Graduate Programs and Requirements
General Graduate School Requirements
Programs of study leading to the doctor of philosophy degree are offered in biochemistry and molecular biology, biology, biomedical engineering, cancer biology, chemistry, microbiology and immunology, molecular and cellular pathobiology, molecular genetics, molecular medicine, neurobiology and anatomy, neuroscience, physics, and physiology and pharmacology.
Residence Requirement: A minimum of three years of full-time study, of which at least two must be in full-time residence at the University. The total allowable time for completion of the degree must not exceed seven years.
Course Requirements and Advisory Committee: Specific course requirements are not prescribed. Course work is arranged by the student’s advisory committee with the approval of the departmental or program graduate committee to provide mastery of appropriate fields of concentration. The advisory committee is appointed by the chair of the department or the program director and consists of the student’s advisor and two other members of the department or program. Teaching experience during the period of study is encouraged.
Preliminary Examination: This examination is conducted by the major department. The examining committee selected by the department includes at least three members, one of whom represents a related concentration area. A single written examination or a series of written examinations should cover all areas of concentration and collateral studies. There may also be an oral examination in which any faculty member invited by the examining committee may participate. The examining committee passes or fails the student. In case of failure, the committee can recommend that the candidate be dropped or that reexamination be allowed no earlier than six months from the date of the first examination. A student may be reexamined only once. The preliminary examination is normally given near the end of the student’s second year of graduate study and must be passed at least twelve months prior to the date of the awarding of the degree.
Admission to Degree Candidacy: A student is admitted to degree candidacy by the dean of the Graduate School after recommendation by the chair of the major department or program director. Each candidate must have passed the preliminary examination and must have satisfied any foreign language or special skills requirement.
Dissertation: Under the supervision of an advisory committee, the candidate prepares a dissertation embodying the results of investigative efforts in the field of concentration. A final copy of the dissertation must be submitted by the candidate to the dean of the Graduate School at least four weeks prior to the proposed date of the final examination and copies distributed to the examining committee at least three weeks before the final examination. The committee will be polled by the chair of the examining committee at least ten days before the proposed date of the examination to determine the acceptability of the dissertation. Programs announcing the date of the examination should not be distributed by the candidate until it is determined by the chair of the examining committee that the dissertation is defensible and that the examination will take place as scheduled. A minimum of five copies of the dissertation must be printed. Three copies become the property of the University.
At the time the dissertation is submitted, an abstract of 350 words or less must be submitted in duplicate for publication in Dissertation Abstracts International. A nonrefundable dissertation fee of $55 covers the cost of this service. Other agencies of publication are encouraged, but such publication does not remove the requirement for submission of the abstract to Dissertation Abstracts International.
Final Examination: The examining committee for the dissertation appointed by the dean of the Graduate School consists of at least the following five members of the graduate faculty: the chair of the major department or a faculty member chosen by the chair, the student’s advisor, another member of the major department, a representative from a related area from within or outside the department and a member from outside the major department who represents the Graduate Council and who serves as chair of the committee. With the approval of his or her advisor, a student may recommend a faculty member from outside the department or program to serve on the examining committee. The dissertation advisor must justify the participation of external experts who are not members of the graduate faculty on the basis of research, publications and/or professional activities. If the external expert is to be a voting and signing member of the examining committee, the advisor must communicate to the dean of the Graduate School, in writing, the qualifications of the external expert. Other faculty members may attend the final examination and participate in the questioning. The examination covering the student’s major field of concentration and the dissertation is held no later than ten days before graduation.
Two weeks prior to the final examination, the candidate must have prepared fifty copies of his or her doctoral program. A distribution list for the programs is available in the appropriate graduate office.
After the examination of the degree candidate, the chair shall ask each of the members of the examining committee whether the candidate has passed unconditionally, passed upon rectifying deficiencies, or failed.
Unconditional Pass: If all committee members agree that the student has passed unconditionally, there is consensus to pass the examination. The committee members shall sign the title sheet and the student shall be recommended for award of the degree.
Pass Upon Rectifying Deficiencies: If reservations are expressed by committee members, the chair of the committee shall ensure that the reservations are communicated to the student and the dean of the Graduate School. The student and the advisor are jointly responsible for ensuring that the dissertation is modified to meet the committee’s reservations. When the dissertation has been modified, the student passes the examination. The committee members shall sign the title sheet, and the student shall be recommended for award of the degree.
Fail: If, in the opinion of more than one member of the thesis or dissertation committee, the student has failed the examination, there is no consensus to pass. The chair of the committee shall advise the student that the dissertation fails to meet the requirements of the Graduate School. The chair shall ensure that the student knows the reason(s) for failure. If the student resubmits or submits a new dissertation for consideration by the Graduate School, at least three members for the dissertation shall be drawn from the original committee. If the modified or new dissertation fails to meet the requirements of the Graduate School, the student shall be dismissed from the Graduate School.
The master of science degree is offered on the Reynolda campus in biology, chemistry, computer science, health and exercise science, and physics.
Residence Requirement: In general, a minimum of twelve months of full-time work or its equivalent in residence is required for the master’s degree. For students who have already completed a part of their graduate work, appropriate adjustment of the residence requirement can be made by the Graduate Council. The total allowable time for completion of the degree must not exceed six years.
Course Requirements: A master of science degree candidate must have a minimum of thirty semester hours of graduate credit. This minimum requirement can include no more than six hours of research. Sixteen hours of lectures, conferences, or examinations, or thirty-two hours of laboratory work are equivalent to one semester hour of credit.
Students desiring to transfer from another graduate school are not allowed more than six semester hours of credit for previous course work, except in unusual cases and upon approval of the dean of the Graduate School.
