University of Vermont

Department of Physics

Information for prospective graduate students

This page contains a brief overview of the graduate programs in physics at the University of Vermont. In addition, it contains links to other more detailed information. General and detailed information concerning the Graduate College at the University of Vermont can be obtained from the Graduate College web pages.

Applications should be requested from the Graduate College.  GRE scores are submitted to the graduate college. The Department requires all foreign students to take the TOEFL exam. Minimum scores of 550 (213 for computer administrated test) are required for admission, and a minimum score of 600 (250 for computer test) is required for GTF awards, though generally only scores of 620 (260 for computer test) or higher are seriously considered by the department.

The Department of Physics at the University of Vermont offers a Master's of Science degree in Physics. In addition, the department participates in the Materials Science program in which students can get either an M.S. or a Ph.D. Further information concerning the Materials Science program can be obtained by sending email to Professor Randy Headrick, Director of Materials Science Program.

The M.S. degree requires thirty credit hours of course work course work and thesis research for graduation. At least six of these, but no more than 15, must be Master's thesis research credits. At least nine credit hours must be taken from 300-level courses, the remaining courses can be taken at the 200-level. At least 21 credit hours must be taken at UVM in order to satisfy residency requirements. At the start of their second semester at UVM, students are expected to sit for the written part of the Comprehensive Exam which covers classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism, statistical thermal physics, modern physics, and experimental physics. Students are given two opportunities to pass the comprehensive exam. In addition to the written portion, there is also an oral portion that consists of a Master's thesis proposal given after the start of a thesis research project.

The research within the department is can be broadly defined in three categories

  • Biological Physics - this includes use of Atomic Force Microscopy to study DNA, lipid membranes, and viruses; studies of the application of Ultrasound to biological systems; protein crystallography to study the shapes of proteins and how function follows form; and interpretation of magnetic measurements on biomolecules to determine electronic structure. Wu, Spartalian, Yang, Chu
  • Astrophysics - the use of radio astronomy to study pulsars. Rankin
  • Condensed Matter Physics - including theoretical studies of the dynamics of quantum systems with application to electronic, magnetic, optical, structural, and thermal properties of nanomaterials (eg. fullerene-derived solids and nanotubes). Clougherty, Headrick, Smith, Furis

Almost all of the graduate students in physics are supported through Graduate Teaching Fellowships (GTF). This includes a stipend for nine months and a tuition scholarship covering up to 10 credits per semester. Beginning graduate students are assigned to teach laboratory classes in the introductory physics courses, including the grading of lab reports. Most students continue to teach laboratory classes in later years, but a few are selected to teach recitation classes for the introductory physics courses. During the summer months, students are supported through research grants or again through the teaching of laboratory classes for summer courses.

Most students live off-campus in local apartments. The University does offer a limited amount of Graduate Student Housing, but requests for University housing should be made as early as possible.

Questions regarding any of this material should be directed to Professor Kevork Spartalian .

Last modified October 26 2009 09:04 AM

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