All incoming graduate students, unless exempted by examination, are required to take two semesters each of quantum mechanics and electromagnetism and one semester of statistical mechanics. Successful completion of these courses, along with an oral exam on general introductory level physics, constitute the first half of the Ph.D. qualifying examination.
In addition to the core courses, students typically take one or two courses in the areas of solid state physics, experimental physics, particle physics, etc. The experimental physics course (Physics 169) is a required laboratory course for all students. In addition, students must also take CONT 300B, "Responsible Conduct of Science."
Following the first two semesters, students begin work with one of the many active research programs in the department and start an advanced exam, the second half of the Ph.D. qualifying process. The advanced exam consists of incorporating general physics with a specialized topic in an area of doctoral research selected by the student.
In the second year, students generally take elective courses while continuing the preparation of the advanced exam.
By the end of the second year, most students will have become actively involved in research relevant to their Ph.D. dissertation topic. The remainder of the graduate program consists of completing the dissertation research and taking elective lecture and seminar courses.
The University Bulletin describes the requirements for the Ph.D. in detail.
Interdisciplinary Dissertation Research at Brandeis
It is common for incoming graduate students not to have a firm idea of their future choice of dissertation research topics from the several "traditional" research fields covered by the department. The flexibility of choice in our program not only includes these fields, but also topics connected to biology, chemistry, neuroscience and computer science, to name a few.
An increasing percentage of the physics faculty is carrying out research in these areas, particularly in collaboration with other Brandeis faculty members in life science–related fields. Our department prides itself on the diverse opportunities it has offered students for dissertation research under the direction of its faculty members, and in collaboration with faculty members from other departments.
Brandeis, as a research university in the sciences, carries out research not only within its academic science departments, but in the on-campus Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center and the Volen National Center for Complex Systems, three centers with international reputations. Although there is a completely separate biophysics graduate program at Brandeis, students accepted into the physics graduate program are sometimes found completing their dissertation research in the Rosenstiel and Volen centers on topics in biophysics.
The combined total full-time faculty members in the physics and biophysics fields is 46. Thus, when the interdisciplinary opportunities are taken into account, Brandeis offers physics students the equivalent of a large university with a large choice of research topics, and at the same time preserves the intimacy of a small college.
Quantitative Biology Program at Brandeis
The Interdepartmental Program in Quantitative Biology (QB) prepares the next generation of scientists working at the interface of the physical and biomedical sciences. Ph.D. students in the QB program are trained to apply quantitative experimental techniques, physical models and mathematical analysis to important problems in biomedical research. Students are given a rigorous background in their chosen scientific discipline and at the same time are trained to work effectively as members of the cross-disciplinary teams that are essential to emerging modalities of scientific investigation.
Only students currently enrolled in one of the six participating Ph.D. programs, including physics, are eligible to join the QB program. Those wishing to enter the QB program must first be accepted to the physics Ph.D. program. Ordinarily, students apply for admission to QB during their first or second year of graduate school.
If you are interested in the QB program, you should discuss your interest as early as possible with the physics liaison to QB (Prof. Kondev).
Students offered admission to the Ph.D. program will be offered full financial support (100 percent tuition scholarship, health insurance, and stipend). This award is based on academic merit, not on need. After the first 2 years, students change from teaching assistants to research assistants and the stipends will then increase.