Master of Science Degree

I. The Department of Physics offers a major in Physics for the Master of Science degree with concentrations in General Physics and Computational Physics. Program objectives are: (1) development of an in-depth and specialized knowledge of physical phenomena; (2) ability to successfully demonstrate analytic cognitive knowledge in physics and communications skills through close interaction with other students and the physics faculty; and (3) preparation to continue studies in a Ph.D. program, enter a professional school, or enter the workforce as a technical professional.

II. MS Degree Program

A. Program Admission Requirements

  1. For admission to the graduate program, a Bachelor’s degree in Physics or a closely related area is required; no minimum undergraduate GPA is specified. Students are also required to present, as a prerequisite, 20 semester hours of undergraduate physics courses including upper division Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, and approved Mathematics courses in Calculus and Differential Equations.
  2. The GRE general test is recommended and may enhance an applicant's likelihood of admissions. The GRE subject test is not required.
  3. Students from non-English speaking countries are required to demonstrate proficiency in English via the TOEFL examination. The minimum acceptable score is 550 (or 210 on the computer-based TOEFL).

B. Program Requirements

  1. After meeting the general degree requirements for admission to The Graduate School, students selecting Physics as a major will be assigned to the Physics Department Graduate Committee, which must approve and direct their course of study.
  2. Core requirements
    1. PHYS 7100, 7200, 7300, 7386, and 7520.
    2. Satisfactory completion of a comprehensive written examination typically taken during the second year of graduate study.
  3. Concentration Requirements (Students may elect either a thesis or non-thesis program.)
    1. General Physics, thesis option
      1. Sufficient additional courses, including 3-6 semester hours in PHYS 7996, Thesis, to satisfy a minimum of 30 semester hours (9 semester hours may be in a collateral field of study). 18 semester hours must be taken in physics courses numbered 7000 or above.
      2. The student must present a research proposal to the graduate thesis committee at the end of the first semester of his/her study.
      3. The student must complete a research project, submit a written thesis describing the research, orally present and defend the thesis before a faculty committee. Students should familiarize themselves with the Thesis/ Dissertation Preparation Guide before beginning to write.
    2. General Physics, non-thesis option
      1. Sufficient additional courses to satisfy a minimum of 33 semester hours, in which 9 may be in a collateral field of study. 21 semester hours must be taken in physics courses numbered 7000 or above.
      2. Complete a survey of an area of current research in fundamental or applied physics and make an oral and written presentation based on this survey before a faculty committee. The subject of this survey must be approved by the departmental graduate committee at least one semester prior to graduation.
    3. Computational Physics, thesis program
      1. PHYS 7385
      2. PHYS 7996 Thesis; must contain a strong computational physics component
      3. Completion of at least two of the following 7 courses (for a total of 6 credit hours) CHEM 6415, CHEM 7411, CHEM 7414, MATH 6391, MATH 6721, MATH 7321, PHYS 7375
    4. Computational Physics, non-thesis program
      1. PHYS 7385
      2. Completion of at least two of the following 7 courses (for a total of 6 credit hours) CHEM 6415, CHEM 7411, CHEM 7414, MATH 6391, MATH 6721, MATH 7321, PHYS 7375


6000-09. Special Topics in Physics. (3). Selected topics of current interest in physics. Topics are varied and announced in online class listings.

6020. Biophysics (3). Covers biomolecules, RASMOL program for viewing protein pdb files, ideal gas, Brownian motion, diffusion, Nernst-Planck eq., life in the low Reynold's number world, free energy, Boltzmann distribution, entropic forces, RNA folding, hair cell chemo-mechanical amplifier, water, osmotic flow, Oosawa force, electric double layer interaction, Poisson-Boltzmann eq., chemical potential, dissociation reactions, self-assembly, cooperativity, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, DNA stretching and melting, thermal ratchets, Smoluchowski eq., Michelis-Menten vs. allosteric enzymes, molecular motors, Nernst potentials, Donnan equilibrium, ion pumps, bacterial flagellar motor, ATP synthase, potassium channels. PREREQUISITE: calculus-based PHYS 2120.

