A minimum of 30 credits and a 3.0 GPA is required at the graduate level 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. 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 and PHYS 2998 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.
Note that the department does not offer financial support for students in the Physics MS program.
There are three ways to earn an MS degree:
- 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 graduate core courses as listed above, each with a grade of B or better. Courses needed to accrue the necessary credit hours may include any number of 3000-level advanced graduate courses.
- Submit no thesis and complete at least six courses from among 2373, 25XX 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.
- Submit a thesis and complete at least six courses. Four courses must be graduate core courses (2373, 2513, 2541, 2555, 2565, 2566) 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 any number of 3000-level advanced graduate courses.
Applicants interested in pursuing the thesis option are required to reach out to potential advisors before applying and to name in their application narrative the faculty member who has agreed to serve as their thesis advisor.
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.
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.
Statue 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.