Physics, MS

The Department of Physics offers Master of Science degrees with several options. The standard physics MS can be obtained by taking a specified set of courses without an MS thesis. Alternatively, an MS thesis may substitute for 8 credit hours of course work. Both of these options may be pursued either full time or part time. Upon completion of the MS degree in physics, students should be able to apply graduate-level knowledge and solve problems in the areas of electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, classical mechanics, statistical mechanics, and advanced mathematical methods.

Grade Requirements

To qualify for the MS degree, a cumulative average of 3.000, equivalent to a grade of B, must be obtained. No more than two courses or 6 semester hours of credit, whichever is greater, may be repeated in order to satisfy the requirements for the MS degree. A student who does not maintain a 3.000 cumulative average for two consecutive semesters, or is otherwise not making satisfactory progress toward the MS degree requirements, may be recommended for termination at the discretion of the graduate committee.

Within the above limitations, a required course for which a grade of F is received must be repeated with a grade of C or better and may be repeated only once. Elective courses in which an F has been received may be repeated once to obtain a C or better.

Transfer Credit

Students must petition, in writing, through the graduate committee to the director of graduate student services for all transfer credit. An official transcript must be attached to the Request for Transfer Credit form. A maximum of 8 semester hours of credit obtained at another institution may be accepted toward the MS degree provided that the credits transferred consist of a grade of B or better in graduate-level courses, have been earned at an accredited U.S. institution, and have not been used toward any other degree. Grades are not transferred.

Current MS Students Interested in the PhD Program

MS students interested in applying to the PhD program must complete the internal admission application.

Special Student Status

Special students are allowed to earn credit for a maximum of 12 semester hours. Students interested in taking more than 12 semester hours must make a formal application to the degree program online.

Course Work

There is a total of 32 semester hours of course work required as a minimum. There are two options for the MS degree:

Option 1 is the standard physics MS with or without an MS thesis.  Up to 8 semester hours of courses can be substituted with an MS thesis.

Option 2 is the MS with a specialization (up to 23 semester hours of courses) in applied physics, engineering physics, biophysics, chemical physics, material physics, mathematical physics, and computational physics.

Graduate students desiring the MS with thesis option should arrange a thesis with a faculty advisor. The student may choose a field of research from three possible areas as outlined under the PhD dissertation section. The thesis must demonstrate the individual's capacity to execute independent work based on original material. The thesis must be approved by the graduate committee. The thesis may be completed in one semester (e.g., summer semester) or in consecutive semesters. Students who have not completed their thesis after the required number of thesis credits (12 semester hours) must register for MS Thesis with the appropriate course number each subsequent semester until the thesis is approved by the graduate school and submitted electronically to Proquest.

Both options require a minimum of 32 semester hours of graduate credit. The 32 semester hours may include up to 8 semester hours of transfer credit as approved by the physics department's graduate committee and the graduate school.

Complete all courses and requirements listed below unless otherwise indicated.

Required Core

Fall Term 1
PHYS 7301Classical Mechanics/Math Methods4
PHYS 7302Electromagnetic Theory4
PHYS 7315Quantum Theory 14
May be taken either first or second year:
PHYS 7321Computational Physics4
Spring Term 1
PHYS 7305Statistical Physics4
PHYS 7316Quantum Theory 24


  • Course work
  • Thesis
  • Thesis with specialization1

Course Work Option

Note: In consultation with your faculty advisor you may choose an area of specialization from physics, engineering, chemistry, biology, mathematics, psychology, or computer science. Additional elective courses are listed in the PhD program.

Complete 8 semester hours from the following:
Astrophysics and Cosmology
Introduction to Particle and Nuclear Physics
Physics of Advanced Materials
Quantum Mechanics
Complex Networks and Applications
Introduction to Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
Principles of Experimental Physics
Elementary Particle Physics
Condensed Matter Physics
Biological Physics 1


PHYS 7990Thesis1-4
Complete 4 semester hours from the following:4
Astrophysics and Cosmology
Introduction to Particle and Nuclear Physics
Physics of Advanced Materials
Quantum Mechanics

Thesis with Specialization1

Applied physics, engineering physics, biophysics, chemical physics, materials physics, mathematical physics, or computational physics.

PHYS 7990Thesis1-4
Complete course work in consultation with faculty advisor.28

Program Credit/GPA Requirements

32 total semester hours required
Minimum 3.000 GPA required


Note that the specialization will not appear on the degree diploma or on the official transcript but can be listed as the field of study on CVs and grant proposals.