Physics

Major: Physics
Degree Awarded: Master of Science (MS) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 45.0 (MS); 90.0 (PhD)
Co-op Option: None
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 40.0801
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code:
19-2010

About the Program

The Department of Physics offers opportunities for students to study with leading researchers in astrophysics, biophysics, condensed matter, particle physics, and physics education research, as well as to participate in international collaborations. Coursework for the MS and PhD degrees includes advanced training in core areas of physics and in topics of current research. PhD students begin research early in the program, commencing thesis work in their second year of study.

To learn more about the graduate program in physics visit the Department of Physics webpage.

Admission Requirements

For admission to the graduate programs, a bachelor's degree in an approved program is required with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0/4.0.

The GRE general exam is required from all applicants (minimum scores 150 Verbal, 150 Quantitative, 3.5 Analytic Writing). The GRE Physics Subject Test is required for PhD applicants to be considered for assistantships (no minimum score).

TOEFL scores are required for international applicants or applicants who earned a degree outside the US (minimum score 100). IELTS scores may be submitted in lieu of TOEFL scores. The minimum IELTS band score is 7.0. TOEFL or IELTS scores below these levels may be considered, but may require an interview.

Visit the Graduate Admissions website for more information about requirements and deadlines, as well as instructions for applying online.

Degree Requirements (MS)

The Department of Physics offers a Master of Science degree that provides advanced training in core areas of fundamental physics and exposure to the application of physics in areas of current research.

This program is suitable as both a means for professional development and preparation for further graduate study. Students who wish to complete only the MS degree are welcomed, and will find that the learning environment will allow them to broaden their professional understanding by exploring current topics and trends of physics in an interdisciplinary setting.

Students who intend to pursue the Physics PhD degree should apply directly to that program. The requirements for the Physics PhD include the coursework required for the MS degree, thus PhD students can earn the MS degree during their PhD study. Students should apply to the program that best aligns with their goals. MS students who wish to continue study toward the PhD degree must apply for the PhD program on a competitive basis.

Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 45.0 credits of approved physics courses is required. Core courses (among the 30.0 credits listed below) must be passed with a grade of B or higher and the student must maintain a cumulative GPA average for all courses of at least 3.00.

There are no thesis, language, or special examination requirements for the master's degree.

The degree requires 45.0 graduate credits, with at least 30.0 credits from the following:

PHYS 501Mathematical Physics I3.0
PHYS 502Mathematical Physics II3.0
PHYS 506Dynamics I3.0
PHYS 511Electromagnetic Theory I3.0
PHYS 512Electromagnetic Theory II3.0
PHYS 516Quantum Mechanics I3.0
PHYS 517Quantum Mechanics II3.0
PHYS 518Quantum Mechanics III3.0
PHYS 521Statistical Mechanics I3.0
PHYS 522Statistical Mechanics II3.0

Elective Courses:

PHYS 531Galactic Astrophysics3.0
PHYS 532Cosmology3.0
PHYS 553Nanoscience3.0
PHYS 561Biophysics3.0
PHYS 562Computational Biophysics3.0
PHYS 576Introduction to Particle Physics3.0
PHYS 626Solid State Physics I3.0
PHYS 627Solid State Physics II3.0
PHYS 631Relativity Theory I3.0
PHYS T580Special Topics in Physics3.0
PHYS T780Special Topics in Physics3.0

Degree Requirements (PhD)

90.0 quarter credits

The Department of Physics offers opportunities for students to study with leading researchers in astrophysics, biophysics, condensed matter, particle physics, and physics education research, as well as to participate in international collaborations. Coursework for the PhD degree includes advanced training in core areas of physics and topics of current research. PhD students begin research early in the program, commencing thesis work in their second year of study.

The usual schedule for physics graduate students consists of two years of coursework, qualifying exams, and research training, followed by dissertation research. All PhD students follow a common set of ten core courses during their first two years of study. In addition to these core courses, students also take four special topics courses.

PhD students Admitted with Post-Master's Status

Students who are admitted for PhD study with “post-masters” status must take 15.0 credits of graduate coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to become doctoral candidates. Courses are to be chosen in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Post-masters students are expected to pass the written and oral qualifying exams by the end of the Spring quarter of their first year of study. Ordinarily, this means taking the written qualifying exam in September before the start of classes. To be prepared for the oral exam, post-masters students should begin research as soon as possible.

Program Requirements

Doctoral candidates are required to complete a minimum of 45.0 credits of coursework and research work beyond the master’s requirement of 45.0 credits while maintaining a minimum of 3.0 GPA.

