2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
    May 09, 2021  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog

Physics PhD

College: Sciences Degree: PhD
Department: Physics Option: Dissertation
Program Websites: https://sciences.ucf.edu/physics
Graduate Program Handbook

Program Description

The Physics doctoral program offers research opportunities in condensed matter physics, physics of nanostructured devices, surface science, optical physics, complex systems, biophysics, atomic and molecular physics, physics education and planetary/space science.  The program intends to provide a broad base in experimental and theoretical physics.  

The rules and recommendations below do not apply to the Planetary Sciences track of the Physics PhD program.


The Physics PhD program requires a total of 72 credit hours for completion. A specific set of six required core courses (18 credit hours), thirteen elective courses (39 credit hours, which may include directed research), and a minimum of 15 credit hours of dissertation are part of the 72 hours.

Total Credit Hours Required: 72 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Bachelor’s Degree. 42 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Master’s Degree.

Of the 39 credit hours of elective courses, 9 credit hours must be formal courses and 3 credit hours must be in a methods course selected from a list approved by the Physics department (see below). The remaining 27 credit hours need to be a combination of directed research, other electives, and/or dissertation. Courses must be selected so that at least one-half of the required 72 hours are taken at the 6000 level.

Required Core Courses: 18 Credit Hours

All students are required to take the following core courses: 

Elective Courses: 39 Credit Hours

Elective and research courses are determined by the student’s chosen specialization as listed below:

Formal Courses: 9 Credit Hours

Students must complete three formal courses (9 credit hours) from the “List of Specialization Courses”.

Methods Course: 3 Credit Hours

Students must complete one methods course (3 credit hours) from the following list:

Remaining Electives: 27 Credit Hours

Students must complete 27 credit hours of unrestricted electives, which may consist of formal courses, research, and/or dissertation hours. Students should consult with their adviser about selections for the remaining unrestricted electives.

List of Specialization Courses:

General Physics Specialization

The General Physics Specialization emphasizes strong preparation in physics fundamentals. It is intended to prepare students for careers in theoretical physics or teaching at the college level. A number of active research programs exist in the department to accommodate such students.

Recommended Courses

Condensed Matter Physics Specialization

The Condensed Matter Physics Specialization is intended to prepare students for careers in materials physics, nanoscale science and technology, semiconductors, and soft condensed matter physics. It emphasizes strong experimental preparation with hands-on courses in advanced materials characterization and processing instrumentation. Related research programs at UCF include magnetic nanostructures, soft condensed matter, electronic and optoelectronic devices, and nanoscale characterization.

Recommended Courses

Optical Physics Specialization

The Optics Specialization coordinator is David Hagan, PhD, College of Optics and Photonics. Students are recommended to take at least one of the following courses.

Laboratory Course

Select at least one of the following laboratory courses.

The remaining courses (up to three) may be selected from other graduate courses in Optics (see www.creol.ucf.edu).

Dissertation: 15 Credit Hours Minimum

All students must complete a minimum of 15 credit hours of dissertation prepared in consultation with a dissertation adviser. A fifteen-page written proposal is presented orally to the student’s dissertation committee within one year after the written candidacy exam. The final oral defense of the dissertation is administered by the student’s dissertation committee following completion of a written dissertation describing the student’s research.

  • PHY 7980 - Dissertation Research 15 Credit Hours

Seminar Attendance

Students in their fourth semester and beyond will be required to attend a major fraction of seminars and colloquia hosted by the Physics Department, as well as to make an annual presentation of their research work or independent study.


Placement Exam—All incoming PhD students in Physics will be required to take a diagnostic test similar to the Physics subject GRE. This test has placement purposes only, allowing the Graduate Program Director and academic adviser to identify possible weaknesses in the student’s background and help devise a suitable plan of study. There is no passing or failure.

Candidacy Exam—The candidacy exam consists of two parts.

Part 1 is a written exam covering topics such as those listed in the Graduate Catalog for the courses PHY 5606   - Quantum Mechanics I, PHY 6624   - Quantum Mechanics II, PHY 5346  - Electrodynamics I, PHY 6347  - Electrodynamics II, PHY 5524  - Statistical Physics, and PHY 6246  - Classical Mechanics.  Students are expected to show mastering of these topics at or above the undergraduate level.  The written exam should be taken immediately after the core courses have been completed.  After passing the written exam, the student should identify a research supervisor and a dissertation committee must be put in place with the approval of the graduate program director. Students are only allowed two attempts at passing the written part of the candidacy exam.

