MSI Degree Requirements

For the MSI degree students must have achieved

  • Thirty credits (minimum) of graduate courses (500 level or above).
  • A Master's thesis. This thesis must describe a major piece of work in scientific instrumentation and must be in a form acceptable to the Graduate School. It need not be original research in the same sense as a Ph.D. thesis, but it should be the result of an effort consistent with a full year of full-time work. The thesis should present an improvement of the state of the art in some area, the development of a sophisticated and/or automated apparatus, or some other significant laboratory project, and be defended before a committee.
  • A student shall demonstrate proficiency in physics at the level of our present undergraduate courses PHY 335 (Junior Laboratory I), PHY 405 (Advanced Quantum Physics). Students need to have demonstrated knowledge in two of the three areas: Nuclear and Particle Physics (covered in PHY 431), Condensed Matter Physics(PHY 472) and Laser and Atomic Physics (PHY 452). This can be done: 1) by acceptance by the MSI Committee of courses taken by the student as an undergraduate, 2) by specially arranged written examination, or 3) by passing the courses appropriate to a student's background.
  • A minor project for the General Instrumentation track and appropriate courses for the Professional track.
  • A course about research instrumentation (PHY 514)
  • Two semesters each of graduate lab (PHY 515) and graduate seminar (PHY 598, 599)
  • Teaching Assistant in undergraduate laboratory for at least one semester (being a TA in PHY 445 may satisfy the requirement of taking the second semester of graduate lab (PHY 515)).
    Other Components of the Program:
Students shall acquire those technical skills deemed necessary by their thesis supervisors. These must include, but are not limited to machining capability and computer literacy. In addition, there are many courses offered by other departments in instrumentation, materials science, etc., that might be suitable electives. Permission may be granted to reduce the number of thesis credits or to take some of them during the summer in order to allow for these electives.

Those in the professional track will take appropriate electives. Permission may be granted to reduce the number of thesis credits or to take some of them during the summer in order to allow for these electives. Tracks within the MSI program offer an opportunity to take courses in a specific area of interest, for example, Business, Accelerator Physics, or Synchrotron Radiation. Professional track students replace the minor project with 9 credits of business courses.


Sample Program total = 44 credits (specific courses listed are required)

(Semester 1)
PHY 514 Current Research Instruments (3 credits)
PHY 515 Methods of Experimental Research (3 credits)
PHY 599 or PHY 598 Graduate Seminar (1 credit)
Electives, make-up, minor project, or business electives, depending on track choice (6 credits)

(Semester 2)
PHY 515 Methods of Experimental Research (3 credits)
PHY 598 or PHY 599 Graduate Seminar (1 credit)
PHY 580 Minor project (3-6 credits), or business electives (6 credits), depending on track choice
Electives (3-6 credits)

Sample Second Year: Both Semesters PHY 595 Thesis Research (9 credits each semester)