Physics

In essence, science is a perpetual search for an intelligent and integrated comprehension of the world we live in. —Cornelius Bernardus Van Neil

Physics—MS, PhD

Fast Facts

  • All physics and engineering physics graduate students are financially supported
  • The ratio of graduate students to research faculty is approximately 3:1
  • The highest energy cosmic rays are investigated via the Auger Observatory, the largest observatory in the world. Collaborations are under way with several government laboratories, including Argonne National Lab, the Army Research Lab, the Naval Research Lab, and Oak Ridge National Lab.
  • A recent $2.5-million renovation provided major upgrades in physics classroom technology and lab space

Learn more about the Physics program.

Graduate Programs in Physics

The Department of Physics at Michigan Tech offers nationally ranked programs leading to the MS and PhD degrees in Physics and the PhD degree in Engineering Physics.

From astronomy to molecular physics research in physics spans vast orders of magnitudes in space, time, and energy. Atomic properties of rare earth elements, spin polarization, carbon and boron nitride nanotubes, atomic clusters, photonics and waveguides, protein folding, dislocations, atmospheric and cloud processes, and astrophysics are all studied.

Gamma ray bursts—high-energy pulses observed from billions of light years away and dating from the early universe—are researched here. The highest energy cosmic rays are investigated via the Auger Observatory, the largest observatory in the world. The department is home to at least fifteen active research faculty, as well as adjunct faculty, visitors, postdocs, and forty graduate students. Physics hosts seven labs, is involved in the operation of three observatories, and provides a machine shop, liquid nitrogen facility, and advanced research computing workstations and clusters. Researchers also have easy access to scanning electron microscopy labs and other advanced characterization and fabrication facilities.

Learn more about the Physics program.

Master's Degree: Thesis Option

This option requires a research thesis prepared under the supervision of the advisor.  The thesis describes a research investigation and its results. The scope of the research topic for the thesis should be defined in such a way that a full-time student could complete the requirements for a master’s degree in twelve months or three semesters following the completion of course work by regularly scheduling graduate research credits. 

The minimum requirements are as follows:

Course work (minimum)20 credits
Thesis research6–10 credits
Total (minimum)30 credits
Distribution of course work credit 
5000–6000 series (minimum)12 credits
3000–4000 level (maximum)12 credits

 

Programs may have stricter requirements and may require more than the minimum numbers of credits listed here.

Master's Degree: Report Option

This option requires a report describing the results of an independent study project. The scope of the research topic should be defined in such a way that a full-time student could complete the requirements for a master’s degree in twelve months or three semesters following the completion of course work by regularly scheduling graduate research credits. 

Of the minimum total of 30 credits, at least 24 must be earned in course work other than the project:

Course work24 credits
Report2–6 credits
Total (minimum)30 credits
Distribution of course work credit 
5000–6000 series (minimum)12 credits
3000–4000 level (maximum)12 credits

 

Programs may have stricter requirements and may require more than the minimum numbers of credits listed here.

Master's Degree: Course Work Option

This option requires a minimum of 30 credits be earned through course work. Research credits may be used on a case-by-case basis following the approval of the graduate program director. 

A graduate program may require an oral or written examination before conferring the degree and may require more than the minimum credits listed here:

Distribution of course work credit 
5000–6000 series (minimum)18 credits
3000–4000 level (maximum)12 credits

PhD Requirements

To complete a doctoral degree, students must complete the following milestones:

  • Complete all course work and research credits (see credit requirements below)
  • Pass Qualifying Examination
  • Pass Research Proposal Examination
  • Prepare and Submit Approved Dissertation
  • Pass Final Oral Defense

The minimum credit requirements are as follows:

Total Credit Requirements 
MS–PhD (minimum)30 credits
BS–PhD (minimum)60 credits

 

Individual programs may have higher standards and students are expected to know their program's requirements. See the Doctor of Philosophy Requirements website for more information about PhD milestones and related timelines.