Master of Science in Physics

Master of Science in Physics

Push the Boundaries of Your Career

In today's tech-centric world, we need professionals who can ask big questions, are innovative problem-solvers and inquisitively dig deeper into a subject. This is what an MS in Physics offers you.

At Clarkson University, you will be able to focus your analytical and research skills to drive innovation. Expand your understanding of the fundamentals of physics. Learn how to apply your knowledge to broaden what we understand of the field. Leave with the technical mastery and research background that will open doors to doctoral programs, laboratories, observatories and private industry.

Why Earn an MS in Physics From Clarkson University?

Our program allows you to specialize in an applied research area in a way that aligns with your professional goals. The curriculum is flexible, giving you the option to deepen your studies with additional coursework or focus more on completing your own research.

One of the hallmarks of our department is the personalized attention we offer students. We keep our class sizes small, encouraging collaboration between peers. Your research advisor will provide comprehensive guidance, and you will further benefit from a friendly and open relationship with other faculty members. We value your input and ideas and treat you as a fellow scholar.

Despite our size, Clarkson offers the resources of a much larger university. You will have access to state-of-the-art research centers and have the opportunity to participate in team projects.

What You'll Learn

The Master of Science in Physics takes two years to complete. Students take up to 30 academic credit hours consisting of graduate coursework, a thesis and a seminar. By the end of your second semester, you will choose a research topic and a research advisor to help you fulfill a research or professional requirement.

You can choose from three options to complete your degree:

  • Thesis option: Defend a submitted thesis written on independent research.
  • Non-thesis option A: Conduct research for a professionally oriented special project.
  • Non-thesis option B: Successfully complete the Physics Comprehensive Examination within two years of graduate study. This is reserved for graduate students currently enrolled in our Physics PhD program who wish to receive a Master of Science degree while they work on their PhD thesis.

As for specializations, you can choose from the following:

  • Biophysics
  • Chemical Mechanical Planarization
  • Computational Physics
  • Physics Education

Credit Hours and Courses:

  • At least 30 credit hours of graduate coursework, with no less than 18 credits of courses (including the core subjects, PH661, PH663 and PH669), 6 credits of thesis (PH699) and 2 credits of seminar (must include at least 1 credit of PH683 or PH684).  Only 500 and upper-level courses are accepted. A maximum of 10 credit hours (B grade or better) may be transferred from a post-baccalaureate certificate program. A minimum of 19 credit hours out of the total 30 must be taken in physics (coursework, seminars and thesis credits).
  • At least one academic year of study beyond the B.S. While a typical program length is 2 years, all work must be completed in 5 calendar years.

Academic Standing and Other Requirements:

  • A cumulative GPA of 3.000 is required for graduation. Students with GPA falling below 3.000 will be placed on academic warning. These students will return to academic good standing if their cumulative GPA is 3.000 or higher at the end of the next term.
  • Students must identify a research topic and a research advisor by the end of the second semester of study. This requirement applies to both thesis and non-thesis (A & B) options.
  • Students must complete one of the research or professional experience components listed below.
  • Thesis Option: Students complete at least one of the core courses, PH661, PH663 or PH669 with no less than a B grade; AND defend a submitted thesis written on independent research. The thesis examination committee, composed of at least three Clarkson faculty, is appointed by the student’s department.
  • Non-thesis option A:  Coursework component – Students take all three PH661, PH663 and PH669 courses and obtain a grade of at least B in each. The student’s advisor may authorize, with the approval of the department chair, replacement of at most one of these courses with another appropriate advanced course for the student’s program (the B minimal grade requirement still applies). Project component – The student’s research (PH699) will focus on a professionally oriented special project. The completion of this project (a written report of the work) will be certified by their academic advisor in a notice to the Department Chair, and the student’s final report will be submitted to the Graduate School.
  • Non-thesis option B: Coursework component – same as that of Non-Thesis Option A. The Project Component of Option A will be replaced in Option B by successful completion of the Physics Comprehensive Examination within two years of graduate study.
    • Non-thesis option B is reserved for graduate students currently enrolled in Physics PhD program who wish to receive a Master of Science degree while they work on their PhD thesis.

