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How to Graduate

A note for international students

Many international students plan to remain in the U.S. for a postdoc position after completing their Ph.D. This often involves going though the "OPT" process, which can take several months. Information for international students from Rutgers Global Services can be found here, with OPT information here. We recommend you look through the linked web pages and, if you have questions, schedule a meeting with your adviser at Global Services.

Information from the School of Graduate Studies

Graduation requirements of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) are posted on line. In case of any conflict between the SGS postings and the materials on this page, you should consider the SGS postings authoritative - follow them!

Related SGS web pages include:

  • The main SGS web page with deadlines and links to checklists is here. Also included are style guides, links to graduation workshops, etc.
  • The checklist for a Ph.D. degree is here.
  • The checklist for a M.S. degree with thesis is here.
  • The checklist for a M.S. degree without thesis is here.

Physics and Astronomy Program Information

For a Ph.D. degree...

Here are several things you should know about program requirements / SGS requirements. The first thing is to contact your committee - four members plus an outside member - and arrange a time and date for the defense. Current rules allow remote participation of up to 2 people on the committee, but both the student and adviser must be present.

  • About 10 days - 2 weeks before your defense ...
    • ... send the Graduate Program Director (GPD) the name, contact information, and a CV in pdf format for an "outside committee member" (OCM). The OCM is "outside" in the sense that they cannot be on the Physics and Astronomy Graduate Faculty. The OCM should be someone very familiar with your area of research. The OCM might be one of you collaborators, a former grad student of your adviser, or Rutgers faculty from a different department.
    • ... contact Shirley for help in arranging a room. Give her your dissertation title. This also gives Shirley the information to announce your defense to the department.
    • ... send your dissertation in pdf format to your committee and to the GPD.
  • Make sure to bring your "candidacy form", picked up from SGS, and your title page, along with a black pen, so that your committee can sign off on your successful defense. This sometimes happens at the defense, but sometimes does not happen until you complete edits to your dissertation.
  • If one of your committee members is not present to sign, the GPD can sign for them. They need to email the GPD a statement minimally indicating that "I approve YYY's dissertation and authorize you to sign on my behalf." (Where YYY should of course be replaced by your name.)
  • The GPD usually signs off last, after you have obtained all other signatures. Please give Shirley Hinds a copy of the forms you will submit to SGS.
For a M.S. degree...

We usually give the M.S. without thesis = M.S. with essay degree. There appears to be no difference in the degree you get - the option chosen is basically an internal matter. The procedure for an MS degree follows that for a Ph.D. with several exceptions.

The main exception is that many of our M.S. degrees are awarded to Ph.D. students after they complete the course / credit requirement. The Ph.D. candidacy exam serves as the "comprehensive" test. Go to the SGS site linked above, download the M.S. application form, fill it out, have your Ph.D. candidacy committee sign it - note the committee chair is the chair for the purpose of this form, not your adviser, and note they also have to approve the essay - have the GPD sign it, do the online application, and give Shirley Hines a copy of your form.

For M.S. students, we usually ask you to write an essay - recent ones vary for about 10 - 40 pages - and arrange a committee with the GPD, typically your adviser, 2 people in your area of research, and 1 outside your area of research. No outside committee member is required. It normally takes a few weeks to find a mutually acceptable time for the committee to meet. We typically ask for the essay to be given to the committee 10 days - 2 weeks in advance of the meeting, and we ask for a short presentation to be followed by questions.

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Last revised January 9, 2020