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Guide for New Grad Students

Please start here for an introduction to settling in to our Group as a new graduate student.

Suggested first-year program of study for aspiring particle/string theorists

The exact courses you will take depend on your background and preferred field of study. You should talk to one or more faculty members to help you decide a course of action.

Our graduate program is very flexible; for example, there is no need to take classes that you happen to have already taken as an undergraduate.

Note also that, if you want to do a PhD in high-energy (particle/string) theory, in order to impress a potential advisor it helps to have high marks in your courses, especially in QFT1 and QFT2 (or else be able to demonstrate command of the relevant material). Independent initiative is also carefully noted - for example, attending seminars, asking questions outside classes and course curricula, etc.

If right now you are not yet sure of your field of specialization, but want to keep your particle/string options open, then be sure to take courses on Quantum Field Theory (QFT) and the Standard Model. These courses contain fundamental core material for both high-energy theorists and experimentalists, as well as for early universe cosmologists. Courses introducing General Relativity (GR), black holes and cosmology are, in turn, crucial for anyone working with gravitational fields. Since links between high-energy physics and early universe cosmology are growing and strengthening, both in theory and experiment, it makes sense for all students planning to do research in string theory, early universe cosmology, and particle theory to take both QFT and GR.

An important caveat to all of the above is that joining the THEP group is usually very competitive, and demand by very talented grad students typically outstrips supervisory capacity by two or three to one. If you are hoping to join the THEP group it is therefore crucial that you also make viable preparations in case this does not work out. To this end, it is extremely recommended that you also explore supervisory options in other areas and make sure that the courses you take in your first semester allow you to pursue those other options as well. THEP professors will choose to whom to offer places in their groups in the first week of the January winter semester, so you will be able to adjust your second semester course load accordingly.

Fall Course suggestions to choose from:

Note the extra information in brackets, to help you coordinate your course priorities with the above recommendation to plan for other supervisory options in your first semester.

  1. PHY2403F Quantum Field Theory 1
    (Absolutely necessary)
  2. PHY1483F Relativity Theory 1
    (If your focus is formal theory or cosmo-pheno connection)
  3. PHY1489F Introduction to High Energy Physics
    (If your focus is phenomenology)
  4. PHY2315F Advanced Statistical Mechanics or PHY1500F Statistical Mechanics
    (Nice bonus)
  5. An "M" course, if needed

Spring Course suggestions to choose from:

By this time, you should know whether you are accepted into the THEP group and have an advisor, who can help you fine-tune your course choices.

  1. PHY 2404S Quantum Field Theory 2
  2. PHY 2401S Cosmology and Black Holes
  3. Special Topics in High-Energy Theory: PHY2406S String Theory (if offered) or PHY2407S Advanced Particle Phenomenology (if offered)
  4. PHY2321S Many-Body Theory 1