Transfer from M.Sc. to Ph.D.

Qualified students may transfer from the M.Sc. program to the Ph.D. program following a written recommendation by his’her supervisor to the professor responsible for graduate studies in the Department. A student qualifies if he or she has a Grade Point Average of at least A- over the last two years of the B.Sc. program and has completed a minimum of two 3 cr. graduate courses with a grade of at least A- in both. During his/her Ph.D. program, the transferring student is required to take the number of 3 cr. graduate courses that is necessary to complete a total of six courses. One of these courses must be either Statistical Mechanics or Advanced Quantum Mechanics I, if not already completed at the master's level. A transferring student must successfully complete the comprehensive examination within 9 months of the transfer.

Comprehensive Examination

All students enrolled in the Ph.D. program are required to successfully complete a comprehensive exam. The format may differ upon the area of specialization and should be completed by the end of the first year of registration in the Ph.D. program. At the University of Ottawa, the format of the comprehensive examination is different from that at Carleton University. The aim of the exam is to ensure that the student has the right preparation to develop successfully an original research project in his/her field of choice. This means that the student should have the required background preparation in elementary notions of the scientific principles involved, and an understanding of his/her field of specialization in the broadest sense possible. Specifically:

(i) Shortly after the student enters the program, the supervisor establishes a Comprehensive Exam Committee, constituted by two members of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies of the University of Ottawa and the supervisor. Normally, one of the two supplementary researchers will also be a member of the student’s Advisory Committee. In consultation with the Comprehensive Examination Committee, the supervisor defines what material the student should master and identifies the written texts covering that material. This could be a single textbook, some review articles, or lecture notes. It is important to define the subject matter broadly. For instance, if someone works in semiconductor physics, a general understanding of solid state physics should be required, in addition to the specific subject of the physics of semiconductors. Or, if the subject matter involves non-linear dynamics, a general textbook on stochastic processes, linear dynamics and systems theory, or numerical methods, depending on what the focus of the research will be. It is essential that the student learns how to apply the knowledge, not just memorize facts.

(ii) A date is set for the exam, within a year of registration. Students who transfer to the Ph.D. program from the M.Sc. must take the examination within nine months of the date of transfer.

(iii) The format of the exam is as follows: A written three hour exam is followed by an oral exam a few days later. Equal weight is given to each part. Basic questions pertinent to the subject are fair game. For instance, principles of statistical mechanics, would be natural questions to ask to a candidate doing Monte Carlo simulations.

(iv) In the event of failure, the student must repeat the exam (both written and oral parts), within one month of the first try. In the case of a second failure, the student is required to withdraw from the Ph.D. program.

Nomination of Ph.D. thesis examiners

In the “Nomination of Thesis Examiners” form, the student (in consultation with his/her supervisor) proposes a list of experts willing to serve as potential Ph.D. thesis external examiners. In order to minimize the time span between the submission of a Ph.D. thesis and the defence, that form should be submitted to the Department’s chair one month prior to the expected date of submission of the thesis.

Back to top