After obtaining admission to the Graduate College, all students must successfully complete the following steps in order to receive a Master's degree:

Preliminary Examination


A preliminary exam on undergraduate-level physics must be passed. All students will take this exam as a placement exam prior to the first semester of study. Depending on the coutcome, the graduate committee may recommend or require the student to take selected 800-level courses before the corresponding 91x courses. The exam will be offered twice a year, before the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters. Students may take the exam up to three times and must pass it before the beginning of their second academic year.

M.S. Degree Course Work


In addition to the requirements given in the Graduate Studies Bulletin, a candidate for an M.S. degree must satisfactorily complete the following courses:

  • Physics 911: Classical Mechanics
  • Physics 913: Electromagnetic Theory I
  • Physics 916: Quantum Mechanics I
  • Physics 998: Special Topics in Current Research
  • Math 842: Methods of Applied Mathematics I
And one of the following courses:
  • Physics 912: Statistical Physics
  • Physics 914: Electromagnetic Theory II

Math 827 may be substituted for Math 842. This option should be discussed with the Graduate Chair and/or the respective instructors of the two courses. The passing grade in Math 827 is B; the passing grade in Math 842 is C.

Memorandum of Courses


A memorandum of courses, approved by the Supervisory Committee, must be filed with the Office of Graduate Studies. See the Graduate Secretary in the Main Office (208 JH) for assistance.

M.S. Comprehensive Examination


To pass the M.S. Comprehensive Examination, students must have a GPA of at least 2.5 in Physics 911, 912 (or 914), 913, and 916. Students with an average GPA of 3.00 or above in these courses will be awarded an M.S. degree en route to a Ph.D. without having to write a Master's Thesis (Option III as specified in the Graduate Bulletin). This GPA will be reported to Graduate Studies as the grade for the M.S. Comprehensive Exam.

Students with a cumulative GPA below 3.00 but at least 2.50 will be able to obtain the M.S. degree by defending an M.S. thesis and passing an oral exam (Option I as specified in the Graduate Bulletin).

Students with a cumulative GPA below 2.5 for two consecutive semesters will be dismissed from the program.

The Graduate Committee has the option of giving an oral examination, a written examination, or both. Ordinarily the first session of the Comprehensive Examination will be used as the M.S. Comprehensive Exam. This three hour-long session covers mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, optics, elementary quantum mechanics, and experimental physics at the level of the Undergraduate courses through Physics 466 offered by our department. Typically, students in good academic standing will take the M.S. Comprehensive exam in January of their first year. In certain cases, the Graduate Committee may advise a student to delay the time to take the exam.