Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy

2005-06 Handbook for Physics and Astronomy Graduate Students

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M.S. Degrees in Physics and Astronomy

Master of Science Degree in Physics and Astronomy

Students in the M.S. degree program in physics may choose either the basic or the applied option. The basic option is designed to mesh with the Ph.D. program so that the Ph.D. students may rather easily obtain the M.S. degree and so that M.S. students who do not go on to the Ph.D. degree will have a meaningful and useful degree which will help them in their subsequent career. The applied option, designed primarily for students having or planning careers in industrial laboratories, is designed to allow the student considerable flexibility in choosing courses which may be both within the Physics Department and in other areas of interest. Students choosing this option would not normally continue for the Ph.D. degree. The M.S. program is designed to handle part-time as well as full-time students.

Course and Thesis Requirements

The M.S. degree requires 30 credits of which up to 12 credits may be in upperclass undergraduate (300-400 series) courses. No more than nine credits with grades of C may be accepted toward the M.S. degree. Up to twelve credits may be transferred from other institutions with approval of the department and the Graduate School. The candidate may choose to write a thesis (in which case 6 of the 30 required credits must be devoted to thesis research) or to submit an essay (which is to be based on material from a regular physics course or Physics 699). Among the 30 required credits must be the following or their equivalents:

M.S. Examination

The M.S. examination is an oral comprehensive examination covering the fundamentals of the courses taken by the student in the program and, in the case when a thesis is submitted, over the thesis material. No M.S. exam is required for students who have been advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. or have passed both oral components of the Qualifying Examination, and do not submit a thesis. Students failing the examination on the first attempt will be permitted one more attempt. The examination is to be administered by the student's M.S. committee. This consists of three faculty members appointed by the Graduate Program Director, one of whom is normally the M.S. coordinator. When courses have been taken outside of physics, the committee should contain a faculty member from the appropriate discipline.

Financial Support

The general policy of financial support is as described for the Ph.D. program. However, the department rarely has resources to provide financial support to Masters students.

Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) Degree in Physics and Astronomy

The Graduate Studies Committee will consider requests from Physics graduate students for the Master of Philosophy degree. The committee will generally observe the following guidelines:

Master of Science for Teachers (MST) Degree in Physics and Astronomy

The M.S.T. degree is primarily for practicing teachers, although others may be accepted. The requirements for the M.S.T. degree in physics consist of 30 credits, a comprehensive examination, and an essay or thesis.

The courses are chosen in consultation with the departmental advisor to fit the needs of the individual student, with the aim of giving each candidate the opportunity to learn more physics. Both undergraduate and graduate courses may be used, depending on the person's previous experience.

Each candidate must demonstrate competence in the basic subjects of mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, atomic and nuclear structure, and calculus at a comprehensive M.S.T. examination. The examination is normally oral, and is administered by a committee of three members of the faculty appointed by the Graduate Program Director.

To the extent that a student has satisfied the basic physics requirements as preparation for the comprehensive examination, he or she may select courses in physics, other sciences, mathematics, or in education.

No more than nine credits with grades of C may be accepted toward the M.S.T. degree. Up to twelve credits may be transferred from other institutions with approval of the department and the Graduate School.

The M.S.T. critical essay is generally a review of a particular area of physics, resulting from specialized study. It may also describe the results of a candidate's development of a novel teaching unit, including perhaps a laboratory experiment. An M.S.T. candidate may elect to submit a regular M.S.T. thesis for which six credits may be earned through research rather than in courses. The research may be in theoretical or experimental physics, or it may be primarily pedagogical in nature. The research must be supervised by a member of the faculty with the advice of the candidate's committee and a final defense of the thesis work will be held before the candidate's committee.

Non-Matriculated Students

A student may take any of the regular courses offered by the physics department or any of the special evening courses upon admission to the graduate school as a non-matriculated student. Such courses may later be applied toward any of the regular degree programs if the student is admitted as a candidate for such a degree. Students applying for non-matriculated status should submit a transcript of their undergraduate grades and one letter of recommendation along with their application; GRE tests are not required.

Another possibility is to apply through the Office of Non-degree Graduate Study, but students are not allowed to accumulate more than 12 credits in non-degree study prior to matriculation in a graduate program.

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Revised July, 2005