U.S. Particle Accelerator School

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Frequently Asked Questions

General USPAS FAQs

How many sessions do you offer each year?

We offer two sessions each year, one in June and one in January.

How do I apply?

Applications for the current session are available on our website (http://uspas.fnal.gov).  Courses run in parallel so you may select one 2-week full course or two 1-week half courses.  You may request financial support on the Application Form; please include your CV/resume, one letter of recommendation and a cover letter explaining why the USPAS is important to your career.   We will send you an acceptance packet when your Application Form is formally accepted.  The acceptance packet will include a confirmation letter, a university enrollment form/audit form, a web link to make your housing reservation, a payment form (if applicable) and some general program information.

How do you decide which courses to offer?

The USPAS Director selects courses with the input of the USPAS Director's Advisory Council and the Curriculum Sub-Committee. Course offerings are different at each program with the exception of the undergraduate-level "Fundamentals of Accelerator Physics and Technology with Simulations and Measurements Lab" and the graduate-level "Accelerator Physics" course. They are offered at each session.

How do you select instructors?

The USPAS Director selects instructors with the input of the USPAS Director's Advisory Council and the Curriculum Sub-Committee.

How do I suggest a course?

You may send in course or faculty suggestions at any time. Please send them to uspas@fnal.gov

May international participants attend your program?

Yes.  Our program is open to both U.S. and international participants.

May I attend only a one-week class?

Students who do not receive financial support from the USPAS may attend one week of the session or both weeks.  Students who receive financial support from the USPAS must enroll in their courses for credit.  If the hosting university will award credit for a one-week course then yes, you are permitted to receive financial support and attend a one-week course. If, however, the hosting university will not award credit for a one-week course then you must attend both weeks of  the session to qualify for financial support.

How and when do I pay my Registration Fee?

After you have been accepted to attend the session, we will send you a Payment Form with instructions for paying your fee.

How do you decide which hotel to use?

To be considered, a hotel must first respond positively to a general solicitation. There are many criteria used to determine which hotel is selected for each USPAS session. Most importantly, the hotel must have enough sleeping rooms for our participants and must have enough meeting room space for our classes and labs. Cost of the sleeping rooms and meals is always an important consideration. Location plays a key role as well. Because our days are very long and intense and it is important for us to keep the entire group together, we do not split the classes or sleeping rooms among multiple hotels.

Why don't you hold classes on campus or use dorms?

It is not possible to find university classroom space or dorm rooms for our winter program because classes are in session at almost all universities. It is occasionally possible in the summer, but past experience has shown us that it is not always the best option. Most university classrooms are not air conditioned and many universities plan construction projects for the summer when the student population is reduced. There is nothing worse than sitting in a classroom all day with no air-conditioning and the windows closed because of construction noise! Also, if we are not able to find a hotel within walking distance to the university campus, commuting by bus takes valuable time out of the day. We have found that dorm rooms are generally not much cheaper than asking students to share hotel rooms and staying in a hotel means participants don't have to bring their own linens and share a bathroom with 10 other people.  Over the years we have found that most instructors and most students prefer to have the entire program located within a hotel.

Which meals are included?

We provide 12 breakfasts and 12 dinners (i.e. each day of the program including the weekend).

Will you provide email access? Should I bring my laptop?

The "General Information" sheet written for each session provides the specifics for that particular program. We always arrange for internet access in our Computer Lab and participants are encouraged to use those computers for homework or email purposes when class is not scheduled. You are also welcome to bring a laptop; however, it is not required unless explicitly stated in the course description.  The USPAS cannot pay internet charges billed to your sleeping room.

Can you recommend some good textbooks?

Here is a link to a list of textbooks that have been used in past USPAS courses: http://uspas.fnal.gov/course-materials/books.shtml

Is it possible for me to get the materials from a recent USPAS course?

We have a website with links to past course materials here: http://uspas.fnal.gov/course-materials/by-subject.shtml

What supplies should I bring to class?

We will provide you with paper and pencils. You should bring a scientific calculator (or laptop).

Do only graduate students attend your classes?

In general, one third of our participants have their PhD, one third are graduate students and the final third is a mix of undergrad's, associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees.

Do you offer on-line courses?

At this time we do not offer on-line courses.


Financial Support FAQs

What type of financial support is available?

Students may request full financial support which covers the Registration Fee (includes textbooks and breakfast and dinner each day of the program) and a shared hotel room (shared with another supported student). Partial scholarships are also available.

How do I request financial support?

There is a section on the Application Form where you may request financial support. A total of four documents must be submitted: 1) an application form 2) a cover letter explaining why the USPAS is important to your career and describing prior research experience or work with or as a user of particle accelerators; 3) your CV; 4) at least one letter of recommendation. The supporting documents may be emailed to us at uspas@fnal.gov, faxed to us at 630-840-8500 or sent via postal mail.

If I receive financial support from the USPAS, must I take my course for a grade and university credit?

Yes, if you receive financial support from the USPAS you must participate fully by taking your course for university credit.  Failure to do so may result in forfeiture of financial support.

May international participants request financial support?

Yes. The same rules apply: you must submit four documents 1) an application form 2) a cover letter explaining why the USPAS is important to your career and describing prior research experience or work with or as a user of particle accelerators 3) your CV and 4) at least one letter of recommendation. While they may not enroll at the host university, international participants receiving financial support from the USPAS must take the course seriously and participate fully.  This means turning in homework and taking all exams.

I am an employee at a national laboratory, may I request financial support?