The course of study consisting of classes, seminars, and research is compiled by a group including the student, the student’s advisor, and the chair of the department of the major field of interest. It is recommended that, when possible, such programs include courses in fields other than that of major interest. At least twelve semester hours must consist of graduate courses exclusive of 600-level courses on the Reynolda campus.
Thesis Requirement: If a thesis is required, it embodies the results of the student’s research. A final copy of the thesis must be submitted by the candidate to the dean of the Graduate School at least four weeks before the proposed date of the final examination and distributed to the examining committee at least three weeks before the final examination. The committee will be polled by the chair of the examining committee at least ten days before the proposed date of the examination to determine the acceptability of the thesis. A minimum of five copies must be printed. Three copies become the property of the University. An abstract of approximately 200 words is also required.
Admission to Degree Candidacy: A student is admitted to degree candidacy by the dean of the Graduate School after recommendation by the major department. The student must have met satisfactorily any foreign language, special skills, or ethics requirement and is expected to complete the master’s degree requirements by one additional semester’s work.
Final Examination: The examining committee for the thesis shall consist of at least three members of the graduate faculty, including the advisor. The committee shall be appointed by the dean of the Graduate School and may include one member from outside the student’s department or program who represents the Graduate Council and who serves as chair of the committee. With the approval of his or her advisor, a student may recommend an external member to serve on the examining committee. The thesis advisor must justify the participation of an external expert who is not a member of the graduate faculty on the basis of research, publications and/or professional activities. If the external expert is to be a voting and signing member of the examining committee, the advisor must communicate to the dean of the Graduate School, in writing, the qualifications of the external expert. The examination covers the thesis and knowledge in related areas and is conducted at least ten days prior to graduation. A student may be reexamined only once.
PhD Degree Requirements
For the PhD degree, the student’s course of study must include Physics 711 (Classical Mechanics), 712 (Electricity and Magnetism), 741 (Quantum Mechanics I), 742 (Quantum Mechanics II), and 770 (Statistical Mechanics) unless satisfactorily completed elsewhere. Students must also take three elective courses at the graduate level (600 or 700 level), one of which must be in physics. To graduate, students must achieve a 3.0 grade point average in graduate courses within the physics department. A research advisory committee, appointed after completion of the preliminary examination, determines the additional courses needed for the PhD, such as Advanced Quantum Mechanics, Solid State Physics, General Relativity, Nonlinear Optics, Math or Computer Science, Medical Engineering, etc. The University’s preliminary examination requirement is satisfied by passing a written preliminary examination at the end of the first year of graduate study. The examination may be retaken once, at the end of the second year. Within twelve months of completing the preliminary examination, the student submits to his or her individual advisory committee, and defends orally a dissertation research plan. The research advisory committee meets annually with the student to ensure timely progress toward the degree. Upon completion of the research in the approved plan, the student writes his or her dissertation, presents it to the department, and defends it orally as prescribed by the Graduate School.
For the MS degree, the student’s course of study must include Physics 711 (Classical Mechanics), 712 (Electricity and Magnetism), and 741 (Quantum Mechanics I), as well as participation in departmental seminars (Phys 601). These seminars, in fields of special interest, are regularly scheduled and usually feature outside speakers. In addition to satisfying the residency and course requirements, the student must be admitted to candidacy, complete an acceptable thesis under faculty supervision, and pass an oral examination in its defense.
Structural and Computational Biophysics Track
The Track in Structural and Computational Biophysics offers students the opportunity to obtain advanced degrees (Ph.D. and M.S.) through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in a traditional discipline (Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Biology, or Computer Science) while receiving broad training in the interdisciplinary field of Structural and Computational Biophysics. For more details see the SCB website .
Several physics faculty, both experimental and computational, conduct research in the general area of molecular signaling as part of a multi-disciplinary molecular signaling group . Areas of specific interest for physics faculty include intracellular communication and protein structure and regulation.
The Medical Physics Program at Wake Forest University is an inter-departmental program of graduate study leading to the PhD degree in Physics, with the concentration in Medical Physics. Medical Physics is the study of the applications of physics in medicine. Historically, the field of medical physics has included diagnostic radiology physics, nuclear medicine physics, and radiation therapy physics. Closely related fields include radiation safety, non-ionizing radiation physics (magnetic resonance imaging, hyperthermia, lasers), ultrasound physics, imaging and computational sciences, biomedical engineering and biological physics. Faculty medical physicists in the Wake Forest School of Medicine are adjunct faculty in Physics and serve as teachers and research advisors for the Medical Physics Program. Additional information may be obtained by contacting Professor J. Daniel Bourland [link: firstname.lastname@example.org] or Professor Michael T. Munley [link: email@example.com ].
The WFU Medical Physics Program provides a combination of didactic, laboratory, research and clinical experiences to educate and train PhD medical physicists for productive careers in research, education and clinical service.
Core courses include radiological physics, radiation therapy physics (physics of radiation treatment), and physics of medical imaging (diagnostic imaging physics), medical health physics, radiation biology and anatomy. Electives include courses in the Electives include courses in the physical, biological, engineering and clinical sciences, as well as advanced and special topics.
Medical Physics training programs at the graduate and postgraduate levels are credentialed by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs (CAMPEP). Such credentialing is important because completion of postgraduate training from a CAMPEP-accredited medical physics residency is a required step for board certification in medical physics.
The WFU Medical Physics Program has not pursued CAMPEP accreditation and thus is not a CAMPEP-accredited program. Program applicants should inquire of the program’s CAMPEP status, since admission to a CAMPEP-accredited program may be a primary consideration for a future career.