Masters in Physics

Last Updated on December 15, 2022

Get direct information on Masters in Physics colleges and answer the question what can you do with a Physics degree ? right here on College learners today. When looking for a perfect school to match your needs, especially for a Masters degree, Collegelearners is all you need. You can also get specific information on PhD in Physics, Masters in Physics and Bachelors in Physics in specific universities. This gem provides all the basic information you need on Masters in Physics. A Physics degree focuses on the nature and properties of energy and matter, covering subjects such as mechanics, heat, light, radiation, sound, electricity, magnetism, and more, preparing graduates for Physics degrees in science, engineering, healthcare, education, and more. If you’re wondering what to do with a degree in physics, there are plenty of options, and this guide provides information on the various degrees available, as well as insight into the work you can do with a degree in physics.

It is an exciting time to be studying physics in the 21st century: it is an enabling science that expands our knowledge of the universe and underpins new technologies that benefit our society. The School of Physics is well established and is internationally respected for its research excellence, broad-based undergraduate courses, and a challenging and rewarding postgraduate experience.

Our programs in astrophysics, theoretical particle and experimental particle physics explore questions relating to the origin, evolution and fate of our universe, addressing some of the most important and fundamental problems of our age. Research collaborations include the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, the LIGO gravitational wave detector, and the MWA low frequency radio telescope.

The School has strengths in the exploration of matter and light interactions, particularly in advanced materials utilising diamond and silicon, quantum information science, photonics, advanced electron microscopy, nanoscale imaging, nanoelectronics, all the way down to the single atom and photon. Working closely with the Australian Synchrotron, the School hosts the Centre for Coherent X-Ray Science, and the Victorian node of the Centre for Quantum Computer Technology.

Students in the Master of Science (Physics) who have a weighted average mark of 80% or higher in the prerequisite undergraduate major, are eligible for consideration for the Graduate Research Program in Science. This is a five-year course of study comprising the Master of Science and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

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Studying A Masters Degree In Physics

Studying for a Masters in Physics increases your earning potential and career prospects, providing you with a range of valuable skills and specialist knowledge. As well as a sense of community, universities offer a variety of learning methods, from the practical work that takes place in labs, to computing, lectures and group tutorials.

If you choose to study physics at postgraduate level, you’ll get the opportunity to explore many different features of physics as a discipline and gain experiences that will be of benefit for years to come. Studying at this level involves looking at the latest advancements in physics and its related areas. You will be taught to plan research, carry it out and then interpret the results of your work – in way that is understood by people who do not have your depth of knowledge.

Why Study a Postgraduate Qualification in Physics?

Physics has played a vital role in our understanding of the world around us, and continues to do so. From commercial to technological applications, physics has brought a raft of benefits, both economical and social. It has enabled us to comprehend our place in the universe, decode DNA and brought forth theories like quantum mechanics to explain extremely discreet phenomena. This has led many people to think physics is a career choice for geniuses, and it’s true that famous physicists include Marie Curie, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. However, there is no need to feel intimidated by the thought of studying a Masters in Physics, because any dedicated student can make a significant contribution to the discipline. You just need a passion for the subject, a deep understanding of mathematical principles and a desire to keep up with the latest discoveries in the field.

What Qualifications Do You Need?

The standard minimum entry requirement for a UK university is an upper second class honours, or a 2.1, in your bachelors degree – or the equivalent grade in an international qualification. This may vary amongst universities in mainland Europe, so check the website of a university for their individual entry policies. Most universities will only accept candidates who have previously studied physics or a very closely related subject.

In the UK all the teaching elements of a course are delivered in English and you will be expected to hand in work that is also completed in English. Therefore, universities have to be convinced that your written and spoken skills are good enough to cope with the demands of a masters degree. To prove your abilities universities will accept a range of English Language certificates like TOEFL, IELTS, a Certificate of Advanced English or an English Language GSCE at grade B or above.

Study Modules

Although study timetables vary widely from country to country, there are general topics that crop up on most physics masters degrees. The compulsory units will cover mathematical techniques and classic physics, giving students a solid framework from which to proceed. To teach students how to incorporate their use of the laboratory equipment with analysing data and computational tools, there is often a laboratory training module which all students have to take.

The additional options are made up of specialised lectures, seminars and practical sessions; they could include cosmology, relativity, atmospherics, astrophysics, quantum field theory, shock physics and many more.

Most universities also ask students to complete a written dissertation, based on a physics-related topic which interests them. This individual project will be supported by work carried out in the university’s laboratories and with research groups made up of your cohort group.

Student Case Study

The physics departments at most universities are very supportive places, with plenty of enrichment activities to participate in aside from academic work. Sam is studying an MSc Physics course at the University of Birmingham, he says: ”Typically we have between 14 and 18, 50-minute lectures a week. Once a week I have a four-person tutorial which means I can go through recent material in more detail. Tonight I’m spending a couple of hours with the Computer and Video Games Society. Later I’m meeting up with some course mates for a quiz, hosted by the Poynting Physical Society”.

