The Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics is a research degree. As such, the most important requirement is to conduct the research for, and then write, a doctoral thesis which demonstrates the student's ability to independently and originally attack and solve a significant problem in theoretical physics. The thesis must definitively advance the subject which it treats.

In addition to the thesis work, a student will normally be required to complete three graduate level courses drawn from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and/or the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography. The courses will be determined by the student's supervisory committee in consultation with the program chair and approved by the Board of Study. In special circumstances, more or fewer graduate courses and/or undergraduate courses may be required.

Finally, students are required to pass a single comprehensive examination. Under normal circumstances this will be an oral one and include the presentation of a written research proposal.