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College of Arts & Sciences

M.S. in Physics and Astronomy


Program Overview

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers the Master of Science degree, which is achieved through a combination of research and coursework. The M.S. degree can be earned by submission of a research thesis with an oral examination and at least 14 credit hours of graduate level lecture or laboratory courses in physics and astronomy. It can also be obtained under a non-thesis option that requires satisfactory completion of a faculty-approved project (of one to four credits), and the Department's set of six core courses.

The research activities of the Department are broad. They currently include astrophysics, biophysics, condensed matter and surface science, nanoscience, nuclear physics, and particle physics. Both experimental and theoretical studies are in progress in these areas. Interdisciplinary and inter-departmental programs of study also are possible.

Opportunities: Students achieving the M.S. in Physics and Astronomy can go on and pursue further graduate study in physics and astronomy, or in other fields. Past students who completed OHIO's M.S. degree have pursued a wide range of careers in industry, government employment, and teaching. Many of them are hired into positions that require high-level problem-solving skills, in technical support positions at federal agencies such as NASA, the U.S. Patent Office, and the Department of Energy, as well as at private companies. The M.S. is the minimal professional qualification for most physicist/astrophysicist positions in the U.S.A.

Requirements for the M.S. Degree

The Master of Science degree is achieved through a combination of research and course-work. There are two possible tracks: the M.S. by thesis, and a non-thesis option. First- and second-year graduate students consult with assigned advisors to determine a program of study which will allow them to fulfill their degree requirements. The M.A. is an option reserved for special cases and usually involves substantial work in other fields. Candidates must follow an approved program filed with the Departmental Graduate Committee and submit a scholarly paper based on these studies for approval by at least two readers. A candidate is required to earn at least 30 graduate credits in physics, astronomy, and approved electives.

M.S. by Thesis

A student wishing to complete an M.S. by thesis must take at least 14 credits of graduate laboratory or lecture courses in Physics and Astronomy.

He or she must also submit a research thesis to a committee of three faculty members and pass an oral examination on this research. Typically, the submission of the thesis and subsequent examination occur at the end of the student's second year at Ohio University. The final copy of the thesis must be in the hands of the committee members at least two weeks prior to the oral examination date. Following the examination, the committee has a maximum of three days to provide comments and corrections to the students.

The examination consists of a presentation by the student describing the research, followed by questions from the thesis committee. The questions are designed to test the student's understanding of the research he or she has performed. The committee may also probe the student's knowledge of the background to the work he or she carried out for the M.S.

Requirements for the M.S. by thesis are completed when the student has taken sufficient lecture/laboratory course credits, passed this oral exam, and submitted the approved thesis document to the College of Arts & Sciences.

M.S. Non-Thesis Option

The M.S. can be earned under a non-thesis option. This requires satisfactory completion of a faculty-approved research project (of one to four credits), and the Department's set of six core courses (PHYS 5021, 5041, 6001, 6011, 6021, and 6031, see below). Typically an M.S. student would take all the core courses in their first year, and would do so in the following order:


  • PHYS 5021 Quantum Mechanics 1
  • PHYS 5041 Mathematical Methods
  • PHYS 6001 Mechanics


  • PHYS 6011 Statistical Mechanics
  • PHYS 6021 Quantum Mechanics 2
  • PHYS 6031 Electrodynamics

General Requirements

An M.S. degree requires the completion, with a GPA of 3.0 or better, of a minimum of 30 graduate-level credits. Courses or Labs offered by other departments may be used to fulfill a limited number of these requirements with the approval of the student's advisor and the Graduate Chair. Participation in the weekly colloquium, PHYS 8001, is required of all graduate students. Participation in one of the area-specific seminar series is encouraged.

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