Masters in Physics

Master of Science
Main Campus - Melbourne
Major Code: 8101 Degree Awarded: Master of Science
Delivery Mode(s): Classroom Age Restriction: No
Admission Status: Graduate Location(s): Main Campus - Melbourne
Admission Materials: 3 letters of recommendation, résumé, objectives  

Graduate study in physics at the master's level generally follows one of two tracks. Either it aims to provide a sound core-course education in several fundamental, broad areas of physics at an advanced level to prepare the student for continued and specialized study toward the doctoral degree, or it may be directed toward preparing the student to apply his/her knowledge of physics to industry or other nonacademic environments. Coursework for the latter track tends to be more specialized and narrowly focused. The master of science program in physics attempts to serve both objectives, offering a balanced combination of basic core courses and those designed for applied physicists.

Admission Requirements

An applicant for admission should have an undergraduate degree in physics, any subfield of space sciences (astronomy and astrophysics, geosciences, planetary sciences, astrobiology) or an engineering field. All entering physics graduate students are required to be prepared in mathematics at least through vector analysis.

General admission requirements and the process for applying are presented in the Academic Overview section. The GRE scores from both the general and subject tests in physics are recommended but not required.

Degree Requirements

The master's degree is conferred on students who have satisfactorily completed a minimum of 30 semester credit hours of graduate study. A master's thesis is optional.

Master's degree students must complete the following five core courses with a grade of C or better:

Core Courses (15 credit hours)
  • MTH 5201 Mathematical Methods in Science and Engineering 1
    Credit Hours: 0
  • PHY 5015 Analytical Mechanics 1
    Credit Hours: 0
  • PHY 5017 Electromagnetic Theory 1
    Credit Hours: 0
  • PHY 5030 Quantum Mechanics 1
    Credit Hours: 0
  • PHY 5082 Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics
    Credit Hours: 0


In addition, students must take three subject courses and six semester credit hours of Thesis (PHY 5999). Students choosing to complete a nonthesis program must take two additional subject courses in place of the six semester credit hours of thesis. The subject courses must be PHY or SPS 5000-level or higher, and must include at least two courses from the following:

Subject Courses

     Select a minimum of two courses from the following:

  • MTH 5202 Mathematical Methods in Science and Engineering 2
    Credit Hours: 0
  • PHY 5018 Electromagnetic Theory 2
    Credit Hours: 0
  • PHY 5031 Quantum Mechanics 2
    Credit Hours: 0
  • PHY 5035 Solid State Physics 1
    Credit Hours: 0
  • PHY 5045 Introduction to Elementary Particle Physics
    Credit Hours: 0


Students are allowed to take at most one subject course outside the department (PHY or SPS) in addition to Mathematical Methods in Science and Engineering 2 (MTH 5202). Course substitutions must be approved by the department head and the Graduate Research and Academic Steering Panel (GRASP).


A general written examination is required in the first semester of residence for diagnosing any deficiencies in undergraduate preparation. Any deficiencies must be removed before a degree will be granted, as evidenced by this examination.


Before the master's degree is granted, the student must pass a final oral examination administered by a committee of three or more members of the graduate faculty selected by the student and the departmental advisor and including at least one member from outside the physics department. The oral examination emphasizes, but is not necessarily restricted to, subject matter related to the field of the thesis. For students not electing to do a thesis, the oral examination covers the general areas of the student's graduate studies.