MS Degree for MS track


MS Degree for MS track (thesis or project) 10/13/2009

Each student who wishes to pursue the M.S. degree in physics will be advised by a faculty member in the Physics Department. The faculty advisor will assist in planning a program appropriate for the student's needs and interests. For the M.S. degree, the Graduate School requires 45 credits, with a 3.00 grade point average (minimum) and with approximately 2/3 of the credit in the major (Physics) and the remaining 1/3 in a minor. Each student must choose a minor, which can be in Physics or another department.

Program Requirements

    1. Completion of 18 credits from List A.
    2. Completion of 9 credits from List B for students with a minor in physics, or completion of 6 credits from List B for students with a minor outside of physics.
    3. Completion of 12 credits from List C for students with a minor in physics, or completion of 15 credits of approved minor courses for students with a minor outside of physics.
    4. A) Thesis option: Completion of PH 503 (thesis, 6 credits minimum, 12 credits
      maximum) and completion of a M.S. Thesis. (See notes below concerning the thesis.
      B) Project option: Completion of 3 credits of PH 501 (Research) and completion of a M.S. Project. (See notes below concerning the project.)
    5. Each term, all students shall register for and attend the weekly departmental colloquium (PH 507, sec 1) presented by faculty members and visiting speakers on a wide range of topics of current interest.
    6. The Graduate School requires a two-hour M.S. final oral examination on the major and minor subjects. This is ordinarily taken during the final term of study toward the M.S. degree. Not more than half of the examination period should be devoted to a presentation and defense of the thesis.

List A: Physics core courses. The appropriate courses must be chosen in consultation with the student's advisor. At most 9 credits in each subject area can be applied toward the M.S. degree requirements.
Dynamics PH 535: Capstone: Classical Mechanics, 3 credits.
PH 621: Dynamics, 3 credits.
Statistical Thermophysics PH 541: Capstone: Thermal and Statistical Physics, 3 credits.
PH 641, 642: Statistical Thermophysics, 3 credits each.
Electromagnetic Theory PH 531: Capstone: Electromagnetism, 3 credits.
PH 631, 632, 633: Electromagnetic Theory, 3 credits each.
Quantum Mechanics PH 551: Capstone: Quantum Mechanics, 3 credits.
PH 651, 652, 653: Quantum Mechanics, 3 credits each.

List B:  Physics courses
PH 511, 512 Electronics Laboratory 3 credits each
PH 515 Computer Interfacing 3 credits
PH 561 Capstone: Mathematical Methods 3 credits
PH 564, 565, 566 Computational Physics, 3 credits each
PH 575 Introduction Solid State Physics, 3 credits
PH 585 Atomic, Molecular, Optics 3 credits
PH 595 Introduction Particle, Nuclear Physics, 3 credits
PH 654, 655, 656 Advanced Quantum Theory, 3 credits each
PH 671, 672, 673, 674 Solid State Physics, 2 credits each
PH 681, 682, 683, 684 Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics, 2 credits each

List C:
 Specialty courses with emphases in other subfields (optics, materials science, computational physics, physical chemistry, physics education, geosciences, radiation and health physics). Courses from this list must be chosen with advisor approval; they should provide the student with a coherent degree. This list is not complete, other courses or other subfields (with approval) can be used for this part of the requirement. Note that some of these subfields can alternatively be studied within a minor program outside of physics (see notes below concerning the minor).
Optical Physics:
PH 581, 582, 583
CH 567, ECE 592, ATS 512
Materials Science
PH 575
ME 581, 582
CH 511, 512, 513, 540, 541, 542, 545, 548, 549
Computational Physics:
PH 565, 566
CS 515, 523, 561, 562, 575, 577, 579, 582
ECE 572, 576
MTH 587, 588, 589
Physical Chemistry:
CH 511, 512, 513, 540, 541, 542, 545, 548, 549, 580, 581, 582
Physics Education:
SED 581, 592, 593, 594, 596
SED 503, 580, 588, 595, 597, 598
GEO 516, 554, 556, 563, 564, 653, 656 (structural geology)
GEO 554, 563, 564, OC 661 (geophysics)
Radiation and Health Physics:
RHP 535, 586, 587, 588
CH 518, 574, 577
Additional courses may be selected from
PH 501 Research
PH 505 Reading and Conference
PH 507 Seminars
Subject to Graduate School restrictions (maximum 6 credits of blanket courses). 

