MSc and PhD program requirements
The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers programs of study and research leading to the degrees of Master of Science (MSc) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
Students arriving with a BSc degree usually enter the MSc program, which combines a set of graduate courses with an original research project leading to a thesis. The MSc is normally completed within 24 months.
The PhD program has a research focus and a completed MSc (or equivalent) is the normal pre-requisite for entry. However, with approval, students in the Masters program may request to transfer to the PhD program prior to completion of the MSc degree via an MSc-to-PhD transfer exam.
Students in both the MSc and PhD programs are assigned a (provisional) supervisor from the time they enter the program, and in addition their progress is monitored and guided by a supervisory committee (described in more detail below) comprising several faculty members.
For descriptions of courses referred to below, please consult our Course Offerings. Note: in what follows, a one term graduate course has a weight of 1.5 course units; a 2 term graduate course has a weight of 3.0 course units.
Graduate students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 5.0 (B), with no individual grade below B-, for all required courses (namely those specified by the student's supervisory committee as part of the program). Grades of B- or below trigger a memo from the Faculty of Graduate Studies and are automatically reviewed by the supervisory committee. Grades of C+ or below are considered failures for required courses, with a subsequent recommendation for action by the supervisory committee.
(Note: Required courses are those specified by the supervisory committee for the student's program. The student may elect to take additional courses, and these will be identified on the student's transcript as electives.)
- MSc: A minimum of two members: An academic supervisor from the home academic unit, plus at least one member from either inside or outside the home academic unit. The final oral examining committee must include at least one person from outside the home academic unit.
- PhD: A minimum of three members: The academic supervisor from the home academic unit, plus one member from outside the home academic unit, plus one member from either inside or outside the home academic unit. Additional members may be added with approval of the Dean.
You can also find more information from the Academic Calendar.
The graduate supervisory committee is to meet at least once every eight months for an MSc program and at least once a year for a Ph.D. program to monitor the student's progress and to provide guidance toward timely completion of the student's program. A brief report signed by the supervisor and the student is to be handed in to the Graduate Secretary within two weeks of each meeting. Since these meetings are in the student's interests, ensuring that they occur at the required intervals is the equal responsibility of the supervisor and the student. Additional meetings of the committee may be called by the supervisor, the student, or any committee member who sees a need. The graduate student may and is expected to seek out their supervisor, and other committee members, on an individual basis to ask for advice on any aspect of their thesis research progress. As well, they are expected to keep all their committee members appraised of progress and important developments.
A good practice is for the student to prepare a one- or two-page bulleted summary on one piece of paper with information such as:
• student name and date of meeting
• date of entry in program and date of last supervisory committee meeting
• summary of courses and units taken, including grades
• summary of sources of funding (awards, TA, RA, etc.)
• attendance at conferences, summer schools, presentations, talks or posters
• attendance at research meetings of importance
• brief summary of research activities, goals and plans
For MSc supervisory committee meetings:
The first meeting should:
• review course grades
• plan the next 8 months of research
The second meeting should:
• review the timeline and aim at a defense before 24 months
• agree on milestones towards completion
For PhD supervisory committee meetings:
• each meeting should review the timeline for completion
• the candidacy exam should take place in the first 18 months (no later than 24)
After the Candidacy Exam, the student is to consult with the supervisor to formalize a proposed completion timeline with a goal defense date. This program outline is to be handed in to the Graduate Secretary within one week after the exam. Progress along the proposed timeline will be monitored in two ways:
- continuation of annual supervisory meetings
- at 6 month intervals between committee meetings, the student and supervisor complete a timeline review and revise the completion plans as needed
UVic Honours degree in Physics, or equivalent. Students admitted to the Masters program, but with backgrounds judged to be less than that of a UVic Honours degree (e.g., a Major degree), are normally required to take additional undergraduate courses in Physics, Mathematics, and/or Astronomy to satisfy the stated prerequisite.
- The equivalent of an Honours Physics or Astronomy degree
- The Physics or Astronomy MSc course requirements, or equivalent