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Master's Program

Physics student using equipment to conduct an experimentA master's degree in Physics can open the door to several career opportunities, including software development, banking, and teaching at undergraduate institutions or high school. Of course, many students continue towards their Ph.D. in Physics at UAB, while others successfully transition to related fields. Our master's students have the opportunity to pursue the same research specialties as our Ph.D. students.

Plan I vs. Plan II

You have two options for completing an M.S. in Physics — Plan I and Plan II. The most fundamental difference between the two programs is that Plan I requires a thesis while Plan II replaces the thesis with additional coursework. Plan II is recommended only for students planning to continue toward a more advanced degree, whether Ph.D. or M.D. You should consider Plan I if:

  • you are uncertain if you want to pursue a Ph.D. but would like to broaden your education
  • you desire advanced study before employment in the industry

Plan I Interdisciplinary Track

In addition to the general Physics track, Plan I students can choose to follow an interdisciplinary track. 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, psychology, or engineering. Thesis research will be in an interdisciplinary area, including biophysics, chemical physics, geophysics, mathematical physics, neurophysics, optics, materials science, or engineering physics. Students awarded an M.S. degree within this interdisciplinary track will be prepared for a 21st-century professional career in a STEM or related field. The skills acquired by following the Plan I Interdisciplinary Track are highly marketable, as individuals trained in multidisciplinary areas for basic, computational, and applied research are increasingly in demand in industry, government laboratories, and other research institutions.

Acceptance into this interdisciplinary track is decided by a physics graduate faculty member, who will be prepared to supervise your thesis research and develop a plan of study. The Department of Physics will establish a Physics Interdisciplinary Track Committee to review and concur your plan of study. As is current practice, thesis oversight will the responsibility of your M.S. Graduate Study Committee.

Plan II

With the approval of the physics graduate program director, a non-thesis option (Plan II) is available for all tracks in the Master's program. In this case, the graduate study committee requires the same total credit hours as for Plan I, but does not require 6 semester hours of Thesis Research (PH699).  The committee gives students an exit examination upon successful completion of the coursework.

Course Catalog

A complete list of program requirements and courses are available in the UAB Graduate Catalog.


Any questions about our graduate programs can be directed to the graduate program director Dr. Shane Aaron Catledge.

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