Physics

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are required for admission. [The requirement to submit GRE scores is temporarily suspended for Fall 2021.]

A bachelor's degree in physics or an allied field is required for admission to the M.S., and Ph.D. programs. Students with a 2.50 or higher junior/senior grade-point average (on a 4.00 scale) in physics and mathematics will be considered, and the best-qualified applicants will be accepted up to the number of spaces that are available for new students. Exceptions to the minimum 2.50 GPA may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests. Exceptions may also be made for applicants for doctoral programs who have completed master's degrees at other institutions.

Admission and study programs for the M.Ed. degree are handled on an individual basis.

Degree Requirements

Master of Education (M.Ed.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies.

At least 18 credits in physics are required, of which up to 6 credits may be for research. Six additional nonresearch science credits (which may be in physics) and a 6-credit minor in a field of professional education also must be included. A thesis or term paper must be submitted and accepted by the department.

Master of Science (M.S.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

Required Courses
PHYS 530Theoretical Mechanics3
PHYS 557Electrodynamics3
PHYS 559Graduate Laboratory2
PHYS 561Quantum Mechanics I3-4
or PHYS 410 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics I
Total Credits11-12

There are two options.

  • Thesis option: The thesis must be based on at least 6 credits of PHYS 600 and must conform to Graduate School regulations.
  • Nonthesis option: An additional 6 credits of 500-level physics courses beyond the required ones must be taken, and a short paper must be submitted to, and accepted by, the department.

There is no degree examination for either option.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

Required Courses
PHYS 517Statistical Mechanics3
PHYS 525Methods of Theoretical Physics I3
PHYS 530Theoretical Mechanics3
PHYS 557Electrodynamics3
PHYS 559Graduate Laboratory2
PHYS 561Quantum Mechanics I3
PHYS 562Quantum Mechanics II3
First-Year Seminar Series
Total Credits20

Courses required beyond these depend on the Ph.D. option. Students take at least four additional 3-credit, 500-level physics courses.

A qualifying examination is given at the end of the first year, a comprehensive examination approximately two years after the qualifying examination, and a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) takes place after the completion of the dissertation. There is no departmental foreign language requirement, although a reading knowledge of one foreign language may be needed in some areas of research.

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Tuition & Funding section of The Graduate School’s website. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set by The Graduate School.

The following awards typically have been available to graduate students in this program:

Homer F. Braddock Graduate Fellowships

Available to exceptional Ph.D. candidates in several departments of the Eberly College of Science. They carry stipends of $3,500 to $7,500 per year for each of the first three years.

Wheeler P. Davey Memorial Fellowships

Carry stipend of variable amount and are available to a limited number of qualified graduate students in the Eberly College of Science.

David C. Duncan Graduate Fellowships

Available to first- and second-year graduate students in physics and carry a stipend of approximately $2,000 per year for each of the first two years.

Frymoyer Scholarship

W. Donald Miller Graduate Fellowship

David H. Rank Memorial Physics Award

The Nellie and Oscar L. Roberts Fellowships

Available to graduate students majoring in the physical sciences and in biochemistry and molecular biology. Each award is for $4,000 per year for one or two years.

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Physics (PHYS) Course List

Learning Outcomes

Master of Education (M.Ed.)

  1. Graduates shall demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding in several areas of physics core knowledge, and advanced knowledge of education theory and/or practice.
  2. Graduates shall demonstrate, at a level appropriate to a departmental colloquium, (i) knowledge of several outstanding problems or questions in diverse sub-fields of physics, (ii) the experimental, observational, or theoretical origins of these problems, and (iii) the principal efforts proposed or underway to address them.
  3. Graduates shall demonstrate the ability to communicate professionally, in written and oral form, physics and education research work and conclusions to expert and non-expert audiences.
  4. Graduates shall demonstrate (i) knowledge and understanding of professional standards of ethics and ethical conduct, (ii) the ability to analyze situations to identify the standards that should apply and (iii) describe how they may be appropriately acted upon.
  5. Graduates shall have a specialty area within the broad domain of physics, within which they shall demonstrate (i) advanced knowledge and understanding of the primary literature, (ii) the ability to analyze and judge new contributions to the primary literature, (iii) the ability to apply disciplinary knowledge and methodologies to understand and explore complex problems within the specialty area.

Master of Science (M.S.)

  1. Graduates shall demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding in physics core knowledge (statistical mechanics, theoretical mechanics, classical electrodynamics, and quantum physics) and experimental, observational, and theoretical methodologies, that underpin the practice of modern physics.
  2. Graduates shall demonstrate, at a level appropriate to a departmental colloquium, (i) knowledge of several outstanding problems or questions in diverse sub-fields of physics, (ii) the experimental, observational, or theoretical origins of these problems, and (iii) the principal efforts proposed or underway to address them.
  3. Graduates shall demonstrate the ability to communicate professionally, in written and oral form, research work and conclusions to physics sub-field expert and non-expert audiences.
  4. Graduates shall demonstrate (i) knowledge and understanding of professional standards of ethics and ethical conduct, (ii) the ability to analyze situations to identify the standards that should apply and (iii) describe how they may be appropriately acted upon.
  5. Graduates shall have a specialty area within the broad domain of physics, within which they shall demonstrate (i) advanced knowledge and understanding of the primary literature, (ii) the ability to analyze and judge new contributions to the primary literature, (iii) the ability to apply disciplinary knowledge and methodologies to understand and explore complex problems within the specialty area.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

  1. Graduates shall demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding in physics core knowledge (statistical mechanics, theoretical mechanics, classical electrodynamics, and quantum physics) and experimental, observational, and theoretical methodologies, that underpin the practice of modern physics.
  2. Graduates shall demonstrate, at a level appropriate to a departmental colloquium, (i) knowledge of several outstanding problems or questions in diverse sub-fields of physics, (ii) the experimental, observational, or theoretical origins of these problems, and (iii) the principle efforts proposed or underway to address them.
  3. Graduates shall demonstrate the ability to communicate professionally, in written and oral form, research work and conclusions to physics sub-field expert and non-expert audiences.
  4. Graduates shall demonstrate (i) knowledge and understanding of professional standards of ethics and conduct, (ii) the ability to analyze situations to identify the standards that should apply and (iii) describe how they may be appropriately acted upon.
  5. Graduates shall have a specialty area within the broad domain of physics, within which they shall demonstrate (i) advanced knowledge and understanding of the primary literature, (ii) the ability to analyze and judge new contributions to the primary literature, (iii) the ability to pose complex research problem(s) and identify the knowledge and methodologies required to address them, and (iv) the ability to apply that knowledge and those methodologies to create new knowledge and/or develop new experimental techniques that advance (or show the potential to advance) knowledge and understanding within the specialty area.

Contact

Campus University Park
Graduate Program Head Nitin Samarth
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) Richard Wallace Robinett
Program Contact

Julianne R Mortimore
107 Davey Lab
University Park PA 16802
jrm62@psu.edu
(814) 863-0118

Program Website View