Graduate Program

Graduate Program

The Department of Physics offers a program leading to the M.Sc. degree in Physics and, jointly with the Department of Chemistry, a program leading to the Ph.D. degree in Chemical Physics. Opportunities for postdoctoral research are available as well.

Candidates for the M.Sc. degree must complete at least 24 credit hours of course work, pass a written comprehensive exam, complete research for a thesis and defend it orally.

Candidates for the Ph.D. degree are required to complete a minimum of 45 credit hours in graduate courses in Physics and Chemistry, and to pass the written comprehensive exam in Physics and Physical Chemistry, four cumulative examinations in areas of Chemical Physics. Completion of original thesis research (24 credit hours) and an oral defense of the thesis are also required.

Applying

Applications should be received no later than February 28 for the fall semester and November 15 for the spring semester. The application materials can be obtained by writing the department to the address given below, or by filling the online application form .

Cost of study

The cost of tuition is $143 USD per credit for residents of Puerto Rico and $6,628 USD per year for non-residents (rate calculated for 8 credits per semester).

Financial aid

Students in good academic standing are elligible for receiving financial aid. Teaching and research assistantships are available, with a stipend of $7,000 USD for students in the M.Sc. program and $8,500 USD for Ph.D., which include a waiver of tuition fees.

Living and housing cost

Costs of housing and living expenses vary considerably but are usually similar to those in the main metropolitan areas of the United States.

Student body

The department has about 45 graduate students, who come from Puerto Rico and the continental United States, as well as from Central and South America, China and several other countries.

Master Program in Physics

I. Admission

A. Eligibility

The applicant must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in Science with a Major in Physics, or its equivalent, with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 overall (on a scale of 1 to 4) and a minimum GPA of 3.0 in Physics. The GPA in Physics is computed taking into account only those courses for which the department has equivalents. The student must have approved the following courses: Calculus, Linear Algebra, Modern Physics, Intermediate Mechanics, Electromagnetism, Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics, Electronics, Elements of Quantum Mechanics, and Methods of Mathematical Physics. Applicants are required to take the GRE (verbal + quantitative) exam. The advanced GRE exam is recommended but not required for admission. Students from non-English speaking countries are required to demonstrate proficiency in English via the TOEFL exam.

B. Application

(Application must be completed online!)

The student must submit the following material to the Admissions Committee of the Physics Program by February 15 to be considered for the Fall Semester, and by November 15 for the Spring Semester.

  1. Two copies of the official application form, which can be obtained from the Department of Physics.
  2. Two official copies of transcript(s)
  3. Three letters of recommendation, of which two should be from professors at the university at which the applicant earned the B.S. or M.S. degree.
  4. A personal interview may be requested by the Admissions Committee.

All the applications will be evaluated by the Graduate Admissions Committee of the Program.

C. Conditional Admission

The applicant who fails to fulfill one or more admission requirements, but who otherwise shows promise of success as a graduate student, may be granted conditional admission to the graduate program. In such a case the Admissions Committee will inform the student the conditions that must be fulfilled within a specified time period in order that the student is granted regular admission and is considered in good standing in the program. A student who has been admitted conditionally will be considered to be on probation until the time limit ends and the conditions have been met. The Chairman and Graduate Academic Advisor will assist the student in the design of a program of studies to help him (her) comply with the conditions.

D. Transfer Credits

Only graduate courses with a grade of B or better, taken within five years prior to the date of entrance to the Graduate Program, can be considered for transfer credits. To apply for acceptance of transfer credits, the student should submit one copy of the official transcript of the graduate courses and one copy of the form Request for Transfer Credits.

Graduate courses taken at the Río Piedras Campus before admission to the Graduate Program can be counted towards the total number of course credits required for the graduate degrees, provided that those courses were not used to fulfill the requirements for the B.S. degree.

II. Requirements for the Masters Degree

Any student who wishes to obtain a graduate degree must first be formally admitted to candidacy for a degree by the Graduate Committee. Advancement to candidacy for a degree signifies that the student has demonstrated that he is capable of fulfilling the requirements for the degree and has sufficient preparation to pursue research. A graduate student becomes a Master’s Candidate upon:

  1. Successful completion of the Course Work with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  2. Presenting a Seminar in the Department.
  3. Passing the comprehensive exam.

Following this process, awarding of the Master’s Degree depends upon successful completion and defense of the Thesis. A student is not permitted to begin working on the thesis before passing the comprehensive.

A. Course Work

The student must complete a minimum of 24 credit hours in graduate courses with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

B.Required Courses

Methods of Theoretical Physics 3 credits
Electrodynamics 3 credits
Quantum Mechanics I 3 credits
Quantum Mechanics II 3 credits
Classical Mechanics 3 credits
Statistical Mechanics 3 credits

C. Elective Courses

Two courses of 3 credits each, at the graduate level in Physics, Chemistry or Mathematics.

D. Seminars

A student must present a seminar at the Department.

