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Physics Master's Degrees

For students interested in pursuing a Master of Science (M.S.) in Physics

All applicants apply to the Physics or Photonics Ph.D. programs. Admitted students who do not already have the M.S. degree will earn one on the way to completing the Ph.D. Students who want the M.S. only may stop at that point. See requirements for each below.

M.S. in Physics

The requirements for the Master of Science (M.S.) in physics degree include the completion of 30 semester credit hours beyond the B.S. and the submission of an acceptable thesis based on original and independent research. This program normally takes no more than two years to complete.


The following specific courses must be taken:


  • PHYS 5113 Statistical Thermodynamics and Kinetic Theory
  • PHYS 5313 Electromagnetic Theory
  • PHYS 5413 Classical Mechanics
  • PHYS 5453 Methods of Theoretical Physics
  • PHYS 5613 Quantum Mechanics I

In addition, nine semester credit hours of electives must be completed in physics, mathematics, or an allied field. These must be chosen in consultation with one's advisor. For example, an advanced course in the mathematics department along with Solid State I and II in the physics department might be reasonable choices for someone interested in a materials specialization. For others, one or more courses from the electrical engineering department might be preferable. The remaining six semester hours must be thesis research credits designated as PHYS 5000.

Non-Thesis Master of Science (M.S.) in Physics

In addition to the Master of Science (M.S.) in physics, we offer the Non-Thesis Master of Science (M.S.) in physics degree. This program is directed toward students who do not envision a commitment to research in physics as part of their career goals. For example this master's degree may be an option for prospective high school and junior college teachers who wish to gain an advanced perspective on the subject they teach and to open further career pathways in teaching. Students looking toward other professions, such as medicine or management, but needing an advanced technical background in the physical sciences, may also want to consider this option.

The Non-Thesis M.S. requires completion of the five courses listed above. In addition, 15 elective graduate credit hours are required in physics or a related field. However, the thesis is replaced by a 2-credit hour report.

M.S. in Physics, Option in Photonics

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Physics, Option in Photonics offers both a thesis Track and a report track. The requirements for each of these two degree tracks are described below.


Both of these options are aimed at students who intend to take either the M.S. in Physics with Optic/Photonics Option as a terminal degree, or as the first graduate degree before transferring to the Photonics or Physics Ph.D. program.


Thesis Track

30 credit hours required past baccalaureate degree


Two required PHYS courses (six credit hours):


  • PHYS 5453 Methods of Theoretical Physics
  • PHYS 5613 Quantum Mechanics I

Three photonics core courses (nine credit hours) chosen from the following list with advisor approval:


  • PHYS 5163 Lasers
  • PHYS 5123 Geometrical Optics (cross-listed as ECEN 5803)
  • PHYS 5303 Physical Optics (cross-listed as ECEN 5823)
  • ECEN 5080 Design of Lasers and Systems
  • ECEN 5833 Fiber-optic Communication Systems

Three or more advanced PHYS or ECEN courses (nine credit hours) at the graduate level from the two groups of electives given below. A minimum of one course and a maximum of two will be taken from Group I. Courses at the graduate level from other departments may be substituted for electives in Group II with physics department permission, but alternate courses must have a strong connection to optics and photonics.



  • PHYS 5313 Electromagnetic Theory
  • PHYS 6713 Advanced Electromagnetic Radiation
  • ECEN 5613 Electromagnetic Theory


  • PHYS 5133 Laser Spectroscopy
  • PHYS 5663 Solid State I
  • PHYS 6313 Quantum Mechanics II
  • PHYS 6413 Nonlinear Optics
  • PHYS 6423 Quantum Optics
  • ECEN 5843 Microelectronic Fabrication
  • ECEN 5853 Ultrafast Optoelectronics
  • ECEN 5793 Digital Image Processing

Six credit hours (or more) of supervised research (PHYS 5000, or equivalent), with submission of an approved thesis. Flexibility in course choice is allowed with permission of the physics department.


Report Track

32 credit hours


The report option requires two additional advanced courses at the graduate level, for a total of 30 credit hours of course work. These courses can be in other departments, but must have a strong connection to optics and photonics. Students must also complete a 2-credit hour report.

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