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Assistantships and Scholarships

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Information for Current Graduate Students


A minimum of one year of service as a Teaching Assistant (TA) is required for a Ph.D. degree in our Department. This requirement is usually satisfied early in one’s graduate career (most incoming students are supported financially through Teaching Assistantships). The basic duties of a TA, already familiar to most of you, include running recitation or laboratory sessions, offering office hours for consultation with students, and grading homework and examinations, all under the direction of a faculty member teaching the course. Faculty teaching supervisors may also ask TAs to assist in curriculum development. Curriculum development tasks include the upgrade of laboratory experiments, upgrade of laboratory manuals, preparation of any computerized homework problems, preparation of standard homework solutions, preparation for laboratory session by doing practice experiments, and participation in the training of new teaching assistants. Curriculum development activities can take place during the week before classes begin in the fall, during the four-week period between semesters, and during the three weeks after the end of classes in the Spring term.

Teaching and Research, Assistants are expected to be present for duties during the entire period of their appointment, even when classes are not in session. This appointment period typically extends from roughly one week before classes start in the fall until one week after commencement in the spring. Teaching Assistants are required to spend the first week prior to the start of fall classes participating in the Universities TA Training Program. Students who are registered for nine credit-hours of non-research courses are expected to work an average of 15-20 hours a week on their teaching responsibilities.

While state law does not allow us to guarantee departmental support to any student, historically every student making adequate progress towards degree has had some form of support. Adequate progress includes good performance in classes and on the Preliminary Examination; good performance in research; timely scheduling and good performance on the Qualifying Examination; and steady progress in the composition of the Doctoral Dissertation.

The Nielsen Prize given during the Spring semester, is named in honor of Professor Jens Rud Nielsen, for whom the Physics and Astronomy building is named and who was a prominent University of Oklahoma faculty member and research physicist from 1924 to 1965. The prize is given to students who are exceptional among those who have been awarded doctoral degrees from the Department of Physics and Astronomy over the years. The award is intended for students who have completed the thesis and defense within the academic year in which the award is given.

The George Randolph Kalbfleisch Scholarship is awarded to a deserving graduate student of strong character showing potential in the field of physics, with preference to students studying High Energy Physics. The student does not have to graduate in the semester they receive the award.