Physics

SMU Physics Graduate Degree Programs

SMU Physics is dedicated to excellence in graduate education for small numbers of students with an emphasis on high-energy particle physics. Please see our department brochure for more information about our program. You can learn more about the successes of our graduate students after earning their degrees from our Alumni Page.

Research Areas

SMU graduate students have the opportunity to work in a wide range of programs at the forefront of research in experimental and theoretical high-energy particle physics.

Admission/Financial Aid

Applications for admission to our graduate program must include the following to receive consideration:

  • Your transcripts from college/university education
  • GRE general and subject (physics) exam scores. The Physics GRE is only offered periodically, so please plan ahead.
  • When applicable, your TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement describing your interests and goals, as well as any relevant past experience.

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

Ph.D. Program

Students in the Ph.D. program benefit from small classes, accessible faculty and research staff, and a wide range of opportunities for research in experimental and theoretical high-energy research programs. Many students begin research projects during their first year. All students in good standing receive teaching or research stipends during the academic year, along with tuition waivers. Summer support is also available. Excellent students are also eligible for the Lightner-Sams Graduate Fellowship.

Students typically receive support for work as teaching assistants during their first two years, and, after successful completion of the Ph.D. qualifying exam, research support until completion of their thesis and degree.

Graduate courses, taken mainly during the first two years, include Mechanics, Electromagnetism, Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics, Introduction to Elementary Particles, Introduction to Experimental Methods, Field Theory, Mathematical Methods of Physics, and others. Courses in other departments are also available.

The core course plan for graduate students is given below, and is part of a routine and cyclic course plan adopted by the Department in 2014.

2014-20152015-2016
FallSpringFallSpring
First Years 6335: QM I
7311: EM I
5395: Intro. to Particle Phys.
6336: QM II
7312: EM II
6321: Classical Mech.
6335: QM I
6351: Stat. Mech.
5395: Intro. to Particle Phys.
6336: QM II
5380: Exp. Part. Phys.
6321: Classical Mech.
Second Years 7311: EM I
7314: QFT I
TBD[*]
7312: EM II
7315: QFT II
TBD[*]
7314: QFT I
6351: Stat. Mech.
TBD[*]
7315: QFT II
5380: Exp. Part. Phys.
TBD[*]


[*] Classes marked "TBD" can be classes within the physics program that meet graduate course credit requirements, such as Computational Physics or other courses. These can also be graduate-level courses in related departments, such as Statistical Sciences.

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 Ph.D. qualifying examinations, generally taken at the beginning of the second year, in Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, Electrodynamics and Statistical Mechanics, for admission to candidacy.

M.S. Program

The emphasis of our graduate program is on the Ph.D. degree, and we generally only accept students for that program. However, students may earn an M.S. degree, either in the course of their Ph.D. program or to pursue other options. For a M.S. degree, students must complete either 33 semester hours of approved graduate course work and pass the qualifying exams, or 30 semester hours of courses and a research thesis. Courses must include at least 18 semester hours of graduate-level work in physics, including a prescribed sequence of three courses.

Resources for Graduate Students

Example (Past) Qualifying Examinations

Here is a collection of qualifying examinations from years past, in the four subject areas where we assess using the written test.

STORIES

M.S. student B. Ferdousi (left) explains her research on dark matter with Physics Major L. Banister (right) at the Dedman College Research Fair. Ferdousi continued on after SMU to a Ph.D. program in space sciences.

Ph.D. student H. Qiu is dressed for the hunt for dark matter on a visit to the Sudbury Mine in Canada. His current Ph.D. research in on the first SuperCDMS data.

Ph.D. student R. Daya on shift for the Liquid Argon Calorimeter detector, part of the ATLAS Detector, in the ATLAS control center. Daya went on to a post-doctoral position in the field on ATLAS.

Ph.D. student Y. Ilchenko presents his work on monitoring the data quality of the ATLAS Experiment. Ilchenko went on to a post-doctoral position in the field on ATLAS.

Ph.D. student A. Kasmi works on electronics for the ATLAS Experiment. He continued in the field in a post-doctoral position on the CMS Experiment.