Physics Master of Science 4+1 Program

Undergraduates may earn an MS degree in physics by adding 1 year to the 4 years of study usually required for the BS degree. The MS degree provides a more complete preparation for graduate school than the BS. The MS is usually preferred by industry and business. Normally, an MS degree requires at least two years of study past the BS. Under this plan, this time is reduced to one year by taking some graduate level courses as an undergraduate.


For the BS in physics, no courses are required above the 4000 level. The MS requires 24 hours in courses at or above the 6000 level plus six additional hours of either courses or research (or a thesis – not usually recommended).

The Plan

In the 4 + 1 program, the student will normally take a total of twelve hours of graduate courses as a junior or senior (e.g. four 6000+ level courses), and nine more hours each semester in the fifth year (e.g. two 6000+ level courses and one research course). This provides a total of thirty hours (twenty-four hours of courses and six hours of research), which is our standard requirement for the MS in physics without a thesis.

Courses available:
6010 Theoretical Physics I
6020 Theoretical Physics II
6070 Astrophysics
6080 Surface Science
6150 Intro Neutron Science
6170 Computational Physics
6210 Molecular Biophysics
6230 Quantum Information
6600 Nanoscience & Technology
6700 Electronic Prop of Materials
7060 Classical Mechanics
7100 Statistical Mechanics
7130 Solid State Physics
7160 Atomic & Molecular Physics
7170 Quantum Mechanics I
7180 Quantum Mechanics II
7230 Electrodynamics I
7240 Electrodynamics II

Courses in Nuclear & Particle Physics, Cosmology, and Relativity are also offered.

There are at least twenty-five course hours available each year of 6000+ level courses (accounting for courses not taught every year). With permission of the graduate advisor, 6000+ courses in other departments (Chemistry, Computational Science, Math, Engineering, …) may also be taken for credit. It is recommended that students who are interested begin this 4 + 1 program by their junior year. Please note that some of the courses listed above are co-taught with similar undergraduate courses and have
somewhat different requirements. The student is asked to sign up for the desired course. While it may be possible to complete the requirements for the 4 + 1 program by starting in the senior year, the scheduling of course would be tight. In addition, taking more than nine hours per semester in the fifth year is permitted, but not recommended.


Admission to the graduate program normally requires a GPA of 3.0 or higher overall and in physics at the time of admission (normally at the beginning of the junior year). Application may be made using the standard form for graduate admission available through the SSE website ( and payment of the $45 application fee. Only one letter of recommendation is required, and the GRE is not required for this 4+1 program. Application for the PhD program is separate from the 4+1 program.