Core Courses
First Year
PHYS 501Mathematical Physics I3.0
PHYS 506Dynamics I3.0
PHYS 502Mathematical Physics II3.0
PHYS 516Quantum Mechanics I3.0
PHYS 521Statistical Mechanics I3.0
PHYS 517Quantum Mechanics II3.0
Second Year
PHYS 522Statistical Mechanics II3.0
PHYS 518Quantum Mechanics III3.0
PHYS 511Electromagnetic Theory I3.0
PHYS 512Electromagnetic Theory II3.0
PHYS 997Research3.0
Select four of the following:12.0
Galactic Astrophysics
Cosmology
Biophysics
Nanoscience
Computational Biophysics
Single Molecule Methods
Nonlinear Dynamics
Introduction to Particle Physics
Solid State Physics I
Special Topics in Physics
Total Credits45.0

Research Training

Students begin research in the first year with two small projects. In the spring quarter, this project culminates in a talk presented to the other students and Associate Department Head for Graduate Studies. In the summer quarter, the project requires a written report to the research advisor. Research during the second year is toward the oral qualifying exam, described below.

Candidacy Examination

PhD candidates must pass a Candidacy Examination, which consist of two parts: written and oral:

  • The written portion of the qualifying examination is given twice a year, during the week before the fall quarter begins and during the first week of classes of the winter term. Students must pass the written qualifying examination no later than the winter quarter of their second year. At most two attempts may be made at passing the exam. The qualifying examination covers four general areas at the advanced undergraduate level: classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics, and statistical physics.
  • The oral portion of the qualifying exam is based on original research performed by the student, which consists in an oral presentation and a written report of no less than 15 pages, submitted to the examination committee and the Director of Graduate Studies at least one week prior to the exam. Immediately after the public presentation, the Examination Committee will privately conduct an oral examination. This exam must be passed by the end of the second year of study.

Dissertation Defense

This dissertation defense includes a final public presentation and defense of the dissertation. The dissertation must be submitted to the Examination Committee at least two weeks prior to the oral defense. The oral presentation involves a public 45-60 minute presentation by the candidate followed by an unspecified period during which the Examination Committee will ask questions. All doctoral dissertations, in addition to originality and scholarly content, must conform to University format requirements.

Sample Plan of Study (PhD) 

The following sample plan of study lists required courses and electives for the first two years of the full-time PhD program, for a minimum of 45.0 credits. During the third year and thereafter, PhD program students must take a minimum of 45.0 additional credits of research (PHYS 998 Dissertation Research).
 

The following sample plan of study contains the required courses for full-time PhD students entering without a previous Master’s degree. Post-master's students should consult the Director of the Graduate College.

First Year
FallCredits
PHYS 501Mathematical Physics I3.0
PHYS 506Dynamics I3.0
Special Topics Course*3.0
 Term Credits9.0
Winter
PHYS 502Mathematical Physics II3.0
PHYS 516Quantum Mechanics I3.0
Special Topics Course*3.0
 Term Credits9.0
Spring
PHYS 521Statistical Mechanics I3.0
PHYS 517Quantum Mechanics II3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Second Year
Fall
PHYS 522Statistical Mechanics II3.0
PHYS 518Quantum Mechanics III3.0
Special Topics Course*3.0
 Term Credits9.0
Winter
PHYS 511Electromagnetic Theory I3.0
Special Topics Course*3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Spring
PHYS 512Electromagnetic Theory II3.0
PHYS 997Research3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Total Credit: 45.0
*

Special topics courses are an introduction to current topics of experimental and theoretical interest. They are offered in alternate years.

Academic Year 2015/2016 (odd)

FallCredits
PHYS 531Galactic Astrophysics3.0
PHYS 561Biophysics3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Winter
PHYS 532Cosmology3.0
PHYS 562Computational Biophysics3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Spring
PHYS 563Single Molecule Methods3.0
PHYS T780Special Topics in Physics3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Total Credit: 18.0

Academic Year 2016/2017 (even)

FallCredits
PHYS 626Solid State Physics I3.0
PHYS 576Introduction to Particle Physics3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Winter
PHYS 553Nanoscience3.0
PHYS 571Nonlinear Dynamics3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Spring
To be announced 
 Term Credits0.0
Total Credit: 12.0

Additional information for graduate students is available at the Department of Physics.

Facilities

Astrophysics Facilities:

  • The Numerical Astrophysics Facility emphasizes theoretical and numerical studies of stars, star formation, planetary systems, star clusters, galaxy distributions, cosmological modeling, gravitational lensing, and the early universe. The facility employs a high-performance Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) compute cluster, each node containing two 6-core, 2.7 GHz Intel Xeon CPUs and 96 Gbytes of RAM, accelerated by 4–6 Nvidia Fermi/Titan GPUs, and connected by QDR infiniband, affording computational speeds of up to 50 trillion floating point operations per second.
  • The Joseph R. Lynch Observatory houses a 16-inch Mead Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope equipped with an SBIG CCD camera.  Drexel was a member of the original Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) collaboration; faculty and students remain active in analyzing data from the SDSS.  Drexel is currently an institutional member of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), currently under construction in Chile; faculty and students are developing LSST-related machine learning tools and analyzing simulated LSST data to prepare for "first light" in 2022.

