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Academic Info

DISCLAIMER: While we have tried to provide information that is as accurate as possible, bureaucracy is a difficult language and we cannot claim that all of this information is entirely correct at any given time. It's a good idea to try to get your paperwork in as early as possible to avoid problems, and if you have any questions, ask your advisor, the main office, or the graduate school for clarification!  

Where can I find all the forms and things I need for my exams? 

The graduate school has a page of required forms for examinations and a great Steps to Graduation guide on the same page for both masters and doctoral degrees. 

If you're still confused, Paige Whittington in the main office is your go-to person for questions and form help. 

Below, we've outlined the basic steps for the required classes, exams, and paperwork needed during your time here. All forms mentioned below can be found on the page of required forms from the graduate school, linked in the first paragraph here. 

Is there a formatted thesis template I can use?

The department has provided a LaTeX thesis template that meets the graduate school's formatting guidelines as of Fall 2020. Any questions or issues with this template should be directed to Rob Hynes, the graduate advisor.

NOTE: At the current moment, it appears that the "template.tex" file, which contains the actual template, will not compile without modifications. Listed below is a temporary fix:

  1. Before the “\documentclass” call, there are two lines needed to properly initialize tagpdf:

  2. If the document still won't compile after step 1, then in the “\hypersetup” call on line 46 (line 44 in the original document before adding the lines in step 1), change urlcolor=linkColor, to urlcolor=black

Help! I have questions about school and the department website is too confusing! 

What classes should I take? 

We are all required to take the same core courses: 

  • Classical Mechanics (7221) 

  • Quantum Mechanics I & II (7241 & 7242)

  • Electricity and Magnetism I & II (7231 & 7232)

  • Statistical Mechanics (7225)

  • Graduate Laboratory (7398)

  • Graduate Seminar (7857)

The rest are up to you. The best way to choose these extra courses is to talk to your advisor, an older grad student in your group, or Rob Hynes, the current graduate student advisor. Additionally, taking anything that Dr. Rau offers is a great idea; his classes are the best. 

You are required to take 9 credits per semester (6 in the summer, just research hours) to remain a full-time student. This works out to 3 classes a semester, and is the standard course load. The spring of your first year you'll be expected to take 10 credits, or 3 courses with the addition of the 1 credit Graduate Seminar course. The official documentation on coursework can be found here on the department website, but everyone prefers a simplified version, don't they? 

Exam 1: The Qualifying Exam  

First of all, stop freaking out. The qualifying exam is offered to you four times (January and May each year of your first two years) and you only have to pass once at 60% to stick around. There is a test bank and many of the older graduate students have study guides that they're very proud of and would be more than happy to loan to you. The test itself is a one day exam, three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon. You'll answer a total of 12 questions from the test bank from the 3 subject areas: Quantum, E&M, and Classical/Stat mech. It takes a bit of preparation, but as long as you study hard you will pass. 

Required formsNone, just sign up on the list to take the exam when it goes up (you will receive an email I believe). 

Deadline(s): Pass by the end of your second year. 

Exam 2: The General Exam 

After you pass the qual, you'll get a letter asking you to form a committee and think about setting a date. The committee consists of your advisor and two (or three) other people that need to fit the following categories: 1 theorist, 1 experimentalist, and 1 person outside your field. Additionally, the graduate school will assign you a dean's representative for your committee after your paperwork is submitted. This is typically someone in a related department that is not our department, like math or chemistry. 

The general exam consists of you writing a document about your proposed dissertation topic (depending on your advisor this is 15-30 pages) and a presentation on the topic, with questions by your committee. The presentation is public and about 30-45 minutes long, and the questioning is private with just you and your committee. They then make you leave the room and decide if you pass or fail. 

Once you have turned in your forms and picked a date for your exam, you need to talk to Laurie Rea about reserving a room for your exam. You are then responsible for letting your committee know the date and time of your exam, and making sure they are given your exam document prior to your exam with enough time for them to review it (a week before your exam at the latest is a good guide). Lastly, you should send an email out to the grad students and faculty the day before your exam letting them know when it is in case they would like to attend! 

