The Department of Physics and Astronomy has approximately 25 Master’s students and approximately 50 PhD students.
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Students in our PhD in Physics program choose either a Standard Concentration for traditional physics programs that focus on Astrophysics, Condensed Matter Theory, Dynamical Systems/Biological Physics, High Energy Physics, Materials Physics, or Space Sciences, or an Engineering Physics Concentration that combines the disciplines of physics, mathematics, and engineering. The doctoral students accepted into each concentration of the physics PhD program take a required set of core courses for the given concentration.
By working with the dissertation committee, a student in the Standard Concentration may choose to specialize in an emphasis area such as Astrophysics, Condensed Matter Theory, Dynamical Systems/Biological Physics, High Energy Physics, Materials Physics, Space Sciences, or others according to his or her particular interests. A student in the Engineering Physics Concentration may choose to specialize in Applied Mechanics, or other applied and engineering physics areas. By the end of their first year, all students should pair with a faculty advisor who will guide them toward doctoral candidacy.
This degree contains elements of traditional physics programs and the application of physics to a diversity of critical societal problems, divided into three areas of emphasis.
Many courses are offered during late afternoon or evening hours to allow students with full-time employment to easily attend. Students employed at area high-technology organizations may take up to 6 credits (out of 30) for work done on the job under the guidance of a faculty member. This employment-related research may be conducted under an optional 3-credit research project or an optional 6-credit master’s thesis. Master’s students who are not employed full time may apply for financial aid or a limited number of research assistantships.
Energy and Sustainability Concentration, offered through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences
The MA in interdisciplinary studies is for students who seek a master’s degree that integrates knowledge from several disciplines. It addresses the rapidly evolving demand for unique graduate study by promoting advanced scholarship that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries.
This concentration, offered in concert with the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is designed for students interested in careers in energy and sustainability-related positions in the public, private, or non-profit sectors, including law, national and international policy, media, government, and business. As one of the University’s Green Leaf academic programs, the concentration in energy and sustainability focuses on finding ways to meet present needs for energy and material goods without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. A sustainability education lies at the intersection of environmental science, engineering, economics, business, public policy, social justice, and many other areas. Energy required to fuel all of these endeavors is a crucial component of sustainability.
This program allows academically strong undergraduates with a commitment to research to obtain BS and MS degrees by successfully completing 144 credits within five academic years plus summers their last two years. On completion, students are exceptionally well-prepared for entry into a professional school or a PhD program in physics or a related discipline. Well-prepared students are encouraged to apply to this program after they complete 90 credits. Admitted students take selected graduate courses during their senior year (when they have successfully completed prerequisites) and are able to use up to 6 graduate credits in partial satisfaction of requirements for the undergraduate degree. On completion and conferral of that degree and with satisfactory performance (3.00) in the graduate courses, students are given advanced standing in the master’s program and complete an additional 24 credits to receive the master’s degree. All other master’s degree requirements must be met. Contact the Physics undergraduate or graduate academic advisor for further details.
Highly-qualified undergraduates may be admitted to the bachelor’s/accelerated master’s program and obtain both a BS in Physics and an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction, Secondary Education Physics Concentration in an accelerated time-frame after satisfactory completion of 149 credits. This accelerated option is offered jointly by the department of Physics and Astronomy and the Graduate School of Education.