The M.S. Degree in Physics
A minimum of 30 credits (3.0 GPA) is required for the MS for both thesis and non-thesis options. The student must be in compliance with all of the University’s degree requirements. At least four physics courses (12 credits) at the graduate 2000-level must be completed with a grade of B (3.00). A 3000-level course can be substituted for one of these, but only with the Academic Advisor’s approval. At most, up to 12 credits of 1300-level undergraduate coursework listed in the “Advising” section of this document as acceptable for graduate credit may also be used to satisfy the department’s 30-credit requirement. No more than six credits of graduate work completed at another institution may be accepted by the Graduate Committee toward the completion of the residence requirement. Credits earned for PHYS 2997, PHYS 2998, and PHYS 2999 may not be used to satisfy this requirement. No more than two non-physics graduate-level courses, approved in advance by the Director of Graduate Studies, will be considered for credit towards the MS degree.
There are three ways to earn an MS degree:
(1) Submit a thesis and complete at least six courses. Four courses must be at the 2000-level, each with a grade of B or better. Courses and directed study/research credit must be accrued to reach the minimum 30 credit hours. Courses may include up to four 1300-level undergraduate classes and/or any number of 3000-level advanced graduate courses.
(2) Submit no thesis and complete at least eight courses. Courses and directed study/research credit must be accrued to reach the minimum 30 credit hours. Four courses must be at the 2000-level, each with a grade of B or better. Courses needed to accrue the necessary credit hours may include no more than four 1300-level undergraduate classes and/or any number of 3000-level advanced graduate courses.
(3) Submit no thesis and complete at least six courses at the 2000-level or beyond. In order to accrue the requisite 30 credits for graduation, the student may engage in Directed Study, Directed Research, or take additional approved courses at the 3000-level.
The candidate must maintain a GPA of at least 3.00 for all core courses and for all courses overall.
The Comprehensive Examination for MS students is equivalent to the Preliminary Evaluation for PhD students. Refer to our Requirements for the PhD and MS Degrees, Section A.3, Preliminary Evaluation.
THESIS AND THESIS ORAL EXAMINATION
A thesis for the MS degree must represent either an original research project or a significant survey of some topic of current interest in physics. A student should find it possible, while carrying some course work, to complete the MS thesis in one term. A copy of the final draft of the thesis must be submitted to the department chair, and copies of the thesis must be distributed to the members of the Master’s Committee, a group of at least three members of the graduate faculty recommended by the professor guiding the student’s research and approved by the department chair.
Information about preparing the thesis electronically may be found on the Graduate Studies webpage at http://www.pitt.edu/~graduate/dissertation.html.
A final oral thesis examination to determine the ability of the student to comprehend and to organize the materials of his or her field will be conducted by the Master’s Committee. In addition to the content of the thesis, the examination may cover the subject matter of the courses taken.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
All requirements for the MS must be completed within a period of 4 calendar years from the student’s initial registration for graduate study.
There is no foreign language requirement, but the student must demonstrate English language proficiency in compliance with University policy.
The Graduate Committee consists of the academic advisors, the core course instructors, the admissions committee, the director of graduate studies, and the department chair. It, or an appropriate subcommittee, is empowered to make reasonable modifications to these requirements on a case-by-case basis in response to a petition by a graduate student. The Graduate Committee also meets to consider proposals for directed study, to receive petitions to modify or set aside rules, and/or to redress grievances.