6021. Applied Radiation Physics. (3). Applied radiation and radioactivity; types of radiation, radiation management, interaction with matter, and biological effects; radiation safety aspects emphasized. PREREQUISITES: PHYS 2120 or 2020 and MATH 1910.

6040. Medical Physics. (3). Physics of sensory, respiratory, and circulatory systems; physical basis of radiology and nuclear medicine. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 2120 or both PHYS 2020 and MATH 1910.

6050. Astrophysics I. (3). Principles of physics applied to the objects of the universe, e.g., planets, sun, stars, etc. Also includes and introduction to electromagnetic radiation and telescopes. Recommended for science and engineering majors interested in astronomy. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 2120 or PHYS 2520.

6051. Astrophysics II. (3). Principles of physics applied to star birth and death, black holes and neutron stars, galaxies and quasars, the beginning and evolution of the universe. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 3051.

6060. Advanced Physics Methodology. (3). Students will perform advanced fundamental experiments in physics focusing on underlying physical principles, the scientific methodology of experimental research, and detailed error analysis. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 3010.

6110. Nuclear Physics. (3). Properties of atomic nuclei; radioactive transitions; alpha, beta, and gamma decay; binding energy, nuclear forces, and nuclear models. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 3010.

6121. Mechanics II. (3). Advanced classical mechanics: central–force motion, dynamics of a system of particles, motion in non-inertial reference frames, dynamics of rigid bodies, coupled oscillations, and continuous systems (wave motion).

6211. Optics. (3). Geometrical and physical optics including such topics as thin lenses, spherical mirrors, lens aberrations, optical instruments, waves interference, diffraction, absorption, transmission, and scatterings. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 3011, 3211.

6410. Introduction to Quantum Theory. (3). Experimental basis of quantum theory; development of the Schrodinger equation and its solution for simple systems; selected applications in atomic and molecular structure. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 3010, 3011, 3211.

6510. Thermodynamics. (3). A mathematical treatment of thermodynamics, including such topics as work, energy, enthalpy, entropy, reversible and irreversible processes, equilibria, specific heats, and phase transitions. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 2120, 3011.

6610. Solid State Physics. (3). Consideration of such topics as lattice vibrations, specific heats, electrical and thermal conduction in solids, magnetism. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 4410 or 6610.

7010. Fundamental Concepts of Classical Physics for Teachers. (3). Basic concepts of Newtonian mechanics, heat, and sound; emphasis on increasing understanding in classical physics, providing demonstrations of physical principles suitable for classroom use, and designing and performing laboratory experiments. Credit does not apply toward a major or minor in chemistry or physics.

‡7011. Physics Practicum I. (1). Practicum or laboratory experiments, laboratory techniques, laboratory management, and supervised experience in presenting demonstrations with emphasis on concepts covered in Physics 7010. Two laboratory hours per week. COREQUISITE: PHYS 7010.

‡7021. Physics Practicum II. (1). Continuation of Physics 7011 with emphasis on concepts covered in Physics 7020. Two laboratory hours per week. COREQUISITE: PHYS 7020.

‡7031. Physics Practicum III. (1). Continuation of Physics 7021 with emphasis on concepts covered in Physics 7030. Two laboratory hours per week. COREQUISITE: PHYS 7030.

7050-59. Special Topics in Advanced Physics. (3-6). Selected topics in advanced physics. Topics are varied and announced in online class listings.

‡7060. Individual Study in Advanced Physics. (1-3). Independent investigation of an area of advanced physics under supervision of a Physics faculty member. Written report required. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 hours credit. PREREQUISITE: permission of chair.

†7080. Teaching Skills for Graduate Assistants. (3). Overview of teaching techniques and classroom management for physics laboratory instructors; includes practical demonstrations in laboratory physics. May be repeated for a maximum of 12 credit hours. PREREQUISITE: Limited to physics majors and permission of graduate coordinator.

