The Clemson University Physics & Astronomy Department offers programs of study leading to M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. Each degree program has specific requirements in terms of coursework, student seminars, qualifying exams (Ph.D. only), and a thesis (M.S.) or dissertation (Ph.D.) that presents the results of an original research project. It is possible to earn a Ph.D. without stopping to earn a M.S. degree on the way. It is also possible to earn only a M.S. degree. The most common path is for students pursuing a Ph.D. degree to earn the M.S. degree along the way (enroute, in graduate school parlance).
More information can be found in this graduate handbook.
The department houses several multi-million dollar laboratory facilities with equipment that includes tunneling and atomic force microscopes, X-ray equipment and low temperature cryostats. Extensive crystal growing equipment for bulk materials, epitaxial materials, and carbon and other nanomaterials is available. Extensive characterization equipment under computer control is available. Two multiparallel computers (Beowulf) are used by the Astrophysics, Biophysics and Solid State Physics groups. Raman and photoluminescence spectrometers, optical tweezers and optical absorption apparatus are in place. Telescopes in Arizona and Hawaii are accessible to departmental astronomers. The department has facilities for developing rocket instrumentation, as well as optical and radar instrumentation, for studies of the upper atmosphere. Large atmospheric radars and lidars at national and international facilities for studying the upper atmosphere are also accessible to atmospheric physics researchers in the department.
The University also has a state-of-the-art electron microscopy facility, which houses an SEM (Hitachi S3500N), an FESEM (Hitachi S4700), an STEM (Hitachi HD2000), a TEM (Hitachi H7600T), a Focused Ion Beam Scope (Hitachi FB2000A) and an XPS-Kratos Axis 165.
There are approximately 55-65 students in our program. Most of our students are Ph.D. students, one-third are women, and about 40% are from abroad.
Graduates of Clemson’s Ph.D. program have gone on to excel in positions at national labs, including NASA, NOAA and various Defense Agency research labs, in various positions in industry, and in faculty positions at colleges and universities. Students graduating with an M.S. degree have been successful at research labs, in industry, in consulting firms and in some non-traditional jobs, such as Wall Street analysts and network analysts for a power company.
Applicants to the M.S. program must have top scores on the GRE and strong letters of recommendation. International applicants should take the TOEFL exam and will be required to pass a test of spoken English after arriving on campus. Admission is based on academic performance, standardized scores, and reference letters. An applicant’s statement of purpose provides insight into his or her goals and mutual interests. Relevant work experience should be highlighted in the application. For more admissions and application information, please visit the department’s Web site at http://www.clemson.edu/ces/physics-astro/graduate/application.html
Graduate teaching assistantships are the most common type of financial aid support for incoming graduate students. The duties usually entail teaching two or three undergraduate labs per semester, plus some grading for large courses. There are no specific teaching duties in the summer, but students’ duties include research and course work.
Research assistantships are available to graduate students through research grants and contracts held by faculty members in the department. They may have a somewhat higher rate of pay than the teaching assistantships and are awarded based on availability and the qualifications of the recipient. Most students work as research assistants after one or two years as a teaching assistant.
Most assistantships carry a waiver of tuition.
R.C. Edwards Fellowships and Alumni Fellowships are awarded by the Graduate School. The department nominates candidates who compete with other nominees throughout the university. These fellowships currently pay $5,000 per academic year in addition to an assistantship granted by the department. Fellowships require no explicit duties.