Department of Physics

Graduate Program

(for the graduate brochure click here)

The Department of Physics offers a program of graduate study leading to the Master of Science degree. The program serves as preparation for a) further advanced study in physics or related fields, b) a career in government or industrial research, or c) teaching at the secondary or post-secondary level.

Chairperson:  Mark S. Boley
Graduate Committee Chairperson: Kishor T. Kapale

Office:  Currens Hall 212
Telephone: (309) 298-1596 Fax: (309) 298-2850
Location of Program Offering: Macomb

Graduate Faculty

  • Mark S. Boley, Ph.D., University of Missouri-Columbia
  • James A. Rabchuk, Ph.D., University of Illinois-Chicago

Associate Professors

  • P. K. Babu, Ph.D., Indian Institute of Science
  • Kishor Kapale, Ph.D., Texas A & M University
  • Pengqian Wang, Ph.D., Peking University

Assistant Professors

  • Esteban Araya, Ph.D., New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Associate Graduate Faculty
Assistant Professor

  • Saisudha Mallur, Ph.D., Indian Institute of Science

 Program Description

The Department of Physics offers a program of graduate study leading to the Master of Science degree. The program serves as preparation for a) further advanced study in physics or related fields, b) a career in government or industrial research, or c) teaching at the secondary or postsecondary level.

Integrated Baccalaureate and Master’s Degree Program

Go to integrated programs for details and program offerings.

 Admission Requirements

Students entering the program should have received their bachelor's degree with a major in physics. At the discretion of the Departmental Graduate Committee, other students may be admitted to the program; however, they may have to remedy deficiencies in their undergraduate preparation. The Graduate Record Examination is not required in physics.

Applications for admission are accepted at any time, but decisions concerning graduate assistantships are generally made by March 1 for the following academic year.

 Degree Requirements

Students must complete 34 semester hours of graduate credit including:

I. Core Courses: 9 s.h.

PHYS 510 Classical Mechanics I (3)
PHYS 520 Electromagnetic Theory I (3)
PHYS 530 Quantum Mechanics I (3)

II. Select one of the following plans of study: 25 s.h.

A. Internship

PHYS 572 Internship Preparation (to be completed before the internship is begun) (1)
PHYS 578 Graduate Physics Internship (8)
Directed Electives (PHYS 577 not to exceed 3 s.h.) (16)
Oral report to the Graduate Committee following the internship is required.

B. Thesis Plan

PHYS 571 Introduction to Thesis (must take prior to Thesis) (1)
PHYS 577 Special Problems in Physics (4)
PHYS 601 Thesis/Thesis Research (3)
Directed Electives (PHYS 577 not to exceed 4 s.h.) (17)

C. Course Work Plan

PHYS 528 Advanced Modern Optics (3)
PHYS 555 Statistical Mechanics (3)
PHYS 567 Mathematical Physics (3)
PHYS 570 Experimental Techniques in Physics (3)
PHYS 600 Seminar (1)
Directed Electives (PHYS 577 not to exceed 6 s.h.) (12)


Only two of the following 400-level physics courses can be counted toward the 34 credit hour requirement:

PHYS 410G Computational Methods (3)
PHYS 421G Electricity and Magnetism II (3)
PHYS 431G Introductory Quantum Mechanics II (3)
PHYS 461G Astrophysics I (3)
PHYS 462G Astrophysics II (3)
PHYS 468G Mathematical Methods of Physics II (3)
PHYS 477G Special Problems in Experimental and Theoretical Physics (1–4)

 Course Descriptions

Physics (PHYS)

410G Computational Methods. (3) Applications of FORTRAN and/or MATHEMATICA to programming of numerical and analytical calculations, data fitting, simulation of physical problems, and individualized work on problems chosen from the student's field of interest. Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of FORTRAN, one year of general physics, one year of calculus, or permission of the instructor.

421G Electricity and Magnetism II. (3) Maxwell’s equations, plane EM waves in infinite media, reflection and refraction of EM waves, guided EM waves, radiation of EM waves, relativistic treatment of electricity and magnetism. Prerequisites: PHYS 367, PHYS 420 or permission of the instructor.

430G Introductory Quantum Mechanics I. (3) Atomic nature of matter, introduction to quantum mechanics including the Schrödinger equation. Prerequisites: PHYS 214 and MATH 333.

431G Introductory Quantum Mechanics II. (3) Spin, fine structure, atomic spectroscopy, perturbation theory, applications. Prerequisite: PHYS 430.

439G Physics Methods. (3) Preparation for student teaching.  Includes analysis of objectives, new approaches, development of laboratory experiences, resources and utilization of instructional materials, test and evaluation, and prestudent-teaching instructional experiences.  Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

461G Astrophysics I. (3) Introduces basic concepts and tools in modern astrophysics, including celestial mechanics, spectroscopy, and telescopes. Provides a comprehensive description of stellar astrophysics. The physical processes and observational characteristics of stars in hydrostatic equilibrium, including our sun, are analyzed. Prerequisite: PHYS 214 or permission of instructor.