Required forms:  1. Committee Form (should be emailed to you)

   2. Doctoral Degree Audit and Request for General Examination should be submitted to the graduate        school

Deadline(s): 1. The Committee Form is due any time before you submit your request for a general exam. 

   2. The Doctoral Degree Audit and Request for General Examination form is due AT LEAST 3 weeks prior to your scheduled exam date. 

Exam 3: The Dissertation and Defense

As you're probably already well aware, this is a very long document of publishable work, presented to the public and your committee in a very similar format to your general exam presentation. The way your defense talk is scheduled within the department is analogous to the general exam; however, this requires many more forms. 

Forms are very complicated and confusing, but you can check the status of your forms on myLSU. Just go to the sidebar and select Student Services > Graduate Milestones to check on the status of your paperwork and see what needs to be submitted.

Required forms: 1. Doctoral Application for Degree

2. Request for Doctoral Exam Form 

3. The Survey of Earned Doctorates must be completed

4. Dissertation Submission to the Graduate School. 

5. Dissertation Approval: not a form, but a requirement of all defense documentation to be submitted

Deadline(s): 1. The Doctoral Application for Degree is due in the first two weeks of the semester you want to graduate. 

  2. The Request for Doctoral Exam Form is due to the graduate school in the first two weeks of the semester you want to graduate; additionally, it must be submitted AT LEAST 3 weeks prior to your scheduled exam date. Please refer to the graduate school calendar for the exact due date.

  3. The Survey of Earned Doctorates must be submitted before your dissertation will be approved. 

  4. Your dissertation must be submitted to the graduate school by a date in the end of October (check the graduate school calendar for specific dates). 

  5. All components required to graduate (defense approvals and paperwork, etc) must be submitted by a date in mid November (check the graduate school calendar for specific dates). 

Help! I've missed the deadline for my dissertation to graduate this semester!

Don't worry, this is where registering as Degree Only comes into play. You may register for Degree Only if you have defended before the commencement date in the previous semester (for either a PhD or a master's degree). You must submit your defense before the deadline for review, and you will not be considered an enrolled student. You will then be able to graduate that semester. For more information, please check out the Degree Only section on LSU's website. 

Required forms: 1. Doctoral Application for Degree           

2. Survey of Earned Doctorates

Deadline(s)The deadline for thesis or dissertation submission is in the first two weeks of the semester. Refer to the graduate school calendar for exact dates and times. 

  1. The Doctoral Application for Degree is due in the first two weeks of the semester. Refer to the graduate school calendar for exact dates and times. 

  2. The Survey of Earned Doctorates must be completed before final dissertation submission. 

I'm getting a master's degree though, not a PhD. 

What classes should I take? 

This doesn't change from a master's to a PhD, but requirements differ for a thesis versus non-thesis degree option. Read more on that here.

Exam 1: The Qualifying Exam  

This is the same exam that the PhD candidates take, with the same details, content, and deadlines. The only difference is that you only need a 50% to pass for a master's degree. Additionally, if you are a PhD candidate who fails all four attempts at your qualifying exam, you are permitted to study for and take the qualifying exam one more time at the end of the summer of your second year in an attempt to pass at the master's level. If you do pass, you may go on to receive a master's degree. 

Exam 2: The Master's Defense 

Forming a committee proceeds in the same way it does for a general exam. 

Required forms 1. Committee Form (should be emailed to you)

 2. Master's Application for Degree should be submitted to the graduate school 

 3. Request for Master's Examination and Degree Audit should be submitted to the graduate school

Deadline(s):  1. The Committee Form is due any time before you submit your defense request.

To graduate during a given semester, the following forms are due in the first two weeks of the semester (but see the current Graduate School Calendar for official deadlines): 

   2. The Master's Application for Degree

   3. The Request for Master's Examination and Degree Audit form is due in the first two weeks of classes of the semester, with the additional caveat that requests must be submitted AT LEAST 3 weeks prior to your scheduled exam date. 

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