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Masters in Physics
The physics study has contributed to many pivotal discoveries of the 20th century, including the laser, television, radio, computer technology, and nuclear weapons. It has played a significant role in developing quantum theory, the idea of the big bang, relativity theory, etc.
Master of Science (M.S.) in Physics programs allow students to explore advanced topics in the field, such as quantum and statistical mechanics. A few institutions allow master’s degree candidates to choose an area of specialization, such as astrophysics, biophysics, material physics, or nonlinear dynamics.
Students can use a master’s physics program as a bridge between undergraduate studies and the prestigious doctoral degree. A bachelor’s degree in physics or sufficient physics coursework is required before admission to a master’s program.
The time frame and Entry Requirements
Completing a master’s degree program in physics typically takes two years of study at an accredited college, university, or professional school. However, many factors may increase or decrease the amount of time taken from enrollment to graduation.
Students are usually required to complete comprehensive examinations and a thesis or research project before graduating.
Students need to check the website of a university for their entry policies. Most programs have specific GPA standards, but some programs will admit on a conditional basis if your GPA is below that benchmark. Others give more priority to work experience.
Generally, in the U.S., to apply for the master’s program in physics, students would need a bachelor’s degree, preferably in the sciences.
In the U.K. The standard minimum entry requirement is an upper second class honor, or a 2.1, in your bachelor’s degree or equivalent to an international qualification.
Students will probably need to show English Language proficiency poofs through certificates like TOEFL, IELTS, a Certificate of Advanced English, or an English Language GSCE at grade B or above.
Although it is not mandatory, most universities will only accept candidates who have previously studied physics or a very closely related subject.
Studying undergraduate courses relating to classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics, statistical physics, etc., is preferred. Students must also submit GRE scores and admission essays if required.
However, suppose you have a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than physics. In that case, you may need to take classes before formal admission into a physics master’s degree program. Some schools even offer “bridge programs” designed to help students transition into graduate school.
Course structure and content
Physics master’s degree programs generally take two years to complete. The curriculum typically includes seminar-style courses and hands-on laboratory work to teach students how to incorporate analyzing data and computational tools using the laboratory equipment. Specific courses might consist of the following:
- Quantum and statistical mechanics
- Solid-state physics
- Electromagnetic theory
- Mathematical methods in physics
- Atmospheric physics
- Classical electrodynamics
Most universities also ask students to submit a research-based dissertation related to a topic that interests them.
The tuition costs vary significantly across countries and institutions. You can expect to pay between $30,000 and $80,000 per year for a Master’s program in the U.S. The cost range for an equivalent degree is 15,000 GBP – 35,000 GBP per year in the U.K.
Many institutions offer financial assistance in scholarships and student loans to students who have accepted graduate degrees or approved graduate certificate programs.
Salary and Career Outlook
Most physicists work full time, mainly working in theoretical research, applied research, and developmental roles. A master’s degree in physics combines advanced coursework with laboratory research in astrophysics, biophysics, material physics, or nonlinear dynamics. It prepares graduates to work as teachers in educational institutions or as scientists in research and development labs.
Other work areas include Aerospace industry, Business, Computer programmer or analyst, Data analysis, Medicine, Engineering, Defense industry, Information technology, and computer software, Manufacturing.
As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data of May 2019, the mean annual wage for physicists was $131,080. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $62,470, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $201,990.
The BLS has projected that from 2018-2028, jobs for physicists would increase by 9%.
M.S. in Physics graduates may choose to pursue more advanced education in the form of a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Physics. Students may also take additional courses to specialize in a particular area of the field, such as molecular physics or instrumentation and engineering physics.