Academic year starts in March and each semester lasts for 16 weeks. Summer and winter breaks are 10 weeks each. During the freshman year students take introductory math and physics as well as writing and English. Currently there are 188 undergraduate physics majors. The University is strongly encouraging double majors, but still most of the physics majors graduate with a single major. Most of the graduates go to graduate school for at least Master’s degrees, either at KU or some other institutes both in Korea and abroad.
Curricula &Degree Requirements
Curricula at Physics Department are not much different from those at major universities worldwide. Required courses include Classical Mechanics, E&M, Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Physics, Modern Physics Experiment, and Electronics Experiment…… The required courses total 36(56 for the intensive course) credit points.
Physics Department offers all the standard courses, e.g. Nuclear and Particle Physics, Optics, Condensed Matter Physics, Computational Physics with Lab, Advanced Lab, and Teaching practice for those who want to become a high school teacher. And Physics Department opens Cosmology, Quantum Information Physics, and AI and Physics.
There is no thesis requirement for a BS. However, some of the faculty members offer intern programs during summer and winter breaks, and interested students can take part in on-going research projects or carry out simple projects of their own.
Currently there are three graduate programs in Physics Department:
- A 2-year Master’s degree program (19 students as of Apr. 2021).
- Ph.D. program for those who finished a Master's degree program (12 students).
- The combined program for Ph.D. as a terminal degree (89 students).
Each student can choose one of the subfields offered at KU Physics, which are elementary particle, nuclear, condensed matter, quantum optics, statistical physics, and nonlinear dynamics & biophysics. For the most parts, our curriculum and education system are molded after the U.S. system. Course requirements, qualifying exams, and thesis requirement and defense procedures are all similar to those of the leading U.S. institutes.
Master’s Degree Program
Students with BS can enter the Master’s degree program both in March and September. The admission process takes place twice a year and consists of the review of manuscripts and other documents and an interview. More than half of applicants are KU physics undergraduates and they are generally well prepared. Tuition for one year is ∼USD 10,000 and scholarship from TA+RA and BK21 FOUR program provides ∼USD 13,000. Roughly half of Master’s degree recipients go to industry laboratory, mostly in display or semiconductor business. The other half either switch to the combined program for PhD after finishing one year or finish the program and proceed for a higher degree in KU or abroad, mostly in the U.S. Required courses for a Master’s degree include Mechanics, E&M I, Quantum Mechanics I, and Writing Physics Paper courses. In addition, Math for Physics for theory students and Experimental Physics for experiment students are required. Moreover, one course from each student’s subfield and one from outside the subfield are required.
There is a thesis requirement and a student is supposed to publish their research result in an international conference. The thesis must pass a committee review and an oral defense.
Typically a Master’s program student spends their first semester taking core courses. During the second semester they spend half of their time in learning basic research skills and during the last year they concentrate on their thesis projects.
Students with a Master’s degree can enter the PhD program both in March and September. Most of the entering students are from KU Mater’s degree program. Tuition requirement is for 2 years and during which scholarship from TA+RA and BK21 FOUR program provides ∼USD 19,500.
Required courses for a PhD are E&M II, Quantum Mechanics II, and two courses from each student’s subfield and one from outside the subfield. There are written and oral qualifying exams. Some of the students have had trouble in passing the written qualifying exam in time. At the same time qualifying exam will be conducted based on open problem bank so that students can use the exam as a chance to master basic knowledge in physics. A PhD candidate is supposed to devote full time to one’s research and produce original result of academic significance. A thesis is reviewed by the 5-member (including one outside member) committee and the student gives an oral presentation. The student is also required to publish at least a paper in major (Physical Review level) journals as either a first or a corresponding author. Students of particle or nuclear physics experiments, the first-author requirement is relieved.
Master’s degree students can enter this program after finishing the first year if the grade average is high enough and recommended by a supervisor. Other than that degree requirements and other procedures are the same as the PhD program. It is more effective than the Master-PhD program for those who want PhD as the final degree, and we try to expand the program.