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Physics MS

Ranked by the American Physical Society as one of the top physics master's programs in the U.S., the MS in Physics is designed to:

  • advance your understanding of the concepts of modern and classical physics
  • develop your ability to apply these concepts to solve practical problems

We are interested in working with inquisitive and enthusiastic students who plan to pursue:

  • professional careers in research and teaching
  • applied areas of industrial research and development

The Physics Department offers a range of graduate courses in:

  • astrophysics
  • computational physics
  • electrodynamics
  • fluid physics
  • mathematical physics
  • nuclear physics
  • quantum mechanics
  • relativity

The department also offers courses emphasizing research—including thesis research and independent study in special topics.

You'll be encouraged to participate in faculty research in areas such as theoretical and computational physics—including atomic physics, relativity, high-energy and gravitational physics, and traffic modeling. Most students are supported by teaching or research assistantships.

Under the guidance of a graduate advisor, you will follow a course of study and research that is in harmony with your own background and goals. The size of our program fosters close personal contacts among students and faculty.

Our program's part-time option is geared toward students who are already professionally active but wish to enhance their knowledge base in the field.

Suoqing Ji ’13, MS Physics, College of Engineering
Unraveling the mysteries of the universe

Suoqing Ji, a recipient of the Burke Prize Fellowship in Theoretical Physics & Astrophysics, says with the help of computer simulations, human intelligence can unravel the mysteries in the deep universe.

Starting salary range:
$55,000 - $85,000

Private Sector: Spring 2020

The program's objectives are to:

  • provide a research-oriented master's program with diverse research opportunities
  • prepare graduates for professional positions in industry and teaching
  • prepare graduates to pursue PhD programs in physics and related fields

Ocean physics: We provide a path to the PhD program in oceanography at UMassD's School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST). Learn more: SMAST PhD program

PhD in EAS: UMassD's doctoral program in Engineering & Applied Science (EAS) offers opportunities for contemporary, advanced interdisciplinary research. Learn more: PhD in Engineering & Applied Science

Candidates for the MS in Physics must complete a minimum of 30 semester hours of coursework. The department offers 3 degree options: MS with thesis, MS with research project, and MS with comprehensive examination.

Graduate coursework comprises 500- and 600-level courses, although up to 6 credits of the total may be taken in advanced undergraduate (400-level) courses.

While the program is designed to meet a variety of professional needs, at least 15 credits of physics core courses are required. The remaining credits may be drawn from physics or other engineering or science fields with prior approval of the Physics Graduate Program Director.

Major areas of research in the Physics Department include:

  • AMO Physics
  • Computational and Theoretical Physics
  • Experimental Nuclear Physics
  • Ocean Physics
  • Theoretical and Computational Astrophysics
  • Traffic Engineering

A limited number of assistantships are available on a competitive basis. This award is subject to the work needs of the position and department, your satisfactory performance of duties, your academic record, and availability of funds, and may be subject to change.

International (F-1) students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees may be eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training (OPT). To learn about the eligibility criteria and detailed steps to apply, please review the International Student & Scholar Center (ISSC) OPT page and USCIS resources. F-1 students must consult with the ISSC to apply for STEM OPT.

University requirements for graduate admissions

  • Submit an application via the online portal. Be sure to provide your full legal name and to capitalize the first letter of all proper nouns.
  • Pay non-refundable $60 application fee (American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa) via the online portal. For Nursing applicants, the non-refundable application fee is $75.
  • Statement of Purpose, minimum 300 words. Unless otherwise indicated in the program requirement details, indicate your graduate study objectives, research interests and experience, and business or industry experience if applicable. If you are applying for a teaching or research assistantship, include any special skills or experience that would assist us in making assistantship decisions.
  • Resume
  • Transcripts for all post-secondary institutions attended (regardless of whether a credential is earned or not). Unofficial transcripts are accepted for admissions application review, once enrolled a final official transcript is required.
  • Many programs have specific recommendations/requirements, please see the additional program-specific requirements for more information.
  • International students: official TOEFL, IELTS, Pearson PTE or Duolingo (if accepted by program) score. Unofficial scores are accepted for admissions application review, once enrolled official scores are required and must be sent by the testing agency (copies/scans not accepted). This is required of any applicant who did not earn a bachelor’s degree or higher degree from an accredited academic institution in the U.S. or accepted English-speaking country, see exemptions for more details. The Duolingo test is not accepted for the following programs: Art Education, Biology/Marine Biology, Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies & Theory, Marine Science and Technology (MS, PSM, PhD), Nursing (MS, DNP, PhD), Portuguese Studies, Professional Writing and Communication, Psychology (ABA, Clinical, Research), and Public Policy.

Program-specific requirements

Candidates must submit the required application materials, university requirements and program-specific requirements, for consideration.

An undergraduate degree in physics is not required for admission to or support in the MS in Physics program. Many of our most successful students have earned undergraduate degrees in other fields, usually in engineering or a closely-related science, such as mechanical engineering, mathematics, or computer science.

Applicants from other disciplines should contact the Physics Program Director prior to submitting their materials to discuss the particulars of their case.

We suggest that our applicants have a 3.0 GPA but this is not a firm requirement.


  • GRE score: Not required but recommended, especially for assistantship consideration.
  • 2 letters of recommendation: from persons in the field of your academic major at the institution most recently attended or from supervisors familiar with your recent job performance. Applicants will be required to provide the recommenders name and email address so we can contact the recommender for the letter of recommendation.

Program deadlines

Physics Faculty

David Kagan
Grant O'Rielly
J.P. Hsu
Jay Wang
Robert Fisher
Renuka Rajapakse