Degree Forms and Requirements


Requirements for the Ph. D.

  • Involvement in research in every semester in which the student is enrolled
  • Completion of four semesters of required courses below, passed with a grade of B- or better
    • Physics Track
      AS.171.603 – Electromagnetic Theory
      AS.171.605 & AS.171.606 – Quantum Mechanics I and Quantum Mechanics II
      AS.171.703 – Advanced Statistical Mechanics
    • Astronomy Track
      AS.171.611 – Stellar Structure and Evolution
      AS.171.612 – Interstellar Medium and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics
      AS.171.613 – Radiative Astrophysics
      AS.171.627 – Astrophysical Dynamics
      AS.172.633 – Language of Astrophysics
  • Satisfactory performance at the departmental research exam at the beginning of the second year
  • Identification of a thesis adviser no later than the beginning of the third year
  • Satisfactory performance at the University Graduate Board Oral Exam in the fall of the third year
  • Completion of thesis research and satisfactory performance at the thesis defense

The thesis is expected to be completed within five or six years; continuation in the PhD program beyond the 6th year is possible only upon the approval of the department chair following petition from the thesis adviser.

Requirements for the MA Degree

The department does not admit students who intend to pursue the master’s degree exclusively; however, students in our department’s PhD program, as well as students in other PhD programs at Johns Hopkins University, may apply to fulfill the requirements for the Master of Arts degree in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Students from other JHU departments must seek approval from their home department and from the Department of Physics and Astronomy before beginning their MA studies.

Students must master the basic undergraduate material covered by the following courses:

  • 171.204 Classical Mechanics
  • 171.301-302 Electromagnetic Theory
  • 171.303-304 Quantum Mechanics
  • 171.312 Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics

Courses taken elsewhere may qualify at the discretion of the Graduate Program Committee.

Students must complete six one-semester graduate-level (at least three hours/week) courses offered by the Department of Physics and Astronomy. For this purpose, each semester of 171.415-416 (Mathematical Methods for Physicists) counts as a graduate-level course. In addition, 171.801 or 802 (Independent Graduate Research) may be substituted for any of the above-mentioned graduate or undergraduate courses. The research course must include an essay supervised and approved by a faculty member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The student must receive a grad of B- or above in each of the courses. The graduate level courses may be retaken once; the undergraduate courses cannot be repeated.

In addition, the student must complete at least two semesters of research projects, as described in the requirements for the PhD, and complete the departmental research exam.