This is a named option within the Physics M.S. The master of science research degree program in physics requires the completion of a directed master's project and thesis in the student's area of interest, 30 credits of graduate work (including the core course requirements), and passage of the qualifying examination at the master's level. It is designed to strengthen the student's background and experience in physics, and enhance the opportunities for employment as a physicist or in physics education.

The research program in physics is unusually broad in scope with active experimental and theoretical research programs in astrophysics; atomic, molecular, and optical physics; biophysics; condensed matter physics; elementary particle physics; nuclear physics; particle physics theory; phenomenology; and plasma physics. This broad range of research opportunities makes the department especially attractive to beginning students who have not yet chosen a field of specialization.

Research specialties include:

THEORETICAL PHYSICS

Astrophysics; atomic, molecular, and optical physics; condensed matter physics; cosmology; elementary particle physics; nuclear physics; phenomenology; plasmas and fusion; quantum computing; statistical and thermal physics; string theory.

EXPERIMENTAL PHYSICS

Astrophysics; atomic, molecular, and optical physics; biophysics; condensed matter physics; cosmology; elementary particle physics; neutrino physics; experimental studies of superconductors; medical physics; nuclear physics; plasma physics; quantum computing; spectroscopy.

Fall Deadline December 15
Spring Deadline This program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline This program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Admission is competitive. All applicants are reviewed and evaluated on the basis of previous academic record, three letters of recommendation, statement of purpose for graduate studies, resume, and Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general and subject scores. For applicants whose native language is not English, the department requires a minimum score of 580 (paper-based), 237 (computer-based) or 92 (internet-based) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam, or 7 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. To be considered for admission, students must submit all application materials (including test scores) via the Graduate School electronic application site by December 15.  

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Information

Students admitted to the MS degree in Physics are not typically provided with a guarantee of funding support.  

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Named Option Requirements

MODE OF INSTRUCTION

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS

Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (https://registrar.wisc.edu/course-guide/). No 300-level courses will be counted toward the 30 credit minimum.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
Assessments and Examinations All master of science degree candidates must pass the qualifying examination at the master's level.

Master of science degree candidates must write a master's thesis and defend that thesis in a seminar.
Language Requirements Contact the program for information on any language requirements.

Required COURSES

All graduate degree candidates are required to take five core courses:

Required Core
PHYSICS 711 Theoretical Physics-Dynamics3
PHYSICS 715 Statistical Mechanics3
PHYSICS 721 Theoretical Physics-Electrodynamics3
PHYSICS 731 Quantum Mechanics3
PHYSICS 732 Quantum Mechanics3

The remaining 15 credits may be earned through a combination of research and coursework, to be determined by the advisor in consultation with the student.

 

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Named Option-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

Prior coursework from other institution may count toward any graduate degree in physics as allowed by the Graduate School policy on prior coursework.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

Up to 7 credits in courses numbered 500 or above may be used to satisfy minimum degree requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval and payment of difference in tuition (between Special and graduate tuition), students are allowed to count no more than 15 credits of coursework numbered 500 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

PROBATION

Grade of B or better in all coursework and a minimum cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0 are required.

ADVISOR / COMMITTEE

All students are assigned a temporary advisor upon matriculation. The responsibility to acquire (choose and be accepted by) a major professor ( permanent advisor) is entirely with the student. Acceptance for M.S. research by a professor depends on the professor’s appraisal of the student’s potential for research and on the ability of the professor to accept a student at that time. Usually the major professor will be able to offer support in the form of a research assistantship, but this is not always the case, and occasionally a student may need to work as a teaching assistant while performing thesis research.

Graduate students should begin research work as early as possible. Students are encouraged to acquire a major professor (advisor) and begin research by the end of the second semester. Students who do not acquire a research advisor and begin research by the end of their third semester may be dropped from the program.

All M.S. candidates are required to write a master's thesis and present their research in a seminar. All master's theses must be approved a committee comprised of the student's advisor and two other members, at least one additional faculty member. 

CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED

15 credits

Time Constraints

n/a

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances.

Other

n/a

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Students are encouraged to attend Graduate School sponsored Professional Development events and participate in Graduate School Professional Development resources, such as the Individual Development Plan (IDP).

Faculty

More detail about each faculty member and the research areas can be found on the Physics website.

Yang Bai, Associate Professor
Baha Balantekin, Eugene P. Wigner Professor
Vernon Barger, Vilas Professor and Van Vleck Professor
Keith Bechtol, Assistant Professor
Kevin Black, Professor
Stanislav Boldyrev, Professor
Tulika Bose, Professor
Victor Brar, Assistant Professor
Duncan Carlsmith, Professor
Daniel Chung, Professor
Susan Coppersmith, Robert E. Fassnacht Professor and Vilas Professor
Sridhara Dasu, Department Chair & Professor
Jan Egedal, Professor
Mark Eriksson, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor
Lisa Everett, Professor
Cary Forest, Prager Professor of Experimental Physics
Pupa Gilbert, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor
Francis Halzen, Gregory Breit Professor and Hilldale Professor
Kael Hanson, Professor, WIPAC Director
Aki Hashimoto, Professor
Matthew Herndon, Professor
Lev Ioffe, Professor
Robert Joynt, Professor
Albrecht Karle, Professor, IceCube Associate Director, Science & Instrumentation
Shimon Kolkowitz, Assistant Professor
James Lawler, Arthur and Aurelia Schawlow Professor
Alex Levchenko, Associate Professor
Dan McCammon, Professor
Robert McDermott, Professor
Marshall Onellion, Professor
Kimberly Palladino, Assistant Professor
Yibin Pan, Associate Professor
Brian Rebel, Associate Professor
Mark Rzchowski, Associate Chair and Professor
Mark Saffman, Professor
John Sarff, Professor
Gary Shiu, Professor
Paul Terry, Professor
Peter Timbie, Professor
Justin Vandenbroucke, Associate Professor
Maxim Vavilov, Professor
Thad Walker, Professor
Sau Lan Wu, Enrico Fermi Professor and Vilas Professor
Deniz Yavuz, Professor
Ellen Zweibel, William L Kraushaar Professor of Astronomy & Physics

Affiliated Faculty

David Anderson, Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Paul Campagnola, Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Jennifer Choy, Assistant Professor, Engineering Physics
Elena D'Onghia, Associate Professor, Astronomy
Chang-Beom Eom, Professor, Materials Science & Engineering
Chris Hegna, Professor, Engineering Physics
Sebastian Heinz, Professor, Astronomy
Mikhail Kats, Associate Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Jason Kawasaki, Assistant Professor, Materials Science & Engineering
Alexandre Lazarian, Professor, Astronomy
Oliver Schmitz, Professor, Engineering Physics
Carl Sovinec, Professor, Engineering Physics