Program Description

The M.S. program in Physics provides the student with an opportunity for advanced study in physics and to develop skills to do independent research. It prepares the student for doctoral programs in physics and related fields or for more technical jobs in research and development.

Program Requirements

A. For Admission

Students may be admitted as either classified or conditionally classified graduate students. In addition to University requirements, the Department of Physics and Astronomy requires:

  1. Submission of a Department of Physics and Astronomy Graduate Program Application. This is a separate application in addition to the University application.
  2. If the applicant has a bachelor’s degree in Physics and a GPA of at least 3.0 in all upper division physics lecture classes, the applicant will be admitted as a classified graduate student. If the applicant’s undergraduate GPA is between 2.5 and 3.0, the applicant may be admitted as a conditionally classified graduate student. If the applicant submits the General Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores—scoring at or above the 50th percentile on the quantitative section—the applicant will be admitted as a classified graduate student.
  3. If the bachelor’s degree is in a related field, the GPA requirements for classification in the applicant’s major are the same as above. In addition, the applicant must have completed all necessary undergraduate courses for the program prior to being granted admission to the Master of Science in Physics program.
  4. Two letters of recommendation.

B. For Classified Status

  1.  A bachelor’s degree in Physics. If the major is in a related field, completion of prescribed prerequisites with grades of “B” or better is required.
  2. General University requirements for classified status.
  3. If the student’s undergraduate GPA is below 3.0, the student needs to score at or above the 50th percentile on the quantitative portion of the Graduate Record Examination.

C. Conditionally Classified Status

If a student meets the department admission requirements but does not meet the requirements for classified status, conditional classification may be given. No more than 12 units of coursework prior to attaining fully classified status will be applied to a master’s program.

D. For the Degree

Completion, with a “B” average (3.0) or higher of 30 units of approved graduate study, including a minimum of 21 units of 500- and 600-level courses.

1. Required Core Courses (14 units)

PHYS 600 Classical Mechanics (4)
PHYS 610 Electromagnetic Theory (4)
PHYS 630 Statistical Physics (3)
PHYS 650 Quantum Mechanics I (3)

The four core courses must be completed with a “B” average (3.0) or higher, and at least three of these courses must be taken in residence at CSUN. Students are strongly advised to complete the graduate core courses early in their studies.

2. Electives (10-15 units)

To be selected, with approval of the department graduate advisor, from 400-, 500- and 600-level courses. Up to 6 out of 30 units of approved courses may be in related fields: astronomy, chemistry, engineering and mathematics. Up to 9 units may be at the 400-level. The list of approved electives offered by the Department of Physics and Astronomy:

ASTR 401 The Radiative Universe (3)
PHYS 402 Analytical Mechanics II (3)
PHYS 410 Electromagnetism II (3)
PHYS 420 Modern Optics (3)
PHYS 421 Laser Physics (3)
PHYS 431 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (4)
PHYS 451 Quantum Physics II (3)
PHYS 465 Experimental Physics III (2)
PHYS 466 Experimental Physics IV (2)
PHYS 470 Introduction to Nuclear and Elementary Particle Physics (3)
PHYS 480 Introduction to Solid State Physics (3)
PHYS 489 Mathematical Methods in Physics II (3)
PHYS 490 Computer Applications in Physics (3)
PHYS 493 Physics and Astronomy Colloquium (1-1-1)
PHYS 585 Computational Materials Theory (3)
PHYS 589 Mathematical Physics Seminar (1)
PHYS 601 Selected Topics in Astrophysics (3)
PHYS 615 Plasma Physics (3)
PHYS 620 Optics (3)
PHYS 640 General Relativity (3)
PHYS 651 Quantum Mechanics II (3)
PHYS 680 Solid State Physics I (3)
PHYS 681 Solid State Physics II (3)
PHYS 690 Mathematical Physics (3)
PHYS 696A-C Directed Graduate Research (1-3)
PHYS 699A-F Independent Study (1-6)

3. Culminating Experience (1-6 units)

a. Thesis

PHYS 698C or PHYS 698F Thesis (6)

Students electing the thesis option must enroll in PHYS 698–Thesis (6 units total), write a thesis and pass an oral examination in the field of the thesis. The 6 units of Thesis may be taken as either PHYS 698C (3) taken twice or as PHYS 698F (6) taken once.

b. Comprehensive Examination

PHYS 697 Directed Comprehensive Studies (1)
Students not electing the thesis option must enroll in PHYS 697–Directed Comprehensive Studies (1 unit), which requires passing a written comprehensive examination. The exams will be offered during the Fall and Spring semesters. The dates will be announced in the preceding semester. For regulations governing registration for the thesis or comprehensive examination, see the department graduate advisor.

Total Units Required for the M.S. Degree: 30


Department of Physics and Astronomy
Chair: Damian J. Christian
Live Oak Hall (LO) 1128
(818) 677-2775

Graduate Coordinator: Miroslav Peric
(818) 677-2944

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will have:

  1. Knowledge of physical principles used to understand and model natural phenomena.
  2. Ability to convey physical concepts with mathematical expressions and effectively derive quantitative predictions from a model through mathematical and numerical analysis.
  3. Understanding of scientific methodology, which may include, for example, (a) data collection from observations, (b) setting up laboratory experiments and data collection from experiments, (c) analysis of data, and (d) testing a model or hypothesis.
  4. Competency using computational tools, which may include, for example, (a) use of scientific software for data analysis and presentation, (b) numerical analysis, and (c) computer simulations.
  5. Ability to communicate clearly and accurately physical concepts, findings, and interpretations in oral presentations.
  6. Ability to write clear, organized, and illustrated technical reports with proper references to previous work in the area.
  7. (a) For students selecting the comprehensive examination: comprehensive knowledge of the graduate core curriculum in classical mechanics, classical electrodynamics, statistical physics, and quantum mechanics; or (b) for students completing the thesis: ability to successfully carry out a program of graduate research and thesis.