462G Astrophysics II. (3) An overview of galactic and extragalactic astrophysics. The Milky Way galaxy is studied in detail, including dark matter and stellar evolution. Other galaxies, the large scale properties of the universe and cosmology are discussed. Prerequisite: PHYS 461 or permission of instructor.

468G Mathematical Methods of Physics II. (3) Complex variables, orthogonal functions, special functions, general solution of partial differential equations in physics. Fourier series and Fourier integrals. Prerequisite: PHYS 367.

476G Special Topics in Physics. (1–4, repeatable) Lecture course in topics of current interest are given under this number. Topics based on the student's previous training and interests. Subjects announced in the class schedule. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

477G Special Problems in Experimental and Theoretical Physics. (1–4, repeatable) Individual investigations or studies of any phase of physics not provided for in the regular subjects. Opportunity for undergraduates to engage in experimental or theoretical research under the supervision of staff member. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

482G (cross-listed with CHEM 482 and BIOL 482) Science in Context. (3) Interdisciplinary course designed for middle and high school science teachers as well as students pursuing secondary science teacher licensure.  Students explore science as inquiry, the unifying principles of science, and the role of social contexts and ethics in science.

490G Seminar. (2) Reading, discussion, and criticism of selected topics. Oral presentation and formal paper on a chosen topic. Writing Instruction in the Discipline (WID) course.  Prerequisite: ENG 280.

510 Classical Mechanics I. (3) Variational principles: Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of mechanics; applications to central force motion, dynamics of rigid bodies, and small oscillations. Prerequisite: PHYS 311 or equivalent.

520 Electromagnetic Theory I. (3) General solutions of boundary value problems in electrostatics and magnetostatics, multipoles, macroscopic media, Maxwell's equations, conservation laws, plane EM waves, wave guides, resonant cavities. Prerequisite: PHYS 420 or equivalent.

528 Advanced Modern Optics. (3) Diffraction theory utilizing Fourier analysis, transformation properties of lens systems, spatial filtering, information processing. Prerequisite: PHYS 428 or equivalent.

530 Quantum Mechanics I. (3) Mathematically sophisticated treatment of the basic concepts of quantum mechanics. The Schrödinger equation is applied to one and three dimensional problems, stationary perturbation theory, and other selected topics. Prerequisite: PHYS 430 or equivalent.

535 Quantum Information Science. (3) Based on the paradigm that all information is physical, this course involves application of quantum mechanics to the study of how quantum objects carry information, and how they can be used to process information more efficiently than classical information systems. Prerequisite: Graduate standing or permission of the instructor.

536 Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics. (3) A study of simple atomic and molecular systems, their structure, and their interactions with electromagnetic radiation, as well as the experimental techniques used to investigate these systems. Prerequisites: PHYS 420 (Electricity and Magnetism I) or equivalent and PHYS 430 (Introductory Quantum Mechanics I) or equivalent.

540 Nuclear and Particle Physics. (3) Selected topics in nuclear physics with emphasis on experimentally observed phenomena including nuclear forces, nuclear reactions, energy levels, nuclear models, decay of unstable nuclei, and an introduction to elementary particles.

555 Statistical Mechanics. (3) Study of classical and quantum mechanical distributions with Maxwell-Boltzmann, Fermi-Dirac, and Bose-Einstein statistics. Topics include equations of state, electron and photon gases, liquid helium, and behavior of metals. Prerequisite: PHYS 354 or equivalent.

560 Topics in Solid State Physics. (3) A study of the electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties of crystalline solids, including lattice bonding, phonon dynamics, band theory, electrons in metals, semiconductors, and superconductivity. Prerequisite: PHYS 430 or equivalent.

563 Observational Radio Astronomy. (3) Introduction to radio astronomy. This course focuses on the astrophysical environments and physical mechanisms that generate radio emission in space, the types of radio telescopes used in research, and how to reduce and analyze single dish and interferometric observations. Prerequisite: Graduate standing or permission of the instructor.

567 Mathematical Physics. (3) Distributions, Green Functions, complex variables and special functions, ordinary and partial differential equations. Prerequisite: PHYS 468 or equivalent.

570 Experimental Techniques in Physics. (3) Introduction to experimental research techniques including equipment design, machining, vacuum techniques, cryogenics, and practical electronics.

571 Introduction to Thesis. (1) A course intended to familiarize the student with technical literature searches, selection of research areas, and thesis writing techniques. Graded S/U.

572 Internship Preparation. (1) A course intended to prepare the student for PHYS 578, Graduate Physics Internship. Graded S/U.

576 Special Topics in Physics. (1–4, repeatable under different special topics) Lecture courses in topics of current interest.

577 Special Problems in Physics. (1–8, repeatable) Individual problems in the field of physics are selected according to the interest and needs of the student. Graded S/U.

578 Graduate Physics Internship. (8) A one‑semester on‑the‑job experience in an industrial facility or research laboratory. Graded S/U. Prerequisite: PHYS 572.

600 Seminar. (1, repeatable) Prerequisite: 2 s.h. of PHYS 577

601 Thesis/Thesis Research. (3) Graded S/U.