The Department of Physics and Astronomy has over 30 faculty who are currently taking graduate students in their research programs. The areas of research span both pure and applied areas with research opportunities both within the Department in Physics and Astronomy as well as the groups of our joint faculty. Those areas include experimental science, computation, and pure theory. Individual laboratories have a wide range of specialized equipment including lasers and optical measurement systems, low temperature facilities, cluster and atomic beam equipment, materials growth and characterization, high performance computation, bio-materials handling, etc. In addition to the individual laboratories of faculty, graduate students get access excellent research facilities at USC, which include: The Center for Electron Microscopy and MicroAnalysis (CEMMA); Molecular Imaging Center; Keck Photonics Center; Chemistry Instrumentation Facility; the D-Wave experimental quantum computer, and the High Performance Computing Center.
It takes about 5 years to get a PhD in physics at USC. The PhD degree requirements are:
- Completion of a minimum of 60 units of credit, including 5 required plus four elective graduate courses, and four units each of a graduate colloquium course and a dissertation course.
- Students must pass thewritten screening exam no later than the second semester in the department. New advanced students who have passed an equivalent comprehensive exam at a well-recognized research university with superior grades may apply to the departmental exam committee for an oral interview in order to be exempted from the written screening exam. A faculty member who supervises the research of such a student in the department must support this application.
- The qualifying examination must be attempted before the fifth semester (or, in the case of advanced students, the third semester excluding summer) in the department. The Ph.D. qualifying exam contains a written part and an oral part. The written part consists of a critical review by the student of a published work selected by the guidance committee and of a research proposal prepared by the student on the area in which the student intends to do a doctoral dissertation. The oral part expands on the written part.