Tracks for the MA Program

An MA degree requires a minimum of 30 credits in Physics graduate courses. In most cases this program can be completed in three of four semesters, but in exceptional cases of very well prepared students, it is possible to complete this program in two semesters and one Summer.

Below we give four examples of approved course sequences for an MA degree. There is a great deal of flexibility, and depending on your interest, courses can be substituted by other physics graduate courses. The tracks below are designed for full time students with 12+ credits the first 2 semesters and 9 credits in the third semester, with optional 4th semester as needed. All programs of study require approval of the Graduate program director.

Below are two tracks that prepare for admission to a PhD program. The first option is the default option which focuses more on research while the second option aims at well prepared students interested in theory. Doing more research has the advange that your advisor will be able to write a stronger letter of recommendation.


Default Program for preparation for admissions to a PhD program with Master Thesis Research -- Track I

Semester 1:
PHY 510 Quantum Mechanics I (3 credits)
PHY 585 Special Studies in Quantum Mechanics (1-3 credits)
PHY 503 Methods of Mathematical Physics (3 credits)
PHY 599 or PHY 598 Graduate Seminar (1 credit)
PHY xxx Elective (3 credits)

Semester 2:
PHY 504 Computational Methods in Physics and Astrophysics I (3 credits)
PHY 505 Electrodynamics (3 credits)
PHY 585 Special Studies in Electrodynamics (1-3 credits)
PHY 580 Special Research Project (3 credits)

Semester 3:
PHY 595 Master Thesis Research (9 credits)

Semester 4: (if needed)
PHY 595 Master Thesis Research (1 credit)


Advanced Program for preparation for admissions to a PhD program with focus on theoretical physics -- without Master Thesis -- requires passing the comprehensive exam -- Track II

Semester 1:
PHY 501 Classical Mechanics (3 credits)
PHY 510 Quantum Mechanics I (3 credits)
PHY 599 or PHY 598 Graduate Seminar (1 credit)
PHY xxx Electives (5-6 credits)

Semester 2:
PHY 505 Electrodynamics (3 credits)
PHY 511 Quantum Mechanics II (3 credits)
PHY 610 Quantum Field Theory I (3 credits)
PHY xxx Elective (3 credits)

Semester 3:
PHY 540 Statistical Mechanics (3 credits)
PHY 611 Quantum Field Theory II (3 credits)
PHY xxx Elective (3 credits)

Semester 4: (if needed)
PHY 595 Master Thesis Research (1 credit)

Below you find two options that prepare you for employment outside academia.

Program focused on practical skills with Master Thesis Research, a good option if you are not sure if you want to pursue a Ph.D. or opportunities outside of academia -- Track III

Semester 1:
PHY 503 Mathematical Methods (3 credits)
PHY 514 Current Research Instruments (3 credits)
PHY 515 Methods of Experimental Research (3 credits)
PHY xxx Elective (3 credits)

Semester 2:
PHY 504 Computational Methods (3 credits)
PHY 546 Python (1 credit)
PHY 598 PHY 599 Graduate Seminar (1 credit)
PHY 580 Special Research Project (4 credits)
PHY xxx Elective (3 credits)

Semester 3:
PHY 604 Comptational Methods II (3 credits)
PHY 595 Master Thesis Research (6 credits)

Semester 4: (if needed)
PHY 595 Master Thesis Research (1 credit)



This sequence includes an advanced graduate certificate in Data and Computational Science -- requires full time 4th semester -- Track IV

Semester 1:
PHY 503 Mathematical Physics (3 credits)
AMS 561 Data and Computational Science (3 credits)
JNR 501 Communicating Science I (1 credit)
PHY xxx Electives (choose from PHY 501, PHY 510 / PHY 585, PHY 514, PHY 515) (5-6 credits)

Semester 2:
PHY 504 Computational Methods in Physics and Astrophysics I (3 credits)
PHY 546 Python (1 credit)
JNR 503 Communicating Science II (1 credit)
PHY 580 Special Research Project involving computation (4 credits)
PHY xxx Elective (3 credits)

Semester 3:
PHY 604 Computational Methods in Physics and Astrophysics II (3 credits)
CS xxx Elective in Computer Science (3 credits)
PHY 595 Master Thesis Research involving computation (3 credits)

Semester 4:
PHY 595 Master Thesis Research involving computation (6 credits)
PHY xxx Elective (3 credits)


Created 11/17/2009 by Jacobus Verbaarschot. Last Revised 08/17/2018.