Please note:

To view the current Academic Calendar, go to

Department of Physics | Faculty of Science Simon Fraser University Calendar | Summer 2023


Doctor of Philosophy

The PhD program in the Department of Physics provides the opportunity to pursue advanced studies that culminates in original research in physics. Students will do both coursework and a research-based thesis. A PhD in physics provides students with expertise necessary to develop their own independent research program for careers in academia, government or industry.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must satisfy the University admission requirements as stated in Graduate General Regulations 1.3 in the SFU Calendar. A master's degree in physics, or the equivalent, is required. Students who are in the MSc program in physics and have demonstrated strong academic and research performance may transfer to the doctoral program, with the approval of the student's supervisory committee. Also see the Graduate General Regulations on University transfer requirements.

Program Requirements

This program consists of course work and a thesis for a minimum of 30 units. The minimum course requirements for the physics PhD program are determined on an individual basis. Upon admission, the graduate program committee will review a student's previous coursework and set minimum requirements according to the guidelines provided below. For students with MSc degrees not from SFU, the graduate program committee will award credit for equivalent coursework.

The physics department requires that students complete a combined total of 24 units of coursework during the master's and PhD programs.

Students must complete

PHYS 801 - Student Seminar (1)

Discussion of recent developments in physics, based on student seminars. Attendance is required for all first and second year students proceeding toward MSc or PhD degrees in physics. Course offered regularly. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

PHYS 802 - Introduction to Graduate Studies: Research and Teaching in Physics (2)

Basic skills for research and teaching in physics. Required for all students beginning an MSc or PhD degree in physics. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

PHYS 810 - Advanced Quantum Mechanics (3)

Advanced non-relativistic and some basic relativistic quantum mechanics: symmetries, Schroedinger/Heisenberg pictures, mixtures, variational and perturbative methods, Dirac equation. Prerequisite: PHYS 415, or equivalent.

PHYS 841 - Statistical Mechanics (3)

Review of ensembles and thermodynamics, ideal gases, imperfect classical gases, classical and modern theories of phase transitions, renormalization group. Course offered regularly. Prerequisite: PHYS 445 or equivalent.

and one of

PHYS 821 - Advanced Electromagnetism I (3)

Advanced topics in classical electromagnetic theory: review of Maxwell's equations in free space and in macroscopic media, with applications in contemporary research; relativistic unification of electromagnetism; Lagrangian and Hamiltonian methods in electromagnetism. Prerequisite: PHYS 421 or equivalent.

PHYS 822 - Advanced Electromagnetism II (3)

Advanced topics in electromagnetic waves: propagation and polarization in free space and in macroscopic media, including dispersive and anisotropic media; conducting and dielectric waveguides and resonators; radiation, scattering, and diffraction. Prerequisite: PHYS 421 or equivalent.

and 12 other units of graduate courses

and a thesis

PHYS 899 - PhD Thesis (18)

Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 TBD
G200 TBD

Other Information

Research and Thesis Requirements

A major portion of this program is conducting original research. A thesis, embodying new and important results or original research, must be presented and defended at the conclusion of the degree program.

Overall Requirements

  1. PhD students must demonstrate the ability to perform and disseminate independent research that makes a significant, publishable contribution to knowledge in the discipline.
  2. PhD students must demonstrate the following disciplinary knowledge:
    • mastery of the core subjects in physics, which include classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics;
    • mastery of more specialized topics related to one's research topic;
    • and breadth of knowledge in physics at an advanced level.

Program Length

Students are expected to complete the program requirements within 12 terms (four years) after completing an MSc, or 15 terms (five years) after completing a BSc for students who transfer directly after one year from the MSc to the PhD program.

Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations

All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.