Master of Science in Physics


Examine motion, matter and time

Candidates for the master's degree must satisfy all the general requirements of the Graduate School. Master of science degrees are offered with majors in physics or atmospheric science. For a major in physics, the physics department recommends that students follow the Plan A (with thesis) option.

Additional credits may be in a minor, usually mathematics, computer science or electrical engineering. The program of study is planned in consultation with a graduate advisor and is subject to approval by the student's advisory/examining committee and the graduate dean. The thesis should demonstrate the student's ability to carry out independent research. All master of science candidates must pass a final oral examination administered by the student's advisory/examining committee. The emphasis in the examination will be on the thesis.

Subject to the approval of the committee, a student may elect to follow the Plan B (without thesis) option. For the master's program without thesis, 32 credits are required, with no more than six credits in special problems courses. Students also must pass a written comprehensive examination and a final oral examination on graduate-level course work administered by the student's advisory committee.

To be admitted to candidacy, all students must successfully complete department course requirements, and satisfy the university residency requirements. In addition, Plan A students must present and successfully defend a written thesis, and Plan B students must pass the written and oral comprehensive examination.

More Information

Physics graduate student information packet

Includes details about admissions requirements and procedures and coursework.

Download the Physics Graduate Student packet for information about admissions procedures.


The physics department offers graduate programs leading to the master of science in physics and the doctor of philosophy in physics. A master of science degree in atmospheric sciences and Ph.D. degrees in chemical physics and atmospheric sciences are also offered (see the Interdisciplinary and Special Programs section of this catalog). Applicants must complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and are strongly encouraged to complete the advanced physics portion. Please consult regulations of the Graduate School for general admission requirements.

Requirements for Admission to Graduate Standing in Physics are:

    • A bachelor's degree from an institution offering an approved major in physics (as defined by the American Institute of Physics).
    • Completion of regular junior-senior courses in classical mechanics, magnetism, thermal and statistical physics, and quantum mechanics.
    • An average grade of 3.0 or better in all physics and mathematics courses, and an overall average of 3.0 or better in all undergraduate courses.

Applicants whose records indicate a deficiency in any of the requirements listed above may be admitted on a probationary basis and may be required to take certain undergraduate courses (which do not carry graduate credit). Graduate students who hold half-time assistantships are not permitted to enroll for more than 10 credits in graduate courses in any one semester.

The general requirements of the Graduate School must be followed by each student in physics working for an advanced degree.

Students wishing to pursue an advanced degree in atmospheric sciences should consult the section of this catalog on Interdisciplinary and Special Programs for admission, candidacy and degree requirements.

Download Graduate Information Packet

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