The Master of Science program in physics requires a minimum of 30 s.h. of graduate credit. All students must earn the required 30 s.h. of graduate credit in courses numbered 4000 or above, with at least 15 s.h. in courses numbered 5000 or above. At least 24 s.h. must be completed under the auspices of the University of Iowa after admission to the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Students must maintain a program g.p.a. of at least 2.75 (3.0 for Ph.D. program).

Each student's plan of study should provide for as much advanced work as aptitude and previous preparation permit. Up to one-third of the program of study may be taken in related scientific fields other than physics (e.g., mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, engineering).

The degree is offered with thesis or critical essay. Students who choose the thesis option must write a thesis based on an original experimental or theoretical investigation that they have conducted. Students may earn a maximum of 6 s.h. in PHYS:7990 Research: Physics or PHYS:7992 Individual Critical Study.

Students who choose the critical essay option must conduct an independent study of the literature on a particular area of physics and write a critical essay on that topic. Students may earn a maximum of 4 s.h. in PHYS:7990 Research: Physics or PHYS:7992 Individual Critical Study.

The M.S. may be a terminal degree or a step toward a Ph.D. In either case, the final examination is oral, conducted by a committee of three faculty members.

Listed below are the general categories of coursework required to earn the degree; for more specific information on courses, curriculum, and requirements of the Master of Science in physics, visit the UI General Catalog.

Degree Requirements
Title Hours
Upper-Level Physics Courses 15
Additional Upper-Level Electives or Thesis/Critical Essay Work 15
Total Hours 30

Important Deadlines

Application Deadline: January 15th (for Fall semester enrollment)


Admission decisions are based on prior academic performance, letters of reference, and the applicant's statement about background and purpose. Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College on the Graduate College website. For more information, see the Graduate Admissions Process page.