University General Course Catalog 2020-2021 
    May 27, 2024  

Physics, M.S.

The physics department offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science in physics.  An M.S. degree in atmospheric sciences is also offered (see the Interdisciplinary Programs section of this catalog).

Contact Information

Jonathan Weinstein, Graduate Program Director
Office: Leifson Physics 211
Phone: (775) 784-6821

Program Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes

The program aims to provide a broad understanding of physics at the graduate level.  Course work is intended to provide a broad treatment of fundamental physics as well as an introduction to specialized physics research topics.  Students completing the program would be expected to be prepared to undertake physics research at the doctoral level.

Admission Requirements

Admissions are done through the graduate school.   Please consult regulations of the Graduate School  for general admission requirements.  Admissions may be done online at The deadline for completed applications for the fall semester is March 1st.  The deadline for applications for the spring semester is November 1st; the department discourages applications for the spring semester under ordinary circumstances.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required.  Although it is not a requirement, applicants are encouraged to take the GRE Physics Subject Test.

I. Program Requirements

Candidates for the master’s degree must satisfy all the general requirements of the Graduate School  .

Two plans of study are offered, Plan A (with thesis) and Plan B (without thesis).  The physics department recommends that students follow Plan A.

The program of study for Plan A should include:

  • (3 units)
  • (3 units)
  • (3 units)
  • (3 units)
  • (3 units)
  • (1 unit)
  • Approved Electives (8 units)
  • (1 to 6 units)

  • The program of study is planned in consultation with a graduate advisor and is subject to approval by the student’s advisory/examining committee and the graduate dean. The thesis should demonstrate the student’s ability to carry out independent research. All master of science candidates must pass a final oral examination administered by the student’s advisory/examining committee.

    For Plan A students, the emphasis in the examination will be on the thesis.

    Subject to the approval of a student’s committee, a student may elect to follow the Plan B (without thesis) option. For the master’s program without thesis, 32 credits are required.  The 32 credits must include all the required classes of the Plan A option, and no more than six credits may be in special problems courses.

    Students also must pass a written comprehensive examination and a final oral examination on graduate-level course work administered by the student’s advisory committee.

II. Total Units

Plan A total: (30 credits)
Plan B total: (32 credits)


Graduate students who hold half-time assistantships are not permitted to enroll for more than 10 credits in graduate courses per semester.

Undergraduate Prerequisites

1. A bachelor’s degree in physics or related discipline.

2. Completion of undergraduate courses in classical mechanics; electricity and magnetism; thermal and statistical physics; and quantum mechanics.

3.  An average grade of 3.0 or better in all physics courses, and an overall average of 3.0 or better in all undergraduate courses.

Applicants whose records indicate a deficiency in any of the requirements listed above may be admitted on a probationary basis and may be required to take undergraduate courses (which do not carry graduate credit) to address their deficiencies.