Graduate Degree Programs

The department typically has between 30 to 35 graduate students, primarily in the Doctoral program.

Degree programs are offered leading to the following:

Both the Doctoral and MS degrees require a thesis. The ME in Engineering Physics has both a thesis and non-thesis option. The Department generally does not offer any financial support for students in the non-thesis option.

Admission to the degree programs is competitive. We primarily admit students for the Fall semester with only occasional openings for the Spring semester. We begin review of completed applications in late January (apply through the Graduate School). We consider all eligible applicants for support. If support is not required, please be sure to note that in the application.

We require the GRE General exam and the GRE Physics Subject exam Due to the pandemic, the department is waiving both the GRE and GRE Physics requirement for admission in 2021. If you have a score, please provide it to us. As the Physics exam is offered infrequently we will consider applications without the exam. We expect a Bachelor’s degree or higher in physics or a related field with at least a 3.0 in physics & math. For those from related fields we would like to see substantial advanced physics courses. The TOEFL or equivalent (see Graduate School website) is required for International students. The Graduate School requires a minimum iBT TOEFL score of 92 (7.0 on IELTS) to be considered for support as a TA.

See the Graduate School for application details.

Our programs have several advantages:

  • small classes; effective student-faculty ratios
  • access to wide array of research opportunities
  • frequent colloquia and topical seminars
  • opportunities to network with university, government, and industry lab professionals

Current Graduate Students: Look here for all forms.


Doctor of Philosophy

Typically a total of 5-6 years are needed to complete the Ph.D. degree for a student who enters the program with a bachelor’s degree. This time is approximately equally divided between course work and dissertation research. A dissertation presenting the results of an original investigation in a specialized area of physics is an essential feature of the program and must be completed and defended successfully. Requirements also include passing the Oral Proposal Defense within the prescribed timelines.

The program of study for each student in the Ph.D. program includes a minimum of 30 course hours. The following courses, or their equivalents, are required of all students:

  • PHY 501 Mechanics
  • PHY 502 Electrodynamics I
  • PHY 574 Methods of Theoretical Physics I
  • PHY 503 Quantum Mechanics I
  • PHY 603 Quantum Mechanics II
  • PHY 512 Statistical Mechanics
  • PHY 510 Graduate Laboratory
  • PHY 624 Solid State I

In addition, students must take at least one advanced course, chosen from among the following:

  • PHY 598 Continuum Mechanics
  • PHY 602 Electrodynamics II
  • PHY 575 Methods of Theoretical Physics II
  • PHY 598 Statistical Mechanics II
  • PHY 625 Solid State II.

Students must also take at least one research specialty elective course, which must be approved by the student’s dissertation advisory committee. These electives do not have to be PHY courses, and they can not be from among the 400-level PHY undergraduate core courses in Electricity and Magnetism, Quantum and Atomic Physics, Thermodynamics, Statistical Mechanics, Mathematical Methods, or Optics.

In general, additional courses beyond the above minimal requirements are expected to be included in a student’s program of study, at the discretion of the student’s dissertation committee (or the Department Graduate Coordinator prior to formation of the dissertation committee). Each of the 400-level undergraduate core courses may be taken for graduate credit under this additional course expectation.

Look up physics courses by their designators under Graduate Courses Offered.

Summary of Requirements
Graduate Thesis Committee: Must be formed by the end of the second semester.

Oral Comprehensive Examination: Ph.D. candidates must pass by the end of their seventh semester.
Helpful Examination Documents:

Dissertation Defense: Must be passed within five years of passing the Oral Comprehensive Examination.

For more information about the Ph.D. in Physics, click here.

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Master of Science

The Master of Science program emphasizes both the understanding of physical phenomena and the development of physical measurement and research techniques.

Specialized courses in the student’s research interest and allied fields precede a written thesis. M.S. degree candidates must pass an oral exam on the thesis work.

Required Topics:
(offered every year)

  • PHY 501 Mechanics
  • PHY 502 Electrodynamics I
  • PHY 503 Quantum Mechanics I

Recommended Topics:

  • PHY 512 Statistical Mechanics
  • PHY 574 & 575 Methods of Theoretical Physics I & II
  • PHY 510 Graduate Laboratory (using modern instrumentation)

Look up physics courses by their designators under Graduate Courses Offered. For more information about the Master’s of Science in Physics, click here.

Graduation Requirements:

24 credits Graduate level courses
+ 6 credits Thesis work (includes oral examination)
30 credits Minimum credits for graduation

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Master of Engineering in Engineering Physics

The Master of Engineering in Engineering Physics program is exciting, emphasizing the accretion of the student’s physics and engineering skills. This is a continuance of the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s innovative and ABET-accredited Engineering Physics degree.

Specialized courses in the student’s research area of interest and allied fields precede a written thesis. M.S. degree candidates must pass an oral exam on the thesis work.

Required Courses
(choose 3 of 4)

  • PHY 501 Mechanics I
  • PHY 502 Electrodynamics I
  • PHY 503 Quantum Mechanics I
  • PHY 510 Graduate Laboratory
  • Three electives (9 credits) from engineering course sequence

Recommended Topics

  • PHY 512 Statistical Mechanics
  • PHY 574 & PHY 575 Methods of Theoretical Physics

Look up physics courses by their designators under Graduate Courses Offered. For more information about the Masters’ of Science in Engineering Physics, click here.

Graduation Requirements:

24 credits Graduate level courses (PHY, ENG, MAT, CHY, other sciences)
+ 6 credits Thesis work, with oral exam (non-thesis option 36 approved course credits not including thesis credits.)
30 credits Minimum credits for graduation

The Masters in Engineering Physics has a non-thesis option which replaces the six credits of thesis and an oral defense with 12 credits (typically 4 classes) of approved course work, for a total of 36 credits. The Department does not provide financial support for students in this program.

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