Navigation + Search
Home / Graduate Studies / Masters Degree In Physics

Masters Degree In Physics


The Department of Physics at Case Western Reserve University has a rolling admission policy for the M.S. program in physics. Candidates are invited to submit applications for the following fall semester at any time, and can expect to receive notification of the admission committee’s decision within approximately two weeks of submitting an application. However, we recommend early application because there is a limited number of available positions.

Applications will be accepted until the available number of positions is filled. International applicants are encouraged to submit applications by June 1 or earlier in order to ensure sufficient time to secure visas if needed. Candidates will only be accepted for matriculation in the fall semester.

Criteria for admission to the M.S. program include a bachelor’s degree in physics, mathematics, or a related field, or a strong record of undergraduate work in physics and mathematics. Students should have taken standard upper level undergraduate subjects such as quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, and classical mechanics.

The application procedure for the M.S. program is identical to that for the Ph.D. program except that the Physics GRE test is not required. Note that the $50 application fee is waived for the Physics program, although there is a small fee for the online application process. Unofficial transcripts and reports of standardized test results are accepted for the application process, but applicants should note that official test reports and transcripts are required for registration in the program.

Financial Aid

Tuition and stipend support are not provided by the department for M.S. students.

Requirements for the M.S. degree

Requirements for the Master’s degree include course work, a comprehensive examination, and an optional thesis.

For program A, the M.S. with thesis, students take the graduate courses Quantum Mechanics I, Classical Electromagnetism, and 12 to 15 hours of additional graduate course work, of which at least 6 hours must be in physics. 9 to 6 hours of thesis research and a written thesis and oral defense are also required.

For program B, the M.S. without thesis, the graduate courses Quantum Mechanics I, Classical Electromagnetism, and 21 hours of other courses, of which at least 9 must be in physics, are required. In addition the candidate must pass a comprehensive examination.

The 27 hours of required courses can generally be completed in three semesters. Candidates must be in residence (paying tuition) in the semester in which they complete requirements and receive the degree. Applications for graduation should be filed early in the third semester. Candidates for the Ph.D. degree may apply for and receive M.S. degrees on the basis of work completed for the Ph.D. degree.

Additional Courses for Cultural Purposes

The University permits graduate students to enroll in up to eight fellowship courses that are not counted toward the degree requirements, for no additional charge. These may include, for example, courses in foreign language, history, philosophy, business and management, music, engineering, etc. These courses will be graded and the grades will appear on the student’s transcript. The purpose of this policy is to allow students pursuing graduate degrees to take courses beyond their degree requirements without additional financial burden to the student and little or no cost to the University. Such courses, referred to as “fellowship” courses, can broaden the educational experience of graduate students by allowing them to pursue studies according to their own intellectual needs. An application is required in order to have a course approved as a fellowship course. Students are not charged for fellowship courses as long as they are registered for the minimum number of credit hours per semester for their degree program as required by the School of Graduate Studies and/or their department. Also, they must have a Program of Study on file at Graduate Studies. All policies relating to drop/add and withdrawal apply to fellowship courses. Please note that courses will not be allowed to count as Fellowship Courses retroactively.

Master’s Comprehensive Examination

The Master’s Comprehensive Examination is based on advanced undergraduate material and material covered in the introductory courses: Quantum Mechanics I & II; Classical Electromagnetism; and Classical and Statistical Mechanics I & II. Additionally, material from the undergraduate courses (such as relativity) may be incorporated into the exam. A normally prepared student will be expected to take the qualifying examination in May at the end of the first year of graduate study. Students who do not pass the first time will speak with the chair of the qualifying committee and Director of Graduate Studies to ascertain if there is a disconnect between knowledge and performance on the exam. They will discuss with the student how best to maximize the chance of passing on the student’s second attempt, generally in mid- to late August.

Colloquia and Seminars

In addition to course work and individualized direction in research, the Physics Department provides a third medium of teaching, one which is shared by students and faculty alike.

Colloquia are talks of a general nature, given at a level that all graduate students in all areas of physics should be able to follow. They are usually held on Thursdays. Notices (and whenever possible brief introductions to the subject) will be distributed well in advance of each colloquium. Graduate students are urged and expected to attend all of these colloquia. All graduate students are required to register each semester for the zero credit-hour course Frontiers in Physics, PHYS 666, which consists of attendance at colloquia.

Seminars tend to deal more narrowly with specific topics, and often require some expertise in the field. Students in the Master’s program are encouraged to attend seminars in areas of their interests as well as to take advantage of seminars in other areas and colloquia in other departments.

Page last modified: May 24, 2016