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M.A. in Physics

Program Overview

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.


  • Astrophysics and Cosmology: Students will learn the physical principles behind the workings and evolution of the universe and structures located within, including stars, black holes, galaxies, and cosmological large-scale structure.  The program combines observational and theoretical studies with the option of a thesis project in observational or theoretical astrophysics.  Observational work can be completed with Ohio University’s share of the MDM observatory and/or other national and international observatories.
  • Biophysics: Students will learn the physics, mathematics and life science principles involved in this strong interdisciplinary field of research, where concepts of physics, mathematics, and biology are combined to study how living things work. Ohio University’s Quantitative Biology Institute, the interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program and the Bioengineering Program facilitate this advanced training. Students will often work in collaboration with biologists, bioengineers and mathematicians on campus or off campus. Furthermore, they have access to and learn how to utilize emerging computing technologies.
  • Condensed Matter and Surface Science Physics: Students will learn the basic principles that govern the physics of condensed matter physics, including phenomena at atomic, nano-, meso- and macroscopic scales for crystalline solids and amorphous materials. The program combines experimental and theoretical studies in all these areas. Experimental work can be completed within the Athens campus with state-of-the-art facilities and/or in collaboration with national facilities. Research on theoretical physics range from analytic model development to computational physics.
  • Nuclear and Particle Physics: Students will learn the basic principles that govern sub-atomic particles, from the quark-and-gluon substructure of nucleons to how complex nuclei are composed. The program includes both theoretical and experimental components as well as the application of nuclear physics to astrophysics. Experimental work is performed in the on-campus Edwards Accelerator Laboratory, or at external facilities including the Thomas Jefferson and Brookhaven National Laboratories. Theoretical research includes computational investigations as well as analytic models.

Career Opportunities 

Students achieving the M.A. in Physics can go on and pursue further graduate studies in Physics & Astronomy or in other fields. They can also obtain positions as professional scientists.

Graduation Requirements

  1. Minimum of 30 semester hours.
  2. Completion of a program filed with the Departmental Graduate Committee.
  3. Submission of a scholarly paper based on these studies that must be approved by at least two readers.

Thesis requirement: No

Qualifying exam: No

Comprehensive exam: No

Expected time to degree if studying full-time:  2 years

Culminating Experience

  • Submission of scholarly paper.

Admission Requirements 

Students entering this program are normally expected to have successfully concluded undergraduate work in mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics. They should also possess a working knowledge of mathematics including calculus, ordinary differential equations, Fourier series, vector analysis, and basic elements of partial differential equations. The Verbal and Quantitative GRE General Tests are optional. The Physics GRE Subject Test is optional. Deficiencies of undergraduate preparation should not deter a prospective student with an otherwise good record, as these may be made up during the first year of graduate study.

There are no specific deadlines, but most applications for financial aid are received by January 15 and most offers are made by April 15. Most students enter the physics program in the fall, although some add the preceding summer session. Entry during the academic year is possible although not generally encouraged. For all details concerning graduate programs, contact the Chair of the Graduate Admissions Committee (

Program Mission

The graduate program mission is to: (a) give our students a thorough grounding in the theoretical and experimental knowledge required to be a professional physicist; (b) partner students with faculty to perform cutting-edge research on joint projects with direct supervision and intense feedback; and (c) initiate them into the worldwide scholarly community and improve their oral and written communication skills through writing of research papers, presentation of results at conferences and seminars, and production of theses and dissertations. 

Program Learning Objectives

  • Develop analytical skills and the ability to solve problems.
  • Achieve a good understanding of physical laws and principles.
  • Gain experience with measurement techniques and equipment.
  • Develop the ability to assess uncertainties and assumptions.
  • Demonstrate the ability to present the results of investigations orally (with thesis) and in writing (without thesis).
  • Acquire facility in the use of mathematics to solve problems and test hypotheses.