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PhD Degree

Admission Requirements

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in engineering or with an honours BSc degree in physics or astronomy may be considered for admission to a program leading to the PhD degree. However, such graduates must first register as candidates for the MSc degree and are required, before completing the doctoral program, to demonstrate capability in several core areas of the Physics and Astronomy Graduate Program. These areas depend on the research area of the student. If their progress is satisfactory, they may be transferred after one year into the PhD program and advance in status to candidate (PhD I) on the recommendation of their research supervisor and the Program Director.

Graduates with a master's degree in physics, astronomy, or engineering physics from a recognized university may be admitted directly as candidates (PhD I) into a program leading to the PhD degree.


All entering students plan a research program with their supervisor at the start of their degree studies. Progress in research is monitored by the supervisory committee through meetings with the student and by a progress report consisting of a written paper and an oral presentation each year. In the event of failure to achieve satisfactory progress the student will normally be required to withdraw from the program. Satisfactory progress in research results in credit for PHYS 7001 3.0: PhD Research Evaluation. 


Candidates must take the following courses if they have not already done so:

Physics Stream

PHYS 5000 3.0: Quantum Mechanics I and PHYS 5020 3.0: Electromagnetism.

Astronomy and Astrophysics Stream

PHYS 5090 3.0: Stars and Nebulae, or its equivalent and one course chosen from among: PHYS 5000 3.0 Quantum Mechanics I; PHYS 5020 3.0: Electromagnetism; PHYS 5030 3.0: Statistical Mechanics; PHYS 5120 3.0: Gas and Fluid Dynamics; PHYS 5230 3.0 General Relativity. Any candidate who lacks background in observational and/or theoretical methods of astronomy should consider taking PHYS 5390 3.0: Astronomical Techniques.

To complete the 18-credit post-BSc course requirements, candidates must select half of the remaining credits from the Graduate Program in Physics and Astronomy. Remaining credits may be selected from the Graduate Program in Physics and Astronomy or other science-related graduate programs. At least 12 of the 18 credits must be from courses not integrated with an undergraduate course.

Candidates must successfully complete a significant piece of research, under the general direction of a Supervisor and a Supervisory Committee, and describe it in an appropriate dissertation. The research must be of such a standard that it would be acceptable for publication in the scientific literature . After the formal submission of the dissertation, an oral examination centered on the dissertation/research is held. Prior to the oral examination, the candidate delivers a formal lecture on this research work.

Composition of Examining Committee

A dissertation examining committee shall consist of at least five voting members, including the Chair, as follows:

  • The Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies or her/his representative, who will be at arm’s length from the supervision of the dissertation, and who will serve as Chair of the examining committee.
  • One external examiner from outside York University at arm’s length from the dissertation, recommended by the program director.
  • One graduate faculty member at arm’s length from the dissertation and normally from outside the program, recommended by the program director.
  • Two graduate faculty members from the supervisory committee, or one member from the supervisory committee and one graduate faculty member from the Program. 

Oral Exam Timeline

  • Six months before the oral exam Submit thesis proposal to the graduate office.
  • Seven weeks before the oral exam — submit the dissertation to Supervisory Committee allowing two weeks for Committee to read dissertation.

  • Five weeks before the oral exam — receive the corrected dissertation from Supervisory Committee. Allow one week for corrections.

  • Four weeks before the oral exam — complete the required oral examination forms (available from the Program office) for submission to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

  • Four weeks before the oral exam — distribute hard copies of the corrected dissertation to the Examining Committee.

  • Oral exam.

  • One week after the oral exam — aim to complete required corrections to the dissertation within this time interval if you have a time constraint, e.g., registration for another term, impending departure from the country, etc.