Biophysics Facilities:

  • Bio-manipulation and microscopy laboratories. Four optical tables and six research grade microscopes are configured to perform microscopic spectroscopy and manipulation on solutions and individual cells. A spatial light modulator allows spatial patterns to be encoded on samples and explored; all microscopes are temperature controlled with state of the art cameras, including a 2,000 frame per second high speed system. Each optical table is also equipped with high power lasers for photolysis or fluorescence spectroscopy. Microfluidic attachments are present on one table, and in an adjacent laboratory, a small microfluidic fabrication facility has been established.
  • Experimental biophysics lab for studies of proteins and biomimetic lipids, including a fluorescence spectrometer.
  • The Computational Biophysics facility also includes: (i) a Beowulf cluster with 46 dual Quad-core hyperthreaded Xeon CPU (736 cores) and 12Gb of RAM nodes plus a master with 1Tb of storage and 24Gb of RAM, (ii) a Beowulf cluster with 44 dual-core Xeon CPU (344 cores),(iii) a dual Quad-core hyperthreaded Xeon CPU workstation with 24Gb RAM and 3Tb disk with two Tesla C2050 GPU CUDA-accelerated graphics card, (iv) a dual Quad-core hyperthreaded Xeon CPU workstation with 8Gb RAM and 4Tb disk with an NVIDIA N280 GPU CUDA-accelerated graphics card, (v) a quad 8-core hyperthreaded Xeon CPU workstation with 128Gb RAM and 16Tb total disk, (vi) a 72Tb file server with 12Gb RAM, (vii) a 96Tb quad 6-core file server with 64Gb RAM, (viii) and several Linux workstations connected through a gigabit network.

Condensed Matter Facilities:

  • The Ultrafast Electron Diffraction laboratory investigates structural dynamics in nanoscale materials at timescales that are fundamental to materials science and condensed matter physics. The techniques are based on exciting matter with light and probing the response of the lattice with electrons. The research interests of the lab are in a range of phenomena and systems including phase transformations induced by strong laser excitation, phase transformations in strongly correlated systems, generation and detection of coherent lattice vibrations, and characterization of materials properties of graphene, few-layer-graphene, ultra-thin graphite & nanocrystalline diamond.
  • The research at Energy Materials Research Laboratory is devoted to atomic scale investigations of materials for energy. As the size of the system shrinks, conventional bulk thermodynamics becomes irrelevant and we enter the realm of mesoscopic physics. The equilibrium behavior of small systems is governed by the prevailing number of surface atoms that behave differently from the bulk ones. The electronic properties are also subject to reduced number of available electronic states. We take advantage of different scanning probe microscopy and spectroscopy techniques to elucidate the local electronic properties of materials that are relevant to solving energy problems. The laboratory research is funded by grants from NSF and DOE.
  • The Ultra-low Temperature Laboratory includes a dilution refrigerator, 3He and 4He cryostats and microwave sources to study quantum phenomena in nano and microscale devices, superconducting qubits, nanostructures and quantum fluids and solids.

Particle Physics Facilities:

  • The Drexel particle physics group contributes to neutrino oscillation experiments at different baselines, including the DUNE long baseline experiment hosted by Fermilab, the Double Chooz experiment in France, and the PROSPECT short baseline experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  We are also active in the IceCube neutrino telescope located at the geographic South Pole, the EXO-200 experiment located in NM, and the PICO dark matter experiment located at SNOLAB in Canada.
  • The Bubble Chamber Laboratory develops superheated-liquid detectors for rare-interaction searches.

Laboratory for High-Performance Computational Physics:

  • In addition to the department computing cluster (15 linux workstations), high-performance computing resources include a dual-processor server with two Xeon E5-2650 processors (16 cores), 128 GB of RAM, and two Xeon Phi P5110 co-processor cards (480 cores). Department researchers also have access to a cluster of 18 Dell PowerEdge C6145  servers (AMD Opteron 6378 Piledriver CPU's, 64 cores/server, 256 GB RAM/server) with a total of 1152 cores and 4.5TB RAM.

