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Program and Application Information
Department Chair:Dr. Sylvio May
Graduate Coordinator:Dr. Alan Denton
Department Location:218 South Engineering
Department Phone:(701) 231-8974
Department Web
Application Deadline: For U.S. students, one month before registration; for international students, March 1 for fall semester and September 1 for spring/summer semester.
Degrees Offered:Ph.D., M.S., Accelerated M.S.
Test Requirement:GRE (general and subject recommended)
English Proficiency Requirements:RA-TOEFL ibT 79, IELTS 6; TA- TOEFL ibT 81 (Speaking 23, Writing 21), IELTS 7 (Speaking 6, Writing 6)

Program Description

The Department of Physics offers graduate study leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. Advanced work may involve specialized training in the following areas: biophysics, computational physics, condensed matter, nanomaterials, physics education research, polymer physics, soft matter physics, and statistical mechanics.

Research and academic programs are tailored to meet individual needs and interests. New students are strongly urged to visit faculty members to discuss research opportunities soon after their arrival.

Admissions Requirements

The Department of Physics graduate program is open to all qualified graduates of universities and colleges of recognized standing.

Financial Assistance

Prospective students must apply to the Graduate School and be accepted in full or conditional status before being eligible for an assistantship in the Department of Physics.

Generally, graduate students are supported during the academic year by either teaching assistantships or research assistantships. The 2016-2017 academic year stipend is $18,000 for 9 months. Additional support during the summer is also possible. Graduate tuition (but not student fees) is fully waived for all teaching assistants and research assistants.

Research Equipment

The following equipment is available for research: atomic force microscope with multi-purpose low-noise electronic probe-station, confocal microscope, spectroscopes, global positioning system, picotesla magnetometry equipment, work stations; computer clusters, resources at the NDSU Center for Computationally Assisted Science & Technology; Nd:YAG  and titanium: sapphire lasers; immediate access to scanning electron microscope; low- and high-field NMR; and X-ray powder diffractometer, materials processing lasers and a full complement of materials characterization equipment through the NDSU Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

The Graduate Coordinator or Chair shall assign to each incoming graduate student a temporary advisor, who shall assist in the selection of courses. During the first semester, the student is expected to discuss potential projects for thesis research with faculty members. By the beginning of the second semester, the student must have a permanent research supervisor. By the end of the second semester, the student must have filed a plan of study, selected a thesis topic, and secured two additional faculty members for the Advisory Committee.

Master of Science

Each student must earn at least 30 graduate credits, numbered 601-798, of which:

  • at least 10 credits are Physics courses numbered 601-689 or 700-789;
  • at least 16 credits are didactic courses numbered 601-689 or 700-789;
  • between 6 and 10 credits are Physics 798 (Master's Thesis);
  • at least one credit must be Physics 790 Graduate Seminar. 

Students are required to attend all seminars and colloquia.

Accelerated Master of Science

Students must meet all requirements of the Physics bachelor and master programs. For the master’s degree, students must earn at least 30 graduate credits, numbered 601-798, with these conditions:

  • At least 21 credits are didactic Physics courses from this list:

PHYS 611, 611L, 613, 615, 662, 681, 685, 686, 752, 758, 761, 771, 781, 782

Up to 15 credits from this list may count toward the bachelor program requirements. It is recommended that students take the 600-level of PHYS 462/662, 485/685, and 486/686 while fulfilling the requirements for the bachelor’s degree.

  • Between 6 and 8 credits are PHYS 798 (Master’s Thesis), with the goal to publish a paper based on the thesis research, although this is not a requirement to graduate.
  • At least one credit is PHYS 790 Graduate Seminar.

Doctor of Philosophy

The Ph.D. program requires the completion of at least 90 graduate credits, numbered 601-899, of which:

  • 16 are the required physics courses (752, 758, 761, 771, 781, and 790);
  • 27 or more must be in letter-graded courses;
  • No more than 12 credits are in non-physics courses.

Credits used to satisfy the requirements for the M.S. degree may be included in the total.  Students are required to attend all seminars and colloquia.

Comprehensive Examination

By the end of their fourth semester, students:

  • submit a report that summarizes their research results so far and details a research plan for the rest of their research work;
  • give a talk about their research accomplishments and plans; and
  • must pass an oral examination by the Advisory Committee to confirm doctoral candidacy.

