* The research oral should be passed by the end of the fifth semester (half-way through the third year). From the program perspective, the research oral demonstrates that a faculty member is willing to take a student on as their PhD advisee.
* It is more important from the program perspective that a student in good standing with a research advisor passes the research oral in a timely way than giving the student a thorough examination. The minimum standard is asking two faculty colleagues to show up at a group meeting and listen to the student give a 15 minute talk with a few questions at the end. APS or collaboration talks can be used in place of the research oral. Faculty can require a higher standard (including enforcing the requirement of a written assignment) but from the program's perspective it's more important that the student passes in a timely way against the minimum standard.
* 500-level classes do not count towards the 9 required credits of advanced graduate classes. However, the electives do not have to be physics classes and students can petition to take 600+ level classes from other departments.
* PHY690 does count towards the 9 required credits of advanced graduate classes.
* The graduate school considers a C grade a pass, so students with a C do not need to re-take a class. However, students can re-take a class with a C grade if they want to.
* Students must maintain a B or better average overall to get the PhD, but one or two C grades are not fatal.
* Auditing classes is strongly discouraged in the program, except in the case where a research advisor requires a student with ABD status to sit in on an advanced grad class as part of their research program.