Physics Faculty

Alexey Aprelev, PhD (St Petersburg State University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Experimental biophysics.
Eric Brewe, PhD (Arizona State University). Associate Professor. Physics Education Research, introductory course reform, network analysis in learning, neuromechanisms of learning.
Luis R. Cruz Cruz, PhD (MIT). Associate Professor. Computational studies of confinement effects on the folding of amyloidogenic proteins, spatial correlations of neurons in the brain, firing dynamics of neuronal networks, fluid flow through porous media.
N. John DiNardo, PhD (University of Pennsylvania) Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. Professor. Vibrational and electron dynamics at semiconductor surfaces and interfaces, metal-semiconductor interfaces, polymer surfaces and interfaces, diamond-like carbon thin films, and protein and cell interactions with biomaterials surfaces.
Michelle Dolinski, PhD (University of California, Berkeley). Associate Professor. Neutrino physics, rare nuclear decays, cryogenic detector technologies.
Frank A. Ferrone, PhD (Princeton University). Professor. Experimental and theoretical protein dynamics, kinetics of biological self-assembly, including sickle cell and Alzheimer's disease, sickle cell testing and diagnostic devices.
David M. Goldberg, PhD (Princeton University) Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Studies. Professor. Theoretical and computational cosmology, extragalactic astrophysics, gravitational lensing.
Maher Harb, PhD (University of Toronto). Assistant Professor. Solid state physics, ultrafast electron diffraction, time-resolved X-ray diffraction, ultrafast lasers, nanofabrication, nano/microfluidics, instrument development, vacuum technologies.
Goran Karapetrov, PhD (Oregon State University). Associate Professor. Experimental solid state physics, scanning probe microscopy, nanoscale catalysis, mesoscopic superconductivity.
Rachael M. Kratzer, PhD (Drexel University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Quasars, active galactic nuclei
Charles Lane, PhD (California Institute of Technology). Professor. Experimental tests of invariance principles and conservation laws, neutrino oscillations and properties.
Teck-Kah Lim, PhD (University of Adelaide). Professor. Structures and dynamics of small nuclear and molecular systems, spin-polarized quantum systems, physics in two dimensions. Physics education.
Christina Love, PhD (Temple University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Educational methods and technology, STEM education, science literacy and outreach, particle physics, astrophysics.
Stephen L. W. McMillan, PhD (Harvard University) Department Head. Professor. Stellar dynamics, large-scale computations of stellar systems, and high-performance special-purpose computers.
Naoko Kurahashi Neilson, PhD (Stanford University). Assistant Professor. Neutrino physics, high energy astro-particle physics.
Russell Neilson, PhD (Stanford University). Assistant Professor. Dark matter, neutrino physics.
Gordon Richards, PhD (University of Chicago). Professor. Quasars, active galactic nuclei, supermassive black holes, galaxy evolution, sky surveys, infrared/X-ray/radio astronomy
Jonathan E. Spanier, PhD (Columbia University) Associate Dean, College of Engineering, Director, Centralized Research Facilities. Professor. Light-matter interactions in electronic materials, including ferroelectric semiconductors, complex oxide thin film science; laser spectroscopy, including Raman scattering.
Richard I Steinberg, PhD (Yale University). Professor. Neutrino physics.
Somdev Tyagi, PhD (Brigham Young University) Associate Head of Non-Major Studies in Physics. Professor. Nanobiophysics, Raman spectroscopy, magnetic materials.
Brigita Urbanc, PhD (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia). Associate Professor. Computational and experimental biophysics of protein folding and assembly, relevant to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease; discrete molecular dynamics of coarse-grained protein and lipid models.
Michael Vogeley, PhD (Harvard University) Associate Department Head for Graduate Studies. Professor. Cosmology; galaxy formation and evolution; statistical analysis of large data sets; active galactic nuclei.
Jian-Min Yuan, PhD (University of Chicago). Professor. Protein folding, signal transduction pathways, computational biophysics, nonlinear dynamics and chaos in atomic and molecular systems, protein folding.

Emeritus Faculty

Shyamalendu Bose, PhD (University of Maryland). Provost Emeritus.
Leonard D. Cohen, PhD (University of Pennsylvania). Professor Emeritus.
Leonard X. Finegold, PhD (University of London). Professor Emeritus.
Robert Gilmore, PhD (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Professor Emeritus.
Richard D. Haracz, PhD (Wayne State University). Professor Emeritus.
Frederick House, PhD (University of Wisconsin). Professor Emeritus.
Arthur P. Joblin, PhD (Drexel University). Professor Emeritus.
Donald C. Larson, PhD (Harvard University). Professor Emeritus.
Arthur E. Lord, PhD (Columbia University). Professor Emeritus.
James McCray, PhD (California Institute of Technology). Professor Emeritus.
Michel Vallières, PhD (University of Pennsylvania). Professor Emeritus. Shell-model and mean field studies of nuclei on and off beta-stability, chaotic scattering, computational physics.
T. S. Venkataraman, PhD (Worcester Polytechnic Institute). Professor Emeritus.
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