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Physics - M.A., M.S., and Ph.D. PDFDownload to print

College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Physics

105 Smith Hall
Tel: 330-672-2246


The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Physics is a highly flexible program consisting of graduate coursework that can be customized according to the academic background and needs of the individual student. This flexibility is a good match for the needs of part-time students who continue to hold full-time employment in secondary education or in industry. Also, students in the Ph.D. program can apply for this M.A. degree after completing the requirements.

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Physics consists of graduate coursework and a research project taking one or two semesters. The research project should result in a written report. Students may choose to complete a thesis which is to be defended orally. This degree provides entry-level qualifications for team research employment or a high school teaching career.

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Physics provides training of professionals to conduct independently conceived programs of research or teaching in universities or research laboratories. Original research is required in fundamental or applied areas of physics, and the Ph.D. dissertation must be orally defended. Two years of graduate coursework, plus four years of research are typical.

Admission Requirements

Official transcript(s), 3.0 GPA (for unconditional admissions), goal statement, three letters of recommendation, resume or vita, and general GRE test scores. A physics subject GRE test score is highly recommended to ensure an application for the Ph.D. program is competitive. For more information about graduate admissions, please visit the Graduate Studies website.

Graduation Requirements

M.A.: A total of 32 semester hours of graduate credit is required, with no more than one half at the 50000 level. The distribution of these hours will be planned by the student together with the faculty advisor to best fulfill the preparation of the student.

M.S.: A total of 32 hours of graduate credit beyond the baccalaureate degree is required. Students are required to complete 12-14 credit hours of core graduate physics courses and 12-14 credit hours of electives to be selected in consultation with the student's faculty advisor and approved by the department. Students must also take at least 6 hours of research or thesis. A research project resulting in a written report is also required, and this may take the form of a thesis to be defended orally.

Ph.D.: A total of 90 hours of credit beyond the baccalaureate degree, or 60 hours of credit beyond the master's degree, is required. Students are required to complete 22 credit hours of core graduate physics and a minimum 38 credit hours of electives selected in consultation with the student's faculty advisor and approved by the department. A minimum of 30 credit hours of dissertation is required. Students may petition to substitute a specific course if a grade of B (3.000) or higher was obtained for a course at another school that is judged to be equivalent. The required physics courses will prepare the student for the candidacy examination. Students present at least one seminar based on their dissertation research during their graduate career.

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of these programs will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate cognitive skills important to a physicist. They will learn to think critically and analytically. They will learn how to define and solve problems in physics. The MS students will be exposed to quantitative research in a contemporary area of physics. The doctoral student will learn how to perform research in contemporary areas of physics research at the highest level and with a great deal of independence.
  2. Demonstrate a core knowledge and understanding of the foundations of physics.
  3. Communicate results of their work to peers, to various target groups within the physics community, and to people outside the discipline. Teaching skills also come under this heading. 
Thesis/ Dissertation

M.S.: Candidates may choose to complete a thesis by registering for 6 credit hours of PHY 60199 Thesis I. The thesis topic is chosen together with the research advisor and must be defended to a committee of physics graduate faculty. 

Ph.D.: A dissertation presenting and interpreting original research is required for the doctoral degree in physics. The requirement is fulfilled upon satisfactory completion of the oral defense and acceptance of the dissertation by the dissertation committee. Topics available for dissertation research are primarily in the areas of condensed matter physics, material science, biophysics, theoretical astrophysics and high-energy nuclear physics.