E. Comprehensive Exam

Upon completion of the Required Courses, the student must pass a written Comprehensive Examination. The student must pass the exam during the first two consecutive opportunities (one in June and one in July) that are available to him (her).

F. Thesis-Research

A minimum of 6 credits of research must be taken. The student must write and defend a dissertation based on his/her work.

Click here to apply online.

Doctoral Program in Chemical Physics

I. ADMISSION

A. Eligibility

The applicant must have at least a Bachelor’s (B.A. or B.S.) degree in Science with a major in Physics or Chemistry from a college or university accredited in the United States, or equivalent degree from an institution, with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (on a scale of 1 to 4), overall and in Physics or Chemistry.

The applicant must have a working knowledge of English and/or Spanish, and the TOEFL exam is required for students whose native language is neither of them.

Students whose basis for admission is a Master’s degree are required to have passed the graduate courses in that institution with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

B. Application

(Application must be completed online!)

The students must submit the following material to the Committee of the Doctoral Program in Chemical Physics by the end of January every year to be considered for the Fall semester:

  1. Two copies of the official application form, which can be obtained from the Office of the Doctoral Program in Chemical Physics, and two photographs.
  2. Official documents required by the Registration Office.
  3. Two official copies of the transcript(s).
  4. A minimum of two letters of recommendation from professors at the university at which the applicant earned the B.S. or M.S. degree. At least a professor in the Natural Science Faculty should write one. The applicant’s Evaluation Form can be used instead of a letter.
  5. A non-refundable fee of $20 to cover cost of admissions procedures must accompany the application form. Checks should be made payable to Treasurer, Río Piedras Campus, University of Puerto Rico.

C. Admission

Those students that fulfill the conditions for admission according to the Committee of the Doctoral Program in Chemical Physics will be admitted as regular students. The Committee of the Graduate Program in Chemical Physics may conditionally admit students possessing a Bachelor’s degree who do not fully meet the other requirements or who have deficiencies in areas related to the Program. Students so admitted will be required to remove those deficiencies, or otherwise demonstrate their ability to successfully pursue graduate studies in Chemical Physics, by methods that will be specified at the time of admission. A student who has been admitted conditionally will be considered to be on probation until the time limit ends and the conditions have been met.

D. Transfer Credits

Only graduate courses with grade B or better can be considered for transfer credits. To apply for acceptance of transfer credits the student should submit one copy of the official transcript of the graduate courses and one copy of the form Request for Transfer of Credits.

Graduate courses taken at the Río Piedras Campus before admission to the Doctoral Program can be counted towards the total number of course credits required for graduation, provided that those courses were not used to fulfill the requirements for the B.S. degree.

A maximum of twenty-four (24) transfer credits can be credited for the Ph.D. degree.

E. Financial Assistance

The Departments of Physics and Chemistry offer two kinds of financial assistance: teaching and research assistantships. The teaching assistantships are assigned by the chairmen of both Departments. The research assistantships are assigned by the chairmen of both Departments under the recommendation of the researcher that will supervise the applicant. Financial assistance from special programs are available for those students that qualify.

II. GRADUATE STUDIES

A. First Year

Regular students must register three (3) graduate courses (9 credits) each semester under the supervision of the Student Counselor of the Doctoral Program.

At the end of the first year, the student must take the Qualifying Examinations. The Qualifying Examinations are three: one in Physical Chemistry and two in Physics.

The Comprehensive Exams in Physics are given by the Department of Physics at the beginning of the summer, and before the start of the fall semester. The Qualifier Exam in Physical Chemistry is organized by the Department of Chemistry and is also offered two times each summer.

Students have two opportunities to pass all of the above three Exams.

B. After the Qualifier Exams

Once the student has passed both Qualifiers, he/she must select his/her thesis advisor and select together with the thesis advisor, the thesis committee and register the Graduate Research Course. At this moment, the student should initiate his/her thesis research.

III. THE DOCTORAL PROGRAM IN CHEMICAL PHYSICS

A. Courses

A minimum of forty-five (45) credits of graduate courses passed with A or B are required for graduation according to the following classification: twelve (12) credits of core courses (6 credits in physics and 6 in chemistry) and thirty-three (33) credits of advanced courses and seminars in physics and/or chemistry. A minimum of nine (9) credits of 8000-level courses are required and no more than twenty-four (24) may be transfer credits.

B. Seminars

The student must present to the graduate faculty a minimum of two satisfactory seminars, each worth one credit. One of these seminars can consist of the presentation of the student’s thesis work.

C. Research Proposal

The student must prepare and defend a research proposal. The thesis advisor should advise the student on the requirements and guidelines to prepare this kind of proposal.

D. Thesis

After the qualifier exams, the student will choose his (her) thesis advisor and will discuss with the advisor and with the Program Coordinator the subject of research and the members of the Thesis Committee.

A minimum of twenty-four (24) credits in research (FISI 8991) is required. If the research work is not completed after the obtention of the 24 credits in research, the student will register in the research course until graduation. Based on the research work the student must write and defend a dissertation acceptable to the thesis committee.

Click here to apply online.