Masters of Science Degree Program

The Department of Physics and Applied Physics offers Master of Science degrees in Physics and in Radiological Sciences and Protection. The master’s program in Physics provides an opportunity for advanced study and research in most of the areas mentioned above, including a M.S. option in Optical Sciences. The master’s program in Radiological Sciences and Protection is described elsewhere in this catalog.

Graduate Credits and Course Requirements

At least 30 graduate credit hours are required. For the Thesis Option, at least 6 and at most 12 credits are to be M.S. research. For the Project Option, a maximum of 3 credits of M.S. Project will be allowed. Alternatively, the student may substitute satisfactory performance on the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination for completion of an M.S. Thesis or Project. For this option, a maximum of 6 research credits, and no more than 12 transfer credits, can be applied toward the M.S. degree. At most, 3 credits of Physics Colloquium and Seminar courses may be applied to the 30 credit requirements. Candidates for the Master of Science degree in Physics, except those in the Optical Sciences Concentration, are required to complete the following courses:

  • PHYS.6050 Mathematical Methods of Physics I (3-0)3
  • PHYS.7110/7120 Graduate Seminar in Physics (1-0)1
  • PHYS.7010/7020 Physics Colloquium (1-0)1
  • Thesis 6-12 Credits or, Project 3 Credits, 4 Electives

Electives may be chosen in consultation with the academic advisor and research supervisor from the list of Physics courses acceptable for graduate credit. Some graduate courses offered by other departments may also be acceptable for graduate credit in Physics, with the approval of the Physics Department. All students are expected to have completed as part of their undergraduate studies a two-semester course in electromagnetic theory (PHYS.5530/5540 or equivalent) and a two-semester course in introductory quantum mechanics (PHYS.535/536 or equivalent). These courses cannot be counted as one of the 4 Physics electives needed for the M.S. requirement.

Optical Sciences Option

This program is designed to provide the necessary preparation for students wishing to specialize in such rapidly expanding fields as electro-optical phenomena, lasers, applications of optics to telecommunications and information processing, fiber optics and other new optical materials and devices. This option is intended for students who have completed a bachelor’s degree program in Physics, Engineering, or other sciences. It is offered in cooperation with the Department of Electrical Engineering which offers an allied option in Opto-electronics. The Optical Sciences option emphasizes laboratory research providing the student valuable “hands-on” experience with optical systems and devices. Two course sequences are available (1) for students with a B.S. in Physics and (2) for students with a B.S. in Engineering or another scientific discipline.

Course requirements for the Optical Sciences Concentration:

For Students with a Physics B.S.

  • PHYS.6050 Math. Meth. Phys. I (3-0)3
  • PHYS.5390 Electro-Optics (3-0)3
  • PHYS.5770 SS Electronic & Optoelectronic Devices (3-0)3
  • Seminars and Colloquium 3 Credits
  • Thesis 6-12 Credits or,
  • Project 3 Credits
  • 2 Electives

For Students with B.S. in other Sciences or Engineering*

  • PHYS.6050 Math. Meth. Phys. I (3-0)3 
  • PHYS.5470 Laser Physics and App. (3-0)3
  • PHYS.5390 Electro-Optics with Lab (3,3)4
  • PHYS.5100 Quantum Physics (3-0)3 
  • Seminars and Colloquium 3 Credits
  • Thesis 6-12 Credits or, Project 3 Credits
  • 2 Electives

Electives must be chosen from the following list of courses:

  • PHYS.5400 Image Processing & Lab (2-3)4
  • PHYS.5470 Laser Physics and Applications (3-0)3
  • PHYS.5510 Fiber Optics & Lab (2-3)4
  • PHYS.5720 Solid State Physics (3-0)3
  • PHYS.5780 Integrated Optics: Wave Guides and Lasers (3-0)3
  • PHYS.6150 Quant. Mech I (3-0)3 
  • PHYS.6310 Non-Linear Optics (3-0)3
  • PHYS.5470 Experimental Laser Optics (12)2
  • EECE.5680 Electro-Optics System Design (3-0)3
  • EECE.6100 Optics for Information Processing (3-0)3

*Assuming adequate preparation in mathematics and electromagnetism.


All full-time master’s candidates are required to attend Physics Colloquium, PHYS.7010/7020, each semester.


All full-time master’s candidates are required to take PHYS.7110/7120 Graduate Seminar in Physics, in addition to the Colloquium each semester. After a student has presented a seminar in PHYS.7110/7120 (s)he may substitute one of the other seminars offered by the Department.

Thesis or Project

The thesis or project is to be based on research performed under the supervision of a member or adjunct member of the Physics Faculty. A student may do a thesis or project under the supervision of a faculty member in another department provided he has a member of the Physics Faculty as a co-supervisor. The student must submit to the Department, for its approval, nine copies of a typewritten proposal briefly describing the project or the problem to be solved for the thesis. This proposal must bear the written approval of the research supervisor. A thesis student must submit the proposal prior to or during the first semester of registration in M.S. Thesis Research in Physics. Students registered for Thesis must submit a brief progress report on the research to the Graduate Coordinator each semester unless a thesis is submitted. Students registered for M.S. Project Research in Physics must submit a final report and complete an oral defense of the Project before the end of the semester. An M.S. Project may not be carried over into a second semester. After completing the work, thesis students must submit three copies of a typewritten thesis to the Department. The student must then pass an oral examination, administered by a Thesis Committee of the Department appointed by the Graduate Coordinator. The examination will be based upon, but not necessarily restricted to, the subject of the thesis. A student who completes a project rather than a thesis must submit three copies of the final project report to the department and pass an oral examination based upon, but not necessarily restricted to, the subject of the project.

Bachelor's-Master's Program