Qualifying Exam

The purpose of this exam is to ensure that each student has the necessary knowledge to conduct research in his or her area of concentration.

Please read the Physics Graduate Student Handbook for more details. Questions regarding the Qualifying Examination policies may be directed to the chair of the physics department qualifying exam committee.

Physics—Students accepted into the Physics PhD program must take a written Qualifying (Comprehensive) Examination. The exam will be authored and administered by the physics department's qualifying exam committee and will cover four areas:

  • Classical mechanics (including introductory special relativity)
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • Quantum mechanics
  • General physics

Applied Physics—Students accepted into the Applied Physics PhD program must pass a Qualifying (Comprehensive) Examination, which is composed of a physics component and an application component. The physics component of the Qualifying Examination will be the same as for students in the Physics PhD program, except Applied Physics PhD students will select, in advance, three out of the four areas to take. The student's advisory committee shall formulate the application component of the qualifying examination appropriate to the student's chosen area of applied physics interest—focusing on fundamentals related to but not on the student's current research.

Sample Exams

Sample examinations and references are available to Michigan Tech students from the mtu.edu domain only (requires ISO password). Problems may be solved using techniques taught at the advanced undergraduate level.

(Use ISO password)


The Qualifying Exams are administered twice a year, usually during the second and third weeks of the fall and spring semesters.