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Degree Requirements

Students must complete 36 credits of work at the 400-level or above. Of the 36 credits, at least 18 credits must be at the 500-level or above and at least 18 credits must be numerically graded (not credit/no-credit).

The program includes a sequence of four "core" courses. They provide essential background for more advanced study. Students are required to take at least three of the core courses, but are encouraged to enroll in all four. Three core courses are offered every year. Special topics and applications are introduced from the outset, so the courses tend to vary in detailed content from year to year.

Core Courses:
Phys 543 - Electromagnetic Theory (Autumn)
Phys 441 - Quantum Physics (Winter)
Phys 544 - Applications of Electromagnetic Theory (alternate Spring terms)
Phys 541 - Applications of Quantum Physics (alternate Spring terms)

In addition to taking at least three core courses, a supervised independent study project (Phys 600) is required. Credits from appropriate courses in other departments may be applied for credit toward the degree, if pre-approved by the MS Faculty Coordinator.

Students must maintain satisfactory performance and progress toward completion of their graduate degree. A minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA is required for a graduate degree and for every quarter of course work. Students must complete all degree requirements within six years.

For more detailed information on MS requirements see UW Graduate School Master's Degree Requirements.

Final Independent Study Project

Each student must also complete a final independent study project under the supervision of a Physics (or adjunct) faculty member. The final project report serves in place of a formal master's thesis.

Students complete their independent study project by enrolling in Phys 600 for typically 3 to 9 hours each week and working with one of the research groups in the Physics Department. They may also work in other departments on campus, or at their place of employment, subject to pre-approval by the MS Faculty Coordinator.

Begin looking for a suitable mentor as soon as you start taking classes. Browse research group websites on the Physics Department web page to identify faculty whose work is of interest to you, and contact the faculty member to discuss working with his/her group. Good MS projects usually involve applying your skills and training to help researchers complete a well-defined task within their project. If you choose a topic related to your workplace activities or using job-related facilities, any faculty member may be asked to serve as academic mentor, but prior agreement of your supervisors must be obtained. Projects need not be original research, but must not involve proprietary or classified information. Your final report is required to be a public document.
The project should involve experimentation, analysis, or instrumentation related to a problem of current interest. A brief written statement describing the project should be given to the Faculty Program Coordinator before the independent study project commences.

Final Examination and Report

A written report, and a final oral presentation and exam on the research project are required.

There is no required format for the written report, which typically is formatted as a technical paper. The final oral exam committee must consist of two faculty members, of whom at least one is a member of the Graduate Faculty. Students will be helped with preparation and arrangements by their faculty supervisor.

Students expecting to complete their work and graduate at the end of a quarter should schedule the final exam, after agreement with their faculty supervisor, for a date no later than one day before the last day of final exam week at the end of the term.

Master's Degree Request

To receive a Master's degree, you must complete a Master's Degree Request, and inform the graduate advisor of the final exam date and the MS committee composition at least one month before the planned final exam date. Students may reserve a room for their presentation and exam by contacting the Physics Department main office. Students may apply for the MSĀ ONLY AFTER all required courses and credits have been recorded, other than courses taken the same quarter. Any Incomplete or X grades must be cleared before applying.

Examples of Topics for Projects Completed Previously:
  • Ultrasound Reflections
  • Development of a Pre-optics Curriculum for Physical Science Students
  • Fabrication and Characterization of Superconducting Tunnel Junctions
  • Impurity Effects on Charge Collection in Liquid Argon
  • Investigating Student Understanding of Newton's Second Law Among Pre College Teachers and High School Students
  • Laser Diode Stabilization Using External Optical Feedback
  • Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) Correlations in Annihilation Photon Experiments
  • Phased Array Holography
  • Spectral Properties of Semiconductor Injection Lasers
  • Chirp Sonar System Development and Testing
For examples of MS student projects, please see Prof. Larry Sorensen's PHYS 600 web page.