Dec 04, 2022  
2021-2022 Graduate Bulletin 
2021-2022 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics, MS

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The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers courses and research opportunities leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the areas of astronomy and astrophysics, atomic and molecular physics, low and intermediate energy nuclear physics, condensed matter physics, and particle physics. More detailed descriptions of each of these options is available at

Opportunities exist for experimental, theoretical, and computational, and observational research. Excellent laboratory facilities and library materials are available. Major facilities located within the Department are the six million volt Van de Graaff accelerator and the Center for Advanced Materials. Computational resources include the Lipscomb HPC cluster and access to XSEDE, NERSC, TACC, JLab and BNL. The Department is active in research at many national laboratories, including Jefferson Lab (Virginia), Oak Ridge National Lab (Tennessee), Los Alamos National Lab (New Mexico), Argonne National Lab. (Illinois), Brookhaven National Lab (New York), Triangle Universities Nuclear Lab (North Carolina), National High Magnetic Field Facility (Florida), and Lawrence Berkeley Lab (California) as well as international laboratories including Paul Scherrer Institute (Switzerland), TRIUMF (Vancouver), and MAX-lab (Sweden). In astronomy our students conduct research at facilities including the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (West Virginia), Arecibo Observatory (Puerto Rico), Kitt Peak National Observatory (Arizona), McDonald Observatory (Texas), and the Hubble Space Telescope, and participate in collaborations including Sloan Digital Sky Survey-IV (SDSS-IV) and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). Such activities expose our graduate students to state-of-the-art instrumentation and world-class researchers. 


Admission Requirements 

In addition to the admissions requirements of the Graduate School, the Department of Physics & Astronomy requires graduate applicants to have a sound foundation in undergraduate physics. This foundation will normally include advanced courses in classical mechanics, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics. Applicants are encouraged to take the GRE physics subject exam. Applicants wishing to apply for financial aid in the form of a teaching assistantship, research assistantship or fellowship must supply letters of recommendation from three individuals familiar with their academic capabilities. Such applicants must also submit a written statement of their interests and background in physics.  

Admissions requirements are the same for the M.S. and the Ph.D. programs except that applicants for the Ph.D. must possess an interest in carrying out original research at the advanced level. 


Degree Requirements  

The M.S. program can include an emphasis on basic or applied physics or physics education, and students are encouraged to take courses in related programs that satisfy the appropriate academic objectives. Before taking the M.S. oral exam, the M.S. student must have completed (with a B average): 

Plan A (thesis): 

30 credit hours in approved graduate courses including: 

  • 16 hours of regularly scheduled courses (excludes the following course types: research, independent study, practicum, residency) 
  • 16 hours with PHY prefix (not including 768 hours)  
  • 12 hours at the 600/700 level (not including 768 hours) 
  • 2 hours of PHY 770   
  • Up to 6 hours of PHY 768  (optional) 

Plan B (non-thesis):  

30 credit hours in approved graduate courses including: 

  • 20 hours of regularly scheduled courses (excludes the following course types: research, independent study, practicum, residency) 
  • 20 hours with PHY prefix 
  • 15 hours at the 600/700 level 

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