The M.S. Program


The M.S. Degree in Physics

A minimum of 24 credits (3.00 GPA) are required for the M.S. For both the thesis and non-thesis option the student must be in compliance with 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. Additional 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 24-credit requirement. These credits can easily be obtained in two or three terms of full residence. Not more than six credits of graduate work completed at another institution may be accepted by the Graduate Committee toward the completion of this 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 for the M.S. degree.  Download current requirements.


There are three ways to earn an M.S. degree:

  1. Submit a thesis and complete six courses (at least four at the graduate 2000-level subject to the above requirements and the balance at the undergraduate 1300-level).
  2. Submit no thesis and complete eight courses (at least four at the graduate 2000-level subject to the above requirements and the balance at the undergraduate 1300-level).
  3. Submit no thesis and complete at least six courses at the graduate 2000-level or beyond. (Appropriate reading courses, Directed Study, or other academic activity will be assigned by the department to enable the student to accumulate the requisite 24 credits in this option.)


The candidate must maintain a GPA of at least 3.00 for all core courses and for all graduate courses overall.

Comprehesive Examination

The Comprehensive Examination for M.S. students is equivalent of the Preliminary Evaluation for Ph.D. students. Refer to Section A.III, Preliminary Evaluation.

Thesis and Oral Thesis Examination

A thesis for the M.S. 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 M.S. 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. 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 M.S. 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. 

Petition Procedure

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.