Medical/Health Physics Program Home

requirements for the ph.d. in physics (Medical physics concentration)

CURRICULUM REQUIREMENTS

Table 1 lists the core course requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Physics (Medical Physics), which includes 11 courses (27 credit hours) in Medical Physics courses plus a course in human anatomy (3 credits). The credits from the anatomy course are not counted toward the completion of the Ph.D. degree because the course is taught at the undergraduate level. The core coursework follows the recommendations of CAMPEP [1].

Table 1 - Core course requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Physics (Medical Physics)
Index Course ID Course Name Credit Hours
1
MEDP 4111
Introduction to Medical Imaging
3
2
MEDP 4331
Radiation Protection and Exposure Evaluation
3
3
MEDP 4332
Radiation Detection Laboratory*
1
4
MEDP 4351
Radiation Detection and Instrumentation*
2
5
MEDP 7111
Advanced Medical Imaging Physics
3
6
MEDP 7121
Radiobiology
3
7
MEDP 7331
Radiation Therapy Physics
3
8
MEDP 7530
Radiation Shielding
2
9
MEDP 7537
Radiation Interactions and Transport
3
10
MEDP 7995
Medical Physics and Health Physics Seminar**
1
11
MEDP 7260
Clinical Physics Experience
3
12
KIN 2500
Human Anatomy#
3

  * Fulfills PHYS 7398 Graduate Laboratory requirement
** Fulfills PHYS 7857 Graduate Seminar requirement. Students typically enroll in MEDP-7995 for multiple semesters; only 1 credit counts toward degree requirements.
# Required for eligibility to sit for American Board of Radiology certification exam in radiological physics. Credits are not counted toward Ph. D. degree because of 2000 level course number.

In addition to the core courses, students must complete advanced (elective) courses in medical physics and in one or more disciplines outside of medical physics. The advanced (elective) courses in medical physics comprise a set of 7 courses (15-24 credit hours), of which each student is required to complete at least 3 courses (9 credit hours). Table 2 lists these courses.

Table 2 - Advanced (elective) courses in Medical Physics offered for the Ph.D. degree in Physics (Medical Physics)
Index Course ID Course Name Credit Hours
1
MEDP 7210
Clinical Principles of Radiation Therapy
3
2
MEDP 7270
Advanced Radiation Therapy Physics
3
3
MEDP 7538
Monte Carlo Simulation of Radiation Transport
3
4
MEDP 7991
Advanced Projects in Medical Physics and Health Physics
1-3
5
MEDP 7992
Advanced Topics in Medical Physics and Health Physics
1-3
6
MEDP 7992
Radiation Physics Research Methods
3
7
MEDP 7999
Research Investigation
1-6

 

For the outside advanced (elective) courses, each student is required to complete at least two graduate-level courses and 6 credit hours in physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering, or related field. The selection of advanced (elective) courses must be approved by the student’s Supervisory Committee.

In addition, students are required to register for research credit hours. The total number of research credit hours is not explicitly prescribed. However, full-time graduate students are expected to register for at least nine credit hours in the fall and spring semesters and six hours in the summer term. Typically, most credit hours earned in the first four semesters are from core and elective courses; credit hours from research predominate in subsequent semesters. The maximum number of research credits is implicitly limited by the requirement that the program for the doctoral degree must be completed within seven years from the time a student is classified as a doctoral student.

The total credit hours for the degree of Ph.D. in Physics (Medical Physics) is defined as the sum of credits from all core courses, elective courses, and research courses, as described above. The required total number of credit hours for the degree of Ph.D. in Physics (Medical Physics) is the same as that for the degree of Ph.D. in Physics.

QUALIFYING EXAMINATION

Each prospective doctoral student is required to qualify for the status of pre-doctoral candidate. The qualification includes generally satisfactory grades, fulfillment of the core curriculum, and other requirements as set forth in Ref. [1]. In addition, each student must pass a written Qualifying Examination. The results of the Qualifying Examination provide

  1. an assessment of the student’s prospects for success in the doctoral program,
  2. an assessment of the student’s mastery of graduate level material covered in the Medical Physics core curriculum, or
  3. a basis for the student to petition the Medical Physics Program for a waiver for one or more core course requirements if the student was admitted to the medical physics program having completed the core course requirements at another CAMPEP accredited institution, and
  4. an assessment of each student within his or her peer group.

The Qualifying Examination is administered once per year in late summer. The specific date will be set by the Exam Committee each year. It is a written examination, given in two parts, a morning and an afternoon session of three hours each. The exam covers general physics, radiation physics (radiation interactions and transport, radiation biology, radiation protection, and radiation measurement and instrumentation), and applied radiation medical physics (the physics of medical imaging, the physics of radiation therapy, radiation shielding, and anatomy) at a graduate level. The type, content, and number of questions may be adjusted by the exam committee from one year to the next.

The questions for the Qualifying Examination are chosen by the Medical Physics Qualifying Examination Committee. The exam questions may change from one year to the next. Questions from previous Qualifying Examinations are made available to students in the program. A passing score is 60% at the Ph.D. level.

The Qualifying Examination is mandatory for prospective Ph.D. students and it is optional for terminal MS students in the Medical Physics program. For terminal MS students who elect to take the Qualifying Examination, the results will be valid for a period of five years (e.g., to accommodate students who later enter the Ph.D. program in Physics (Medical Physics), either immediately after graduation or after having separated from the LSU graduate school, e.g., to work, because of medical leave, etc.). A student may normally sit for the examination twice. If a passing score is not achieved in the first two attempts, the student may seek permission from his supervisory committee to sit for the exam a third and final time.

The exam should be attempted during the first year, normally at the end of the first year. It must be passed within the first two years that the student is in the program. In the event of failing the exam, the student must attempt the exam when it is next offered. A student who retakes the exam must take the entire exam. Students are strongly urged to give a full effort in every attempt at the Qualifying Examination.

Other aspects of the Ph.D. curriculum (e.g., General Exam, publication of research, Public Seminar and Dissertation Defense) remain identical to the corresponding requirements for the degree of Ph. D. in Physics set forth by the Department of Physics and Astronomy (see “A Brief Guide to Graduate Studies in Physics and Astronomy” [2]) and by the LSU Graduate Bulletin [3].

REFERENCES

[1] CAMPEP, "Guidelines for Accreditation of Graduate Educational Programs in Medical Physics."

[2] LSU Department of Physics and Astronomy: "A Brief Guide to Graduate Studies in Physics and Astronomy"

[3] LSU Graduate School: Graduate Catalog

Last updated: January 21, 2014