SMU Physics Graduate Degree Programs

SMU Physics is dedicated to excellence in Masters and Ph.D. education for small numbers of students with emphasis on high-energy physics. More information for graduate student candidates and the Lightner-Sams Graduate Fellowships can be found in the Graduate Program Information Brochure and the Lightner-Sams Graduate Fellowship Announcement.

M.S. Program

Students enrolled in this program must complete either 33 semester hours of approved graduate course work or 30 semester hours of courses and a research thesis. Every student's degree plan must contain at least 18 semester hours of graduate-level work in physics, including a prescribed sequence of three courses. Students also must pass an oral examination on the course work and, if applicable, defend their theses.

Theoretical Particle Physics includes theoretical and phenomenological components in strong, electromagnetic and weak interactions, with topics such as the Standard Model and its extensions, supersymmetry, quantum chromodynamics (QCD), and the Parton Model.

Field Theory includes studies of nonperturbative aspects such as bound systems and confinement in quantum chromodynamics, with focus on light-cone quantization and lattice gauge theory.

Ph.D. Requirements

All entering graduate students must confer with the graduate advisor.
Standard introductory courses and electives, including:

  • Mechanics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Statistical Mechanics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Field Theory
  • Elementary Particles

Qualifying examinations to take place by the beginning of the third year.
Thesis research

Candidates for the Ph.D. degree must complete satisfactorily 8 specified courses, 4 elective graduate courses in physics, 12 credit hours of research, and a dissertation (with a minimum of 12 credit hours).  Students also must pass the qualifying examinations, a set of written examinations on both classical and modern physics. Upon passing these examinations, the student is formally classified as a Ph.D. candidate.

Admission/Financial Aid

All admission requires GRE scores for the general test and physics test, as well as TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores, where applicable.   Graduate teaching and research assistantships are available, including 12-month appointments.  Information and application material are available from:

Research & Graduate Studies
Southern Methodist University
Dallas, TX 75275 (USA)

SMU Office of Research and Graduate Studies
Research and Graduate Studies Application for Admission

Research Areas

The research in High Energy particle Physics (HEP) addresses questions regarding the properties of the most fundamental constituents of matter and the laws governing their behavior. The symmetry breaking between matter and anti-matter (i.e., CP violation) and the origin of mass (search for Higgs particle) are among the most important questions today. The SMU experimental HEP group is deeply involved in the exploration of these questions through research work in the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, and the D0 and NOvA experiments at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, IL.

For more detailed information about Experimental/Phenomenological High-energy Physics research at SMU, please look at the Research Page