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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the average course load and when are courses offered?

Typical quarterly enrollment for MSP students includes one 4-credit class during any given quarter (excluding Summer, which is optional). To satisfy minimum credit requirements for Financial Aid, some students also enroll in 1-credit of Independent Study (Phys 600), for a total of 5 credits per quarter. Each Quarter (except Summer), two courses are offered in the MSP, a core course and an elective. Classes are scheduled in the evening, typically 7:00pm to 9pm). (We are beginning to offer partial online course delivery, with one in-person and one online class meeting per week, so that students will need to come to campus only once per week.) A minimum of 36 credits are required to earn the MSP.

2. How do I enroll in Phys 600 independent study credits?

For 1-credit short courses, see the 1-credit courses info page. Then contact the faculty program director, Professor Jeff Wilkes for approval and instructions, and register with PCE.

3. Is the MSP the same as the daytime PhD program?

The MSP offers courses in the evening to accommodate the schedules of working professionals; whereas the research focused daytime PhD program follows a more traditional weekday schedule. The same UW Physics faculty teach courses in both program options. The MSP has a coursework-only structure (designed around subject areas with a final project), while the daytime PhD program requires a thesis.

4. How much does the MSP cost?

The MSP is a self-sustaining, fee-based program and tuition is charged on a per-credit basis. Tuition for the 2016-17 academic year is $693/credit. Based on these rates, the total tuition (excluding fees) for the program comes to approximately $25,000. Tuition rates may change slightly, and are provided solely for planning purposes for prospective students.

5. I am a State of Washington employee. Am I eligible to use the tuition exemption benefit for the MSP?

Unfortunately, no. Classes in all fee-based programs, including the MSP, are ineligible for the State employee tuition exemption program.

6. Do you have an on-line or distance-learning program? Is it possible to complete the program entirely online?

While there are distance technology components in some of our courses, students must reside in the area and be available for examinations or class sessions on campus.

7. What is the difference between Matriculated MSP student status and a Graduate Non-Matriculated student?

A matriculated student has received full admission to the graduate program and is earning credits towards a graduate degree. Continuous enrollment during the academic year (autumn, winter and spring quarters) must be maintained to ensure student status.

A Graduate Non-matriculated (GNM) student is not presently seeking a degree but may apply a maximum of 12 graduate level credits towards degree requirements should he or she be accepted into a graduate program later. It is important to note that acceptance as a GNM student does not imply admission to a graduate degree program. GNM status is not available to persons holding an F-1, F2 or Visitors visas, and we cannot issue applications for F-1 student visas.

GNM students are not required to maintain continuous registration, but lose their GNM status and must re-apply after an absence of four consecutive quarters.

The GNM approach is most commonly used by students who want to take individual courses, or try graduate work before committing to a degree program, or those who have undergraduate records that do not support admission to regular graduate student status.

Review the UW Graduate Schools website for additional information.

Graduate students are required to maintain graduate status during their program of study. Failure to maintain this status requires re-application to the University of Washington.

8. What if I need to take a quarter off, how do I apply for on-leave status?

Graduate students are required to maintain graduate status during their program of study, by enrolling in classes each quarter (except Summer Quarter). Failure to maintain this status requires re-application to the University of Washington. If you need to skip a quarter, just apply for academic leave to maintain your enrollment status. Students requesting on-leave status may submit an online Request for On-Leave Status via MyGrad Program.

9. What is the best undergraduate major to have if I want to apply to the MSP?

Applicants should have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in physics or a closely related science discipline, such as astronomy or chemistry, but many of our students have engineering degrees or degrees in math or computer engineering. Successful applicants have had several intermediate-level courses in physics (or equivalent engineering courses), beyond the freshman introductory course level.

10. When is the application deadline?

Applications are accepted for Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer quarter.

MSP applications deadlines are September 1st (Aut), November 1st (Win), February 1st (Spr) and May 15th (Sum).

Deadlines for GNM Status application submission are September 15th (Aut), December 1st (Win), March 1st (Spr) and May 15th (Sum).

11. Is it better to apply early?

Review of applications begins after the deadline. Your application will not be officially reviewed before that time, but applying early is encouraged in order to ensure that all of your application materials have been received by the deadline.

12. Is the GRE required?

No. The GRE is not required to apply to the MSP.

13. I am an international applicant. Do I have to submit TOEFL scores?

Our MS program is generally not suitable for international students, since it is a part-time program for working people, and does not support student visa applications.
Applicants must have a valid US residency visa granted for other reasons (green card, employment visa, refugee status, etc).
A satisfactory command of the English language is required for admission to the University of Washington Graduate School. Applicants who are not citizens of the United States on the date of admission must meet one of the English language ability tests and conditions as outlined in Graduate School Memorandum No. 8.
See also: FAQ 17 below.

14. My undergraduate GPA is below a 3.0. Can I still apply to your program?

If your undergraduate grades are below our 3.0 GPA admission criterion, but you feel you are prepared to take our core courses, you can apply as a graduate non-matriculated (GNM) student, as a mutual tryout. If your grades in our courses are above 3.0, you can apply for admission to the degree program. Up to 12 GNM credits can be transferred towards the Master's degree. Please see Professional Master's Program FAQ #7 for additional information. If you are concerned about your preparation and do not feel ready to start graduate study, you could consider taking advanced undergraduate physics courses at the Physics Undergraduate website.

15. Do you offer information sessions for prospective applicants?

Yes. We offer information sessions throughout the year. Refer to the PCE weblink for details of upcoming information sessions.

16. How can I get more information?

We encourage you to learn more about the Masters in Physics program. For additional information please contact us at or call the Graduate Advising Office at 206-543-2488. You may also join our mailing list to receive updates on information sessions, deadlines, and other program activities.

17. I have a BS degree from a 3-year program in a foreign university. Am I qualified to apply to the UW Professional MS program?

No. To join our MS program, UW requires an MS degree for students with 3-year BS degrees. Only BS degrees from undergraduate programs similar to those of US 4-year colleges and universities are acceptable. Our MS program is generally not suitable for international students, since it is a part-time program for working people, and does not support student visa applications.

18. How long does it take to complete the MS degree program? Is it possible to finish in one year?

It is not possible to complete the program in one year. Some students finish in 2 years, most students take 3 academic years.

19. I'm a GNM student. Must I register every quarter in order to maintain GNM status?

If students do not register the first quarter they are granted GNM status, they will forfeit the status. After the initial quarter they have registered, students will not lose their GNM status unless they miss four consecutive quarters of registration, or register in any other status.
For more info about GNM rules and regulations, see