Graduate Programs

The physics department offers both a Master of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy at the graduate level.

Master of Science

Available with either a thesis or non-thesis option. Each option has the same set of core courses, but differ slightly in some requirements. It usually takes four semesters for a student to obtain this degree. M.S. for teachers is also offered.

Admission into Master of Science without thesis program does not guarantee automatic admission into PhD program. If, upon successful completion of the MS program, such students decide to continue, their application to PhD program will be considered with general pool of the PhD applicants at the time of the application.

 

Doctor of Philosophy

Students prepare for research by taking courses appropriate for a Ph.D. degree, and most obtain a master's degree as a first step. Each student has two chances to pass the Qualifying Examination. The ultimate goal is to successfully conduct an original research project with the help of a faculty adviser. This research is then comprehensively written up as a thesis and defended in a final oral examination.

Degree requirements

Requires 30 hours of graduate credit:

  • at least 18 hours in lecture courses at the 4000, 5000 or 6000-level. The following courses are required: Physics 6101 Classical Mechanics, Physics 6111 Electrodynamics I, Physics 6201 Quantum Mechanics I
  • at least six hours in Physics 6099 Graduate Research, during which the student will perform scientific research culminating in a written masters thesis that will be defended in an oral thesis defense.
  • a maximum of 9 hours may be transferred from another university as long as these credits have not been used for another degree.

A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained for all graduate coursework.

Requires 30 hours of graduate credit:

  • at least 24 hours in lecture courses at the 4000, 5000 or 6000-level. The following courses are required: Physics 6101 Classical Mechanics, Physics 6111 Electrodynamics I, Physics 6201 Quantum Mechanics I
  • no credit in research can be applied towards the plan of study.
  • a maximum of 9 hours may be transferred from another university as long as these credits have not been used for another degree.

A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained for all graduate coursework. No comprehensive exam is required for completion of this degree.

Requires 30 hours of graduate credit in science and math:

  • at least 24 hours in lecture courses at the 4000, 5000 or 6000-level. A minimum of three hours must come from 6000 level courses.
  • no credit in research can be applied towards the plan of study.
  • a maximum of 9 hours may be transferred from another university as long as these credits have not been used for another degree.

A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained for all graduate coursework

This degree will be planned for each admitted student by an advisory committee and approved by the Vice Provost of Graduate Studies.
This program is approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  Students intending to teach in other states are responsible for investigating the reciprocity agreement of that state agency.

Requires a minimum of 72 credit hours beyond the bachelor's degree.
At least 36 hours in lecture courses at the 4000, 5000 or 6000-level. The following courses are required:

  • Physics 6101 Classical Mechanics
  • Physics 6111 Electrodynamics I
  • Physics 6201 Quantum Mechanics I
  • Physics 6301 Quantum Mechanics II
  • Physics 6211 Electrodynamics II
  • Physics 6311 Statistical Mechanics
  • Two other 5000-level math or physics lecture courses.

At least 24 hours in Physics 6099 Graduate Research during which the student will perform supervised scientific research, culminating in a written Ph.D. thesis that will be defended in an oral thesis defense.

A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained for all graduate coursework. The student must pass a Ph.D. qualifying exam after completing the core course requirements for the MS degree (Physics 6101, 6111, 6201). Upon completion of all course work except research, the student must pass the Ph.D. comprehensive exam, which is designed to ensure the student’s ability to perform independent research.

 

Students who have a Masters degree get a 30 hour credit and thus have to complete 42 credit hours, 12 of which have to be in lecture courses at the 4000, 5000 or 6000-level. At least 24 hours in Physics 6099 Graduate Research are required.

 

Application process

Students interested in joining Physics Department Graduate Program, should contact Admissions for admission requirements, open an account and apply at https://connect.mst.edu/apply/. Additional information can be found here. There is no specific deadline for students applying for Master of Science without thesis program, qualified applicants are accepted until an annual cap (for Spring and Fall semesters combined) has been reached. For all other applicants, the deadline is January 31 to be considered for the Fall semester.

Qualification Examination

The Qualifying Exam should be taken early in the student’s graduate studies as soon as the core physics courses for the MS degree have been taken.   This exam determines whether or not a student has achieved a satisfactory degree of mastery of basic physics concepts and is qualified to pursue more advanced study and research in the PhD program.   Students who fail this exam on their second attempt will be denied matriculation in the PhD program.  The exam covers all of the undergraduate physics curriculum, plus the graduate curriculum at the level of the core MS courses. Exam questions are regularly drawn from the following subject areas at the level indicated:

Quantum mechanics (first graduate course, typical texts: Messiah; Sakurai; Cohen- Tannoudji , Diu , Lal oë )

Classical mechanics (first graduate course, text: Goldstein, 2nd or  3rd editions)

Electrodynamics (first graduate course, text: Jackson)

Statistical and thermal physics (advanced undergraduate course, text: Reif )

Relativity, nuclear, and particle physics (intermediate undergraduate Modern Physics course)

Exams from previous years: 2019, 2018 2017, 20162015, 2014

Research opportunities

The department's research emphasis areas include both fundamental and applied studies in three areas of physics:

  • Astrophysics and cosmology
  • Atomic, molecular and optical physics
  • Condensed matter, solid state and materials physics

Experimental and theoretical research opportunities are available for study in each of these areas.

Physics graduate students are able to work with faculty on a wide range of problems, including:

  • Unveiling dark energy from the galaxy clustering in HETDEX
  • Evolution of emission-line galaxies in the large-scale structure of the Universe
  • Gravitational-wave detection and LIGO science
  • Astrophysics of black holes and other compact objects
  • Characterization of magnetic materials
  • Predicting the properties of quantum and classical phase transitions
  • Establishing the structure and properties of atmospheric aerosols
  • Investigating electron transport in polymers
  • Determining electron-atom scattering events
  • Characterizing the particulate in rocket engine exhaust
  • Exploring the structural properties of thin magnetic films
  • Computing the electronic structure of new materials
  • Measuring and imaging ion-atom collisions
  • Investigating water and sulfuric acids cluster interactions
  • Analyzing and characterizing nanostructures on surfaces
  • Ascertaining the properties of charged particles and atoms
  • Studying the nucleation of vapors into droplets
  • Growing and characterizing exotic materials
  • Studying wave propagation in complex media
  • Exploring quantum electrodynamics’ descriptions of few-electron atoms and ions