Career Options

Employers often regard a Masters in Physics as a particularly taxing degree to obtain and that can give graduates a competitive edge in the labour market. You have been trained to understand the way systems work, why things happen in a particular manner and the methods used to identify problems. This is a very sought after skills set and can easily be applied to a range of careers, or further study at a PhD level. After taking a Masters in Physics, your specialism could lead you to a role in aeronautics, thermonuclear engineering, clinical science, defence, astrology and many more science-related professions.

MASTER OF SCIENCE IN PHYSICS

Why should I pursue a Master’s in Physics?

Physics is a broad subject that ranges from pondering the origins of the universe to designing better electronic memory devices. The Master’s Program is designed for students who want to obtain an advanced degree in physics. Students who successfully complete our program will have acquired strong analytical skills that are valued in many fields. If they decide they want to continue their education, they will be in a strong position enter a Physics or Astronomy Ph.D. program.

What can I do after I graduate with a Master’s?

We have had 88% of our graduates admitted into PhD programs, whether at Northwestern or at another institution. Our Master’s graduates have gone into PhD programs in Physics, Astronomy, Astrophysics and Neuroscience.

As for industry, one of our students recently began a position as a Machine Learning Engineer at Apple Inc., and another has been working as a Data Scientist for a large auto insurance company.

How long is the program?

The average time to completion has been 4.5 quarters for the Standard Path and 5 quarters for the Broad Path.

What courses will I take?

The core courses are classical mechanics, electrodynamics, quantum mechanics and statistical physics. 

May I customize my career path through elective course choices?

Yes, many of our students have taken Electives outside the Department. There is flexibility to help students reach their goals. Students have taken courses from the following departments, among others:

  • Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Engineering Science and Applied Mathematics
  • Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences
  • Materials Science
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering

Can I still apply if my major wasn’t Physics or Astronomy?

Promising students with degrees in related fields may be accepted to a 2-year program starting with undergraduate courses in the first year and graduate level courses in the second.

Does acceptance to the Master’s program ensure acceptance to the PhD program later?

No, it does not. Current students must apply as external applicants would. 

Are research or graduate assistantships available?

Department funding is not available. For tuition information, please go to Student Financial Service’s tuition website. Tuition information is subject to change.

For information on external fellowships or funding, please visit the Office of Fellowships’ website.

While not guaranteed, some students have been paid as lab assistants.

PATHS TO COMPLETION

Within the Master’s Program, there are two paths to completion: the Standard (Thesis) Path and the Broad Path.

Standard (Thesis) Path

  • Nine (9) graded courses are required
    • Five (5) core courses
    • Four (4) elective courses
  • Master’s Thesis
    • Either an in-depth reading project, or a research project, supervised by an appropriate faculty member
    • Thesis to be presented for evaluation
    • Usually completed by end of summer quarter of the first year

The Standard Path to the Master’s Degree is normally completed within one calendar year. The nine (9) graded courses are taken during the Fall, Winter and Spring quarters, research is done throughout the year, and the Master’s Thesis is written during the late Spring and Summer.

Broad Path

  • Twelve (12) graded courses are required
    • Five (5) core courses 
    • Seven (7) elective courses 

The Broad Path is typically completed in 15 months; nine (9) courses are taken during the Fall, Winter and Spring quarters of the first year, and the remaining three (3) courses are taken the following Fall.

COURSES

Core Courses

  • Physics 411-0: Classical Mechanics (fall)
  • Physics 412-1: Quantum Mechanics I (fall)
  • Physics 412-2: Quantum Mechanics II (winter)
  • Physics 414-1: Electrodynamics I (winter)
  • Physics 416-0: Introduction to Statistical Mechanics (winter)

Elective Courses

*Please note that you may take courses from other Departments with approval of the Director of the Master’s Program.

  • Physics 411-1: Methods of Theoretical Physics
  • Physics 412-3: Quantum Mechanics III
  • Physics 414-2: Electrodynamics II
  • Physics 420-0: Statistical Physics
  • Physics 422-1,2,3: Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physics 423-0: Nuclear Physics
  • Physics 424-1,2: Particle Physics
  • Physics 426-0: Non-linear Physics (ELEC_ENG 406-0)
  • Physics 430-0: Physics of Continuous Media
  • Physics 432-1,2: Many-body Theory
  • Physics 434-0: Quantum Fluids, Solids and Gases
  • Physics 435-0: Soft Matter Physics
  • Physics 436-0: Mesoscopic and Nanometer Scale Physics
  • Physics 445-1,2: General Relativity
  • Astronomy 421-0: Observational Astrophysics
  • Astronomy 425-0: Stellar Astrophysics
  • Astronomy 429-0: Extragalatic Astrophysics and Cosmology
  • Astronomy 443-0: Stellar Structure and Evolution
  • Astronomy 445-1,2: General Relativity and Applications
  • Astronomy 448-0: Interstellar Gas and Radiation Pressure
  • Astronomy 449-0: Stellar Dynamics

MS DEGREE REQUIREMENTS FOR PHD STUDENTS

Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program have the opportunity to obtain a formal Master’s degree as they work toward completion of the Ph.D. These requirements are as follows:

  • Completion of seven core courses in the first year
  • Completion of five or more elective courses in the second year
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher

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