To complete the Physics Department’s course requirements, students are expected to take a set of six term courses (course information can be found on the Search Yale Courses page): five foundational courses and one elective. The five core courses (1. PHYS 500, Advanced Classical Mechanics; 2. PHYS 508, Quantum Mechanics I; 3. PHYS 502, Electromagnetic Theory I; 4. PHYS 512, Statistical Physics I; and 5. PHYS 608, Quantum Mechanics II) serve to complete the student’s undergraduate training in classical and quantum physics. For the sixth course, students select from the list of graduate elective courses offered by the Physics or Applied Physics departments, or courses offered by other departments with the approval of the DGS. In addition, all students are required to engage in a research project by taking PHYS 990, Special Investigations. In their first year of study, students must take, at a minimum, the foundational courses one through four, along with the research seminar courses: PHYS 515, Topics in Modern Physics Research, and PHYS 590, Responsible Conduct in Research for Physical Scientists.
For students already familiar with the material, the Physics Department offers “passout” examinations for the five core courses, to be given at the start of each course, to determine whether a student has sufficient mastery of basic material to be excused that particular core course. To be eligible to take this exam a student must have had a moreorless equivalentlevel course elsewhere. The exam will be administered by the DGS and the previous year’s lecturer of the course in question. In a separate process, if a student has taken an equivalent course while registered as a graduate student elsewhere, the student may at the discretion of the DGS petition the Associate Dean of the GSAS to replace that course with an elective (the petition process factors in grades earned at Yale, which means that this alternative to the passout exam process is typically only used after one semester of coursework). In both processes, a student who is excused from a core course must replace it with an advanced elective in order to reach the same total number of required courses.
The PHYS 990, Special Investigations (SI) course is a coursebased research experience, intended to help students to identify promising areas of thesis research. To pursue an SI, a student first identifies a faculty advisor for the project, who must have a primary or secondary appointment in the Physics Department. In consultation with the advisor, a student is required to write a brief proposal specifying the plan of action for the project. (A cover page for the proposal is here.) The SI project proposal must be approved by the DGS. In addition, a 40minute Powerpoint or similar presentation on the SI is required at the end of the semester to a 3 person panel (e.g., advisor and two other faculty, or advisor and two postdocs). The SI grade is assigned by the SI advisor and written feedback to the student should be given on this form. Students may want to pursue SIs in different subfields to explore their research options before committing to a PhD thesis topic. The DGS will not approve an SI for audit.
The new course requirements (for students who matriculated in, or after, the Fall of 2016) are intended to offer increased flexibility to customize a student’s path through the courses, and to jumpstart a student’s pursuit of research opportunities. Four different examples of first year course selections are shown here (Sample Schedules A, B, C, D).
Sample 1st Yr Schedule A
Fall 
Spring 
1. PHYS 500 (ClassMech) 
3. PHYS 502 (E&M) 
2. PHYS 508 (QuantMech1) 
4. PHYS 512 (StatPhys1) 
 
 
 
 
PHYS 515 (Research Topics) 
PHYS 590 (Resp. Cond. of Research) 
At or Above 1st Yr minimum load
Sample 1st Yr Schedule B
Fall 
Spring 
1. PHYS 500 (ClassMech) 
3. PHYS 502 (E&M) 
2. PHYS 508 (QuantMech1) 
4. PHYS 512 (StatPhys1) 
 
PHYS 990 (SI) or an advanced elective (this could be in the Fall or Spring) 
 
 
PHYS 515 (Research Topics) 
PHYS 590 (Resp. Cond. of Research) 
At or Above 1st Yr minimum load + Could qualify for “M.S. en route” in 1st Yr
Sample 1st Yr Schedule C
Fall 
Spring 
1. PHYS 500 (ClassMech) 
3. PHYS 502 (E&M) 
2. PHYS 508 (QuantMech1) 
4. PHYS 512 (StatPhys1) 
 
5. PHYS 608 (QuantMech2) 
 
 
PHYS 515 (Research Topics) 
PHYS 590 (Resp. Cond. of Research) 
At or Above 1st Yr minimum load + Could qualify for “M.S. en route” in 1st Yr + Take all 5 foundational courses pre2nd Yr Qual
Sample 1st Yr Schedule D
Fall 
Spring 
1. PHYS 500 (ClassMech) 
3. PHYS 502 (E&M) 
2. PHYS 508 (QuantMech1) 
4. PHYS 512 (StatPhys1) 
PHYS 990 (SI) (this could be in the Fall or Spring) 
5. PHYS 608 (QuantMech2) 
 
An advanced elective (this could be in the Spring or Fall) 
PHYS 515 (Research Topics) 
PHYS 590 (Resp. Cond. of Research) 
At or Above 1st Yr minimum load + Could qualify for “M.S. en route” in 1st Yr + Take all 5 foundational courses pre2nd Yr Qual + On track to finish up all course requirements in 1st Yr
Course Requirements and suggested sequencing for those students who matriculated prior to the Fall of 2016
To complete the Physics Department’s course requirements, students are required to take nine oneterm classroom courses and a oneterm lab course. A set of six core courses (PHYS 500 Advanced Classical Mechanics, PHYS 502 Electromagnetic Theory, PHYS 506 Mathematical Methods of Physics, PHYS 508 Quantum Mechanics I, PHYS 512 Statistical Physics I, and PHYS 608 Quantum Mechanics II) and a laboratory course (PHYS 504Lb or PHYS 990a,b) serve to complete a student’s undergraduate training in classical and quantum physics. Three advanced courses, including a required course in one of either Relativistic QFT, ManyBody Theory or Statistical Mechanics II, provide an introduction to modern physics and research. For students already familiar with the material, the department implements “passout” examinations for the core courses, to be given at the start of each course, to determine whether a student has sufficient mastery of basic material to be excused that particular core course. To be eligible to take this exam a student must have had a moreorless equivalentlevel course elsewhere. The exam will be administered by the DGS and the previous year’s lecturer of the course in question. Students passing out of a core course must instead take an elective to make up the total number of required courses, unless the student has taken an equivalent course while registered as a graduate student elsewhere, in which case the student may at the discretion of the DGS petition the Associate Dean to be entirely excused that course.
All firstyear graduate students must take either PHYS 504Lb or a laboratorybased Special Investigation (SI) (PHYS 990a,b), supervised by a particular faculty advisor who must have an appointment in Physics. Either course must be completed in the first year of graduate study. To be able to choose the SI option, the student must have previously taken an advanced undergraduate laboratory class, and is required to write a brief proposal specifying what the SI project is. (A cover page for the proposal is here.) The SI project must be approved by the DGS. In addition, a 40minute Powerpoint or similar presentation on the SI is required at the end of the semester to a 3 faculty panel. The SI grade is assigned by the SI advisor and written feedback to the student should be given on this form. Additional SIs may be carried out after Year 1, but a proposal is not required in this case. The DGS will not approve an SI for audit.