Students who pass the comprehensive examination and, at the time of the exam, have completed 30 credits (16 of which are didactic) will earn a master's degree and be eligible to participate in commencement that semester. Students should choose the Ph.D. + master's option from the drop-down menu on the Doctoral Degree Plan of Study and on the Request to Schedule Examination. After students have passed the comprehensive examination, they should complete the Exit Survey and the Degree Application. A link to these items will be emailed to them by the Graduate School.

If the student fails the comprehensive examination, she/he will be given the opportunity to repeat the examination in the next semester (this examination can be repeated only once). Alternatively, the student may elect to work for a master's degree instead.

Students should submit their doctoral thesis for examination at the end of their fourth year

Dissertation Video

Doctoral students are required to submit a three-minute video summarizing their dissertation research for a lay audience. The video should be produced, with guidance from the thesis supervisor, during the final semester of study and presented to the supervisory committee at the final defense.

For the comprehensive and final examinations, students must submit the appropriate forms to the Graduate School.

Warren Christensen, Ph.D.
Iowa State University, 2007
Postdoctoral: University of Maine, 2007-2009
Research Interests: Physics Education Research, Student Content Understanding, Curriculum Development

Yongki Choi, Ph.D.
The City University of New York, 2010
Postdoctoral: University of California Irvine, 2010-2014
Research Interests: Nano-Bio-physics, Nano-electronics, Single-Molecule science

Andrew Croll, Ph.D.
McMaster University, 2009
Postdoctoral: University of Massachusetts, 2008-2010
Research Interests: Polymers, Diblock Copolymers, Thin Films, Pattern Formation, Mechanics

Alan R. Denton, Ph.D., Graduate Coordinator
Cornell University, 1991
Postdoctoral: University of Guelph, 1991-94; Technical University of Vienna, 1994-95, Research Center Julich, 1996-98
Research Interests: Soft Condensed Matter Theory, Computational Physics

Eric Hobbie, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota, 1990
Research Interests: Nanotechology, Nanoparticles, Polymers, Optics and Rheology

Andrei Kryjevski, Ph.D.
University of Washington, 2004
Research Interests: High Energy Partical Theory, Nuclear Theory, FirstPrinciples Numerical Techniques for Fermi Systems

Mila Kryjevskaia, Ph.D.
University of Washington, 2008
Research Interest: Physics Education

Sylvio May, Ph.D., Department Chair 
Friedrich-Schiller University, 1996
Research Interests: Physics of Lipid Membranes, Biophysics

Orven Swenson, Ph.D.
Air Force Institute of Technology, 1982
Research Interests: Laser Materials Processing, Optics Education

Alexander J. Wagner, Ph.D.
University of Oxford, 1997
Postdoctoral:MIT, 1998-2000, Edinburgh, 2000-2002
Research Interests: Computational Soft Matter , Phase Separation, Diffusion, Interfaces Physics


Ghazi Q. Hassoun, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota, 1963
Postdoctoral: University of Michigan, 1963-65
Research Interests: Foundations of Quantum Mechanics

Daniel M Kroll, Ph.D.
University of Chicago, 1973
Research Interests: Theoretical and Computational Modeling of Complex Fluids and Biomembranes

Charles A. Sawicki, Ph.D.
Cornell University, 1975
Postdoctoral; Cornell University, 1975-79
Research Interests: Acoustics, Biophysics, Geophysics

Mahendra K. Sinha, Ph.D.
Pennsylvania State University, 1961
Postdoctoral: National Research Council (Ottawa), 1964-66
Research Interests: Field Emission and Field-Ion Microscopy Adjunct

Adjunct Faculty

Stuart Croll, Ph.D.
University of Leeds, 1974
Research Interests: Weathering Durability, Film Formation, Internal Stresses In Films, Modern Art Conservation, and History of Paint Technology

Eric M. Foard, Ph.D.
North Dakota State University, 2013
Research Interests: Theoretical, Computational, Soft Matter, and Phase Separation Physics

Kenneth Lepper, Ph.D.
Oklahoma State University, 2001
Research Interests: Applied Solid State Physics (geologic materials) and Materials Characterization

Konstantin Pokhodnya, Ph.D.
Moscow Institute of Science and Technology, 1977
Research Interests: Materials, Thin Film Fabrication, Spintronics