Part 2 is an oral exam that combines an examination of the student’s command of Physics and a written dissertation proposal. The oral exam should be taken no later than one year after the written exam has been satisfied.

Admission to Candidacy

The following are required to obtain candidacy status and enroll in dissertation hours:

  • Completion of a minimum 30 credit hours to include all required core courses, 18 credit hours of core courses, 3 credit hours of Methods Course, and 9 credit hours of formal electives. (Directed Research and Dissertation hours are not included) *Note: For students that transfer from a doctoral program post-candidacy, a minimum 9 credit hours enrollment in their first semester is required in order to satisfy the UCF earned non-zero GPA.
  • Successful completion of both part I (written exam) and part II (oral exam) of the candidacy exam.
  • The dissertation advisory committee is formed, consisting of a chair, approved graduate faculty and graduate faculty scholars.
  • Submittal of an approved program of study.
  • Completion of CITI and RCR Workshops

Independent Learning

The Physics PhD program requires a doctoral dissertation. This will provide ample opportunities for students to gain independent learning experience through studying published research papers, conducting research and presenting their results in conferences and in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Application Requirements

For information on general UCF graduate admissions requirements that apply to all prospective students, please visit the Admissions  section of the Graduate Catalog. Applicants must apply online. All requested materials must be submitted by the established deadline.

In addition to the general UCF graduate application requirements , applicants to this program must provide:

  • One official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college/university attended.
  • Official, competitive GRE score taken within the last five years.
    • NOTE: The GRE has been removed as an admission requirement for this graduate program for applicants applying Spring 2021 through the Fall 2021 term. This is a temporary measure in response to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Physics Subject Test of the GRE is recommended, but not required.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Statement of goals. Please state in two paragraphs your interest in the UCF Physics program, specifying the research area of your interest, including Faculty member(s) working in that area.
  • Résumé.
  • Applicants to this program, except those that have earned or will earn a Masters or Doctoral degree from an accredited U.S. institution recognized by UCF, who have attended a college/university outside the United States must provide a course-by-course credential evaluation with GPA calculation. Credential evaluations are accepted from World Education Services (WES) or Josef Silny and Associates, Inc. only.

Students entering the Physics graduate program with regular status are normally expected to have completed course work generally required for a bachelor’s degree in physics, including mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermal and statistical physics, and quantum mechanics.

Meeting minimum UCF admission criteria does not guarantee program admission. Final admission is based on evaluation of the applicant’s abilities, past performance, recommendations, match of this program and faculty expertise to the applicant’s career/academic goals, and the applicant’s potential for completing the degree.

Application Deadlines

Physics PhD *Fall Priority Fall Spring Summer
Domestic Applicants Jan 15 Jul 1 Dec 1  
International Applicants Jan 15 Jan 15 Jul 1  
*Applicants who plan to enroll full time in a degree program and who wish to be considered for university fellowships or assistantships should apply by the Fall Priority date.


Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, see the College of Graduate Studies Funding website, which describes the types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in planning your graduate finances. The Financial Information  section of the Graduate Catalog is another key resource.


Fellowships are awarded based on academic merit to highly qualified students. They are paid to students through the Office of Student Financial Assistance, based on instructions provided by the College of Graduate Studies. Fellowships are given to support a student’s graduate study and do not have a work obligation. For more information, see UCF Graduate Fellowships, which includes descriptions of university fellowships and what you should do to be considered for a fellowship.

Contact Info

Graduate Program

Abdelkader Kara PhD
Telephone: 407-823-5146
PSB 303  

Esperanza Soto Arcino
Graduate Admissions Coordinator
Telephone: 407-823-5146
PSB 432

Graduate Admissions

Anthony Tufano
Telephone: 407-823-2766
Millican Hall 230  
Online Application
Graduate Admissions

Mailing Address

UCF College of Graduate Studies
Millican Hall 230
PO Box 160112
Orlando, FL  32816-0112

Institution Codes
GRE: 5233
TOEFL: 5233
ETS PPI: 5233

Graduate Fellowships

Grad Fellowships
Telephone: 407-823-0127

Graduate Financial Aid

UCF Student Financial Assistance
Millican Hall 120
Telephone: 407-823-2827
Appointment Line: 407-823-5285
Fax: 407-823-5241