Apr 17, 2024  
2023-2024 Academic Catalog 
2023-2024 Academic Catalog

Physics, PhD

Contact Information

Dr. Xinhua Bai, Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of Physics
Electrical Engineering & Physics 217
E-mail: Xinhua.Bai@sdsmt.edu

Department Website

Students are responsible for checking with their advisors for any program modifications that may occur after the publication of this catalog.

PhD in Physics

The PhD in Physics is a collaborative program between South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and the University of South Dakota.

Except for Topics and Independent Study courses, graduate courses are offered on a rotational basis. Graduate course offering schedule is available at www.phy.sdsmt.edu/~bai/GraduateProgramInfo/CourseSchedule.html. Topics and Independent Study courses must be scheduled with faculty instructors separately. Contact department for other questions on course offerings.

Degree requirements

Distribution of credits

Core requirements: 24 credits
Research requirements: 36 credits
Elective requirements: 12 credits
Total credits: 72

At least 36 of the required 72 credits must be taken at the 600-level or above. Students who complete the Physics core and research requirements described below will automatically fulfill this requirement.

Core requirements

Research requirements

The completion of a doctoral dissertation, approved by the student’s graduate advisory committee and the Dean of Graduate Education, is required for this degree.

  • Credits: 1 to 9 **
  • ** Thirty-six (36) credits of PHYS 898D are required for the degree. Additional credits of PHYS 898D may be needed to complete the dissertation but will not be counted toward the degree.

Elective requirements

All elective courses must be approved by the student’s graduate advisor. A total of 12 credit hours of elective courses is required. Courses may be chosen from the following list.


Qualifying examination

All students in the PhD program must pass the qualifying examination, typically after completing two years of graduate coursework. The examination problems are based on the material covered by the core courses, including Classical Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics, Electrodynamics, and Quantum Mechanics (including Nuclear and Particle Physics).

The examination takes place typically in mid-August each year. Detailed policy and procedures can be found in the Physics Graduate Program Handbook available from the Physics Graduate Education webpage.

Comprehensive examination and admission to candidacy

All physics PhD students must pass a comprehensive examination before admission to PhD candidacy. 

The comprehensive examination, and subsequent admission to candidacy, must be completed at least 12 months before the dissertation is defended. Detailed requirements and procedures are described in the Physics Graduate Program Handbook available from the Physics Graduate Education webpage.


Dissertation defense

A dissertation defense and a final oral examination are required for this degree.

Detailed program policy and procedures can be found in the Physics Graduate Program Handbook available from the Physics Graduate Education webpage www.sdsmt.edu/Academics/Departments/Physics/Graduate-Education/.

Additional requirements

In addition to these degree-specific requirements, the student must also meet the university requirements and policies applied to all graduate degrees  by the Council of Graduate Education.

Objectives and Outcomes

Objective 1: Attainment of Advanced Understanding in Physics

Student Learning Outcomes:
  1. Depth in Foundational Theories: Physics Ph.D. candidates should demonstrate an advanced and extensive comprehension of the foundational theories in classical mechanics, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, electromagnetism, nuclear and particle physics, and quantum mechanics, including their complex mathematical formulations and theoretical implications.
  2. Comprehensive Specialized Knowledge: Physics Ph.D. candidates should exhibit an extensive and comprehensive understanding of one or more specialized fields within physics, demonstrating in-depth expertise in their research areas.

Objective 2: Proficiency in Conducting Advanced Research and Leadership Roles

Student Learning Outcomes:
    1. Original Experimental Design, Research, and Publication (Experimental Focus): Physics Ph.D. students concentrating on experimental physics should demonstrate the ability to design and conduct original experiments, analyze data, draw conclusions, present their research progress at professional conferences, and publish original research results in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
    2. Theoretical Development and Publication (Theoretical Focus): Physics Ph.D. students concentrating on theoretical subfields should display proficiency in developing, adapting, or constructing theories or models to describe, explain, or predict physical phenomena. They should effectively articulate and publish their work at professional conferences and/or in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
  2. Preparation for Leadership Roles: Physics Ph.D. graduates should demonstrate preparation for prominent positions in academia, influential technical roles in diverse industries, or in government agencies serving the scientific community and the public by leveraging their comprehensive and in-depth knowledge and research experience.

Objective 3: Proficiency in Advanced Communication

Student Learning Outcomes:
  1. Sophisticated Scientific Communication through Presentation and Writing for Diverse Audiences: Students will adeptly communicate intricate scientific and technical concepts and ideas in oral and written form, demonstrating depth, precision, and completeness in their discourse.
  2. Advanced Visualization and Communication Skills: Students will expertly organize and communicate through various mediums, including words, mathematical equations, tables, graphs, images, animations, diagrams, and other visualization tools, exhibiting mastery in presenting complex scientific concepts, ideas, and visions to professional and non-professional audiences.