†7090. Workshop in Professional Development for Graduate Students. (3). Presentations by Physics faculty and students on current research topic; oral presentation required based on research performed under the supervision of a faculty member. PREREQUISITE: Limited to physics majors and permission of graduate coordinator.

7100-8100. Classical Mechanics. (3). An analytical study of mechanics of particles and rigid bodies by Lagrange’s, Hamilton’s and Hamilton-Jacobi methods. The special theory of relativity, canonical transformation, and Poisson brackets are among the concepts emphasized.

7200-8200. Quantum Mechanics I. (3). Physical principles and mathematical formalism of quantum theory, with emphasis on applications in atomic, molecular, and solid state physics; scattering theory; and absorption and emission of electromagnetic radiation. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 6410 or equivalent.

7201-8201. Quantum Mechanics II. (3). Continuation of PHYS 7200; scattering theory, quantum dynamics, spin, perturbation methods, and Hartree-Fock. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 7200.

7210. Relativistic Quantum Mechanics. (3). Quantum mechanics of relativistic particles including the Dirac equation, relativistic covariance, solutions for free particles, particles in electromagnetic fields, particles in central fields, methods of approximation and massless particles. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 7200 or permission of instructor.

7220. Relativistic Quantum Fields. (3). General formalism of fields, the Klein-Gordon field, second quantization of the Dirac field, quantization of electromagnetic fields, interacting fields, scattering matrix perturbation theory, dispersion relations, and renormalization. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 7210 or permission of instructor.

7230. Elementary Particles. (3). Introduction to elementary particles, elementary particle dynamics, relativistic kinematics, symmetries, bound states, Feynman calculus, quantum electrodynamics, electrodynamics of quarks and hadrons, quantum chromodynamics, weak interactions, and gauge theories. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 7200 or permission of instructor.

7300. Electrodynamics. (3). An advanced course in electricity and magnetism; topics include fields and potentials, energy methods, steady currents and magnetic materials, Maxwell’s equations, and electromagnetic waves.

7375. Methods of Mathematical Physics I. (3). (Same as MATH 7375). Finite dimensional vector spaces, matrices, tensors, vector fields, function spaces, differential and integral operators, transform theory, partial differential equations. PREREQUISITE: Background in ordinary differential equations and linear algebra.

7376. Methods of Mathematical Physics II. (3). (Same as MATH 7376). Continuation of PHYS 7375. Complex variable theory, asymptotic expansions, special functions, calculus of variations, additional topics on matrices and operators, topics in non-linear analysis. PREREQUISITE: PHYS 7375.

7385. Methods of Computational Physics. (3). Solution of problems in macroscopic and atomic-level problems in physics by numerical analysis and computer simulation, with emphasis on the accuracy and efficiency of large-scale computations and the physical interpretation of results.

7386. Methods of Theoretical Physics. (3). Use of orthogonal functions in solving problems of continuum mechanics, electrodynamics, and quantum mechanics; algebra of commutators applied to angular momentum; introduction to group theory and symmetry groups in physics.

7520-8520. Statistical Mechanics. (3). Elements of kinetic theory and applications to gases, specific heats, magnetism, etc.; partition functions, introduction to Boltzmann statistics and quantum statistics.

7710. Advanced Topics in Spectroscopy. (3). Advanced topics in atomic and molecular spectroscopy, including the interaction of radiation with matter, transition probabilities, hyperfine structure, applications of group theory to spectroscopic problems.

†7995. Seminar. (1-3). Selected topics in physics research including areas of medical physics. Students required to give oral presentation based on library or original research.

†7996. Thesis. (1-6). Original investigation of an assigned problem in the area of graduate study to be carried out under the supervision of a qualified member of the staff. This investigation will furnish the material for a thesis. Scientific articles, progress reports, and special problems of interest are reviewed and discussed by the student in seminars each semester. A maximum of six semester hours credit is allowed toward a master’s degree.

†Grades of S, U, or IP will be given.
‡Grades of A-F, or IP will be given.