Submitting Program of Study to the Graduate School

The Program of Study is an official document that must be submitted to the Graduate School. The Program of Study lists out all of the courses you have taken, or plan to take. Your choice of courses must satisfy the physics requirements (listed above) and the graduate school requirements. The grad school requirements are typically satisfied whenever the physics requirements are satisfied. The Program of Study must be signed by your graduate committee and the department chair. The Program of Study must be submitted to the graduate school several months before you plan to defend your thesis (please check with the graduate school for deadline information). 

Notes concerning the M.S. Thesis

The experimental, theoretical, or computational M.S. thesis is designed to be of limited scope, but of a useful character. Past theses have occasionally been accepted for publication. There are several steps which are designed to aid the student and the thesis advisor toward reaching their common goal.

  1. Upon arrival, each graduate student will be assigned a program advisor by the Graduate Program Director. Students are welcome to request a change of advisor at any time.
  2. At the time of the choice of M.S. thesis option, the student will select a faculty member who agrees to be the thesis director, and who will also serve as the advisor. The studentâs committee is then selected (two additional faculty members plus a Graduate Council representative) by mutual consent of student and advisor, and at the first committee meeting, the studentâs program is formally approved and submitted to the Graduate School in accordance with Graduate School requirements. This procedure is normally completed by the end of the student's first year of graduate study.
  3. When the feasibility of the thesis is established, the physics members of the committee shall meet to consider the proposal. If approved, this work shall constitute an acceptable M.S. thesis. A rough timetable should be established, for protection of both student and project advisor. It is strongly recommended that the thesis be completed by the end of the second year of graduate study.
  4. The full committee will examine the student in a final oral exam, partly on the thesis and partly on general physics.
  5. A favorable recommendation by the committee concerning the thesis and the examination will constitute satisfaction of the departmental requirements under Sections 2(a) and 4 of the M.S. program.

Notes concerning the M.S. Project
The experimental, theoretical, or computational M.S. project is designed to give the student experience using the physics tools learned in the classroom. The project is necessarily of a limited scope, such that it can be completed by the end of the second year of graduate study.
The general procedure describing the M.S. thesis given above applies here as well. It is the responsibility of the student to choose a project advisor. This should be done within the first year of graduate study. The full committee (advisor plus two other members) must approve the planned project. A clear timetable must be established, showing that the project can be completed by the end of the second year of graduate study. Projects building upon work done in a class, a term paper, or a senior thesis are acceptable. A report on the project must be submitted to the committee for its approval. The report need not be submitted to the university (as is the case for the M.S. thesis). A report with approximately 3000-5000 words is considered to be sufficient.

 Notes concerning the M.S. Minor
Each M.S. student will select a minor field of study in addition to the major field of study (physics). The minor may be within the physics department or outside of the department. Possible minors within the physics department are: physics, atomic physics, computational physics, nuclear physics, optical physics, particle physics, relativity, and solid state physics. Examples of minors outside of the department are: materials science, physical chemistry, science education, radiation health, environmental science, mathematics, electrical engineering, computer science, and geophysics. The Graduate catalog contains a complete list of approved minors. A minor outside the physics department requires that the student have a professor from the minor department on the examining committee.

Other notes

  • M.S. students who have been admitted to the M.S. program may apply for admission to the Ph.D. program. To do so, a student must submit a letter of application to the Graduate Program director. As soon as possible thereafter, the student must take the written comprehensive exam set by the department. A detailed description of the requirement is given in a bulletin entitled "Comprehensive Examinations". After the student has received a score for the written comprehensive exam, a decision will be made on the student's admission to the Ph.D. program. The student need not pass this written comprehensive exam at the Ph.D. level, but the result will be one of the factors used in the decision. The taking of the exam will be considered a "practice try" should the student be admitted to the Ph.D. program.
  • Undergraduate students wishing to complete a B.S. in physics and then an M.S. in physics within one additional year may do so by completing some of the M.S. requirements while still enrolled as an undergraduate. Up to 15 credits of 500/600 level courses taken as an undergraduate can be reserved for use in a graduate program. These reserved credits must be in addition to the undergraduate degree requirements and must be selected before (not after) taking the course. After receiving the B.S., the student must then enroll as a graduate student for the final year of this program and complete the remaining M.S. requirements. For students choosing this option, it is advisable to take one of the core course sequences during the last year of the B.S. Interested students should meet with the Undergraduate Program Director and the Graduate Program Director as soon as possible to discuss the details of this option.