For additional information about University Requirements, students should consult Clarkson University’s current Graduate Regulations and Graduate Catalog.

Program Outcomes:

After completing the Physics MS Program at Clarkson University, students will be able to:

  • Make use of knowledge acquired from core areas of Classical Mechanics, Electromagnetism and Quantum Mechanics.
  • Take part in collaborative project works with diverse teams of participants.
  • Analyze and solve advanced problems in Physics, utilizing complementary skills of mathematical and computational analyses.  
  • Interpret and effectively communicate technical information to experts as well as non-specialists.

Our faculty undertake innovative research in physics and interdisciplinary projects that help advance our understanding of the world. As a student, you will benefit from their mentorship and work closely with them in a collaborative and encouraging environment. Learn more about their experience and areas of specialization.

Meet Our Faculty 

The major areas of emphasis in our department include:

  • Astrophysics
  • Bio- and nano-technology
  • Biophysics
  • Diffusion
  • Energy storage
  • Materials physics
  • Nanoscale systems
  • Nanotechnology
  • Network theory
  • Physics education
  • Soft matter and polymer physics

As a student, you have access to centers like the Reynolds Observatory, the Physics Team Design Lab, the Laboratory for Electroanalytical Characterization of Materials and the Computational Laboratory. 

A complete application consists of the following:

  • Online Application Form.
  • Résumé.
  • Statement of purpose.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Official transcripts.
  • GRE test scores.
    • General GRE is required.
  • For international applicants, an English proficiency test is required.
    • Minimum test score requirements: TOEFL (80) and TOEFL Essentials (8.5), IELTS (6.5), PTE (56) or Duolingo English Test (115).
    • The English language-testing requirement is not waived based on language of instruction, nor do we accept university certificates. English testing is waived if an applicant has a degree from a country where English is the Native Language. Click here to see the list of these countries.

Prerequisites: Applicants must have a BS or equivalent degree in physics or a closely related subject. Applicants are expected to have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher at the time of application. Furthermore, applicants should have achieved a grade of "B+" or better in all physics and math subjects taken.

For those seeking Teaching or Research Assistantships:

  • A GRE score of at least 319 is recommended (minimum verbal score of 156 and minimum quantitative score of 163).
  • GRE Physics Subject Test scores are not required but are recommended.
  • International applicants should have a minimum score of 26 in each section of the TOEFL, 7.0 on each band of the IELTS (with a minimum Speaking band of 7.5) or comparable PTE or Duolingo English Test scores.

MS students interested in pursuing the PhD will be required to sit for the placement test offered by the Department of Physics. This is offered annually in August. This score, in addition to prior academic record, publications and teaching performance, will be considered prior to formal admittance into the PhD program.

We host a variety of seminars and lectures throughout the year with visiting professors, industry leaders and other professionals widely recognized in the field.

The program is held on our main campus in Potsdam, New York. Many of our full-time, research-based master's and PhD programs are housed here, as well. You will be in close proximity to research facilities, onsite laboratories and other resources.

Potsdam Campus

Career Possibilities

Our master's program will give you the rigorous preparation and research opportunities needed to pursue doctoral studies. However, you will also graduate with skills that are attractive to employers in the science and tech industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for physicists is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Whichever path you take, the MS in Physics can open doors to roles in:

  • Academia
  • Government
  • Observatories
  • Private industry
  • Research laboratories

Recent Employers

Our MS in Physics graduates are employed by many organizations, including most recently:

  • Epic Systems Corporation
  • GlobalFoundries
  • Jolly SEO
  • Marvell Semiconductor

| STEM OPT Eligible

Contact Us

Graduate Admissions
Phone: 518-631-9831

Interested in learning more about the MS in Physics? Contact the Office of Graduate Admissions today with your questions.

Find out more about the Physics Department.

99% Placement Rate - 2023 Graduate School Overall

Advance Your Career

Develop an area of expertise and gain research experience with an MS in Physics from Clarkson.