Last modified on August 11, 2022.

All degree-pursing graduate students in the Physics program at Montana State University must pass a qualifying exam.  The exam is held semi-annually, once at the beginning of the fall semester and once at the beginning of the spring semester.

This web page provides current information on the upcoming qualifying exam.

Current Qualifying Exam Committee

The exam is organized, written, and graded by the Qualifying Exam Committee.

For the 2022/2023 academic year, the committee is composed of:

  • Charles Kankelborg (Chair)
  • Nick Borys
  • Anne Lohfink
  • John Neumeier
  • Jiong Qiu
  • Anton Vortonsov

Guidelines and committee policy

This year's Qualifying Exam Committee has authored a publicly available set of general guidelines for the writing, organizing, and grading the exam.

Fall 2022 Qualifying Exam

Topic list

A summary topic list for the Fall 2022 exam has been provided.


Dates: The Fall 2022 qualifying exam will be held on August 15, 16, 17, 18.

Location: Gaines 101

Detailed Schedule

Day Time Topic Tentative Proctor
Monday, August 15 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM Classical Mechanics Anne Lohfink
Tuesday, August 16 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM Quantum Mechanics Nick Borys
Wednesday, August 17 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM Electricity and Magnetism John Neumeier
Thursday, August 18 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM Statistical and Thermal Physics Charles Kankelborg

Permitted note sheets

You are allowed to have one (1) 8.5" x 11" sheet of hand-written notes (front and back) per subject. You will be required to submit your notes with your exam.

Special accommodations

Accommodations will be made for students on a case-by-case basis in accordance to needs determined by the Office of Disability Services.

Requirements on the day of the exam

  1. Follow current MSU policy with regard to masks.
  2. Devices for music, noise cancelling headphones, or earplugs are allowed.
  3. If you choose to listen to music through headphones, please use a moderate volume that does not disturb others.
  4. Calculators are not allowed.

Previous Qualifying Exams

Prior qualifying exams are archived for reference:  archive of past qualifying exams.