Financial support is limited and is usually restricted to matriculating graduate students.

Does the USPAS provide funds for travel expenses?

Unfortunately, no.  We cannot provide funding for air tickets or other travel expenses.


International Participants FAQs

May international participants attend your program?

Yes. Our program is open to both U.S. and international participants.

What type of visa should I request?

You will be joining our program as a not-for-credit participant and therefore we believe that a B1 visa or admission under the visa wavier program is appropriate.

May international participants request financial support?

Yes. You must submit four documents 1) an application form 2) a cover letter explaining why the USPAS is important to your career and describing prior research experience or work with or as a user of particle accelerators 3) your CV and 4) at least one letter of recommendation. Please be aware that the USPAS cannot provide any funds for travel.  While they may not enroll at the host university, international participants receiving financial support from the USPAS must take the course seriously and participate fully.  This means turning in homework and taking all exams.

As an international participant, may I enroll for credit at the host university?

International participants may not enroll for credit unless they hold a currently valid student visa and have the permission of their U.S. university.


University-Related FAQs

How do you decide which university will host each session?

We select major research universities to host our sessions. Typically the host university will have a strong faculty group in some aspect of accelerator-based science (such as high-energy or nuclear physics or synchrotron radiation science). We give strong consideration to universities with educational programs in accelerator physics or with accelerators on campus that could be used in hands-on courses. A final consideration is to favor universities that have strong links with the members of the USPAS governing consortium.

Must I take my course for credit?

If you are not receiving financial support from the USPAS you may take your course for university credit or you may choose to audit. If you are receiving financial support from the USPAS and are eligible to receive credit, then you must take your course for credit.

Must I take my course for credit even if I don't need the credit?

If you are receiving financial support from the USPAS and are eligible for credit, then you must take your course for credit. While they may not enroll at the host university, international participants who receive financial support are expected to participate at the same level of effort as for-credit participants.

How do I transfer the credit to my home university?

That is up to your home university. You should ask them what is required to transfer this credit. We can provide you with access to transcripts and the course syllabus which is sufficient in many cases.

When will I know my grade?

Approximately one or two months after the session is over, the USPAS and the host university will send you a letter. This letter will list your grade and any additional information you may need when ordering transcripts. If you need to know your grade earlier, please contact the USPAS Office at uspas@fnal.gov.


USPAS/Indiana University Master's in Beam Physics & Technology FAQs

How does this program work?

First you must complete an IU Online Admissions Application. After IU accepts your application and you are formally enrolled at Indiana University, you will come to USPAS sessions twice per year and directly earn Indiana University credit instead of earning host university credit. Detailed information can be found here.

How many credits will I need to earn this degree?

30 credit hours are required with a grade point average of B or above.

Over the years I have attended five USPAS courses. Can I transfer all of that credit to Indiana University towards this degree?

You are allowed to transfer in 8 credits. Your previous USPAS courses most likely earned 3 credits each. This means you may be able to transfer 2 previous USPAS classes but that will depend on how long ago you took the courses. If the credit was awarded more than 5 years ago then you must petition Indiana University to have the credit reinstated.

How long will it take me to complete the degree?

Generally, students may finish in 3 years. The maximum completion time is 5 years.

I am an international student; may I apply to this program?

At this time, Indiana University is unable to accept international students into this program.

What is the cost?

The nonrefundable application fee is $55.00. The cost per credit hour is $150.00.

How do I apply?

To apply for this program please complete an IU Online Admissions Application. Send a copy of your undergraduate transcripts and provide three letters of recommendation. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are strongly recommended. It is very important that you indicate in the "statement of purpose" and in the "student comments section" that the distance M.S. in Beam Physics is desired. M.S. students are admitted for the spring semester only, the deadline for submitting an application is October 1.

IU's "How to Apply" instructions

Does USPAS financial support cover the Indiana University tuition?

Unfortunately, no. The USPAS cannot pay the tuition owed to Indiana University for this degree.


USPAS Prize for Achievement in Accelerator Physics & Technology FAQs

What can you tell me about this prize?

The USPAS prize honors individuals by recognizing their outstanding achievements over the full range of accelerator physics and technology. The prizes are awarded every two years on a competitive basis without bias to race, sex, and/or nationality.

How is the Prize Committee selected?

The USPAS Director appoints the Prize Committee Chairman who in turn appoints his committee members.

May I submit a nomination package electronically or must I submit a hard copy?

You may submit nominations electronically to uspas@fnal.gov , by fax to 630-840-8500 or by postal mail to: USPAS Prize Committee, Fermilab MS 125, P.O. Box 500, Batavia IL 60510, USA.

What should be included in the nomination package?

Nominations should include the name, institution and CV of the nominee, a description of his/her accomplishments with supporting documents and suggested award citation, and up to three letters of support in addition to the nominating letter. Letters may have multiple signatures.

What criteria does the Committee use when choosing the USPAS Prize recipient?

Each of these categories is heavily considered: 1) Intrinsic scientific/technical quality and importance to the field. 2) Realization of concepts in working accelerators, leadership and vision in machine building, putting concepts into practice. 3) Level of impact: degree to which concepts have led to the production of more or better science or has the potential for doing so in the future. 4) Other factors, especially teaching/encouragement/stimulation of young scientists and engineers

How long do you keep a nomination on file?

Nominations are kept for 4 years (i.e. 2 prizes). Expired nominations may be renewed.

Where can I find out more about the USPAS prize?

Details can be found here on the USPAS website: USPAS prize info.