Department of Physics

Programs of Study


M.S. Program

Plan I

The student must successfully complete at least 30 semester hours of coursework, including at least four core courses selected from PH 610-611, 650-651, and 671-672 and 6 semester hours of Thesis Research (PH 699). The student must also write and complete a successful oral defense of a thesis under the direction of a graduate faculty member. Additional coursework should be selected with the advice of the student's graduate study committee to meet the particular needs of the student.

An interdisciplinary track for an M.S. degree Plan I is also offered. Students admitted to this track will typically hold a bachelor's degree in a science area other than physics, such as astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, or psychology, or an engineering degree, including optics and materials science. Thesis research will be in an interdisciplinary area, including astrophysics, astrobiology, biophysics, chemical physics, geophysics, mathematical physics, neurophysics, optics, materials science, or engineering physics. Students awarded an M.S. degree within this track will be prepared for an Assistant Research Physicist position, including qualification for co-authorship, and would typically work under the direction of a doctoral-level person. The acquired skill would be highly marketable, as individuals trained in multidisciplinary areas for basic and applied research are increasingly in demand in industry, government laboratories, and other research institutions.

Acceptance into this interdisciplinary track will be through a Physics Graduate Faculty member, who will be prepared to supervise the student's thesis research and develop a plan of study. This plan of study will include a core of courses (Classical Mechanics, PH 561-562; Electromagnetic Theory, PH 545-546; and Quantum Mechanics, PH 550-551), other physics graduate-level courses, and a minimum of 12 hours of graduate-level courses offered by other departments. The Department of Physics will establish a standing Physics Interdisciplinary Track Committee to review and concur in each student's plan of study. As is current practice, thesis oversight will be by the student's M.S. Graduate Study Committee.

Plan II

With approval of the physics graduate program director, a nonthesis option (Plan II) is available for all tracks in the Masters program. In this case, the graduate study committee requires an additional 6 semester hours of coursework instead of a thesis and gives the student an M.S.-degree exit examination.


Ph.D. Program

All students are required to pass a written qualifying examination covering the areas of classical mechanics, electromagnetic theory, and quantum physics. This examination is to be taken within two terms of completing six core courses, PH 710-711, 750 -751, and 771-772. Under no circumstances may the examination be taken more than twice.

Following satisfactory completion of the qualifying examination and consultation with individual faculty members, the student selects a specific area for dissertation research under the supervision of an appropriate graduate faculty member. The student's Graduate Study Committee, chaired by the major advisor, will outline a program of study including at least four graduate courses and appropriate tools of research, such as computer and/or foreign language competency. After the student completes these specialization courses and tools of research, the Graduate Study Committee will administer an oral examination to test the student's knowledge in the area of research. The student must pass this oral examination in no more than two attempts. Then, with direction from the major advisor, the student should focus on formulating and writing a formal research proposal that must be presented and defended before the Graduate Study Committee; this should lead to a recommendation from the committee for admission to candidacy. Dissertation research culminates in the successful oral defense of the dissertation.

Physics Track

For students entering with a B.S. degree, the program requires a total of 90 credit hours distributed as follows:

  • Twenty semester hours of core course work in classical physics, quantum physics, statistical physics, and physics student seminars
  • Nine semester hours of elective courses in physics
  • Directed and Dissertation Research (at least 2 semesters of dissertation research are required to graduate)

For information about transferring credits from a Masters of Science program, please contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Applied Physics Track

For students entering with a B.S. degree, the program requires a total of 90 credit hours distributed as follows:

  • Fourteen semester hours of existing core course work in classical physics, quantum physics, statistical physics, and physics student seminars
  • Twelve semester hours of elective courses in applied physics
  • Three semester hours of applied physics internship
  • Directed and Dissertation Research (at least 2 semesters of dissertation research are required to graduate)

For information about transferring credits from a Masters of Science program, please contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Core Graduate Physics Courses

PH 710-711 Advanced Classical Mechanics I, II 6 credit hours
PH 715-716 Advanced Statistical Mechanics I, II 6 credit hours
PH750-751 Classical Electrodynamics I, II 6 credit hours
PH 771-772 Quantum Mechanics I, II 6 credit hours
PH 793-794 Scientific Communications I, II 2 credit hours


Elective Courses for the Applied Physics Track

PHY 792 Cell Interactions with Biomaterials 3 credit hours
PH 753-754 Advanced Solid State Physics 6 credit hours
MSE 743-744 Materials Characterization I and II 6 credit hours
PH 732-733 Growth and Characterization of Thin Films I, II 6 credit hours
BME 590 Tissue Engineering 3 credit hours
PH 587 Nanoscale Science and Applications 3 credit hours
PH 575-576 Introduction to Biophysics I, II 6 credit hours
PH 581-582 Laser Physics I, II 6 credit hours
PH 585 Laser Spectroscopy 3 credit hours
PH 525-526 Applications of Contemporary Optics I, II 6 credit hours


Course Descriptions

Descriptions of all graduate courses offered in the Department of Physics can be found the on-line Physics Graduate Catalog as well as links to graduate courses offered in other graduate programs at UAB.