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    University of California Merced
  Oct 20, 2017
2017-2018 Catalog

Physics, M.S.

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Chair: Linda Hirst,
Graduate program coordinator: Paul Roberts,

The physics graduate group at UC Merced offers individualized programs of study leading to a degree in physics. UC Merced’s faculty research programs are highly interdisciplinary, with collaborative faculty working in both emerging and established research areas such as condensed matter, quantum information, solar energy, atomic, molecular and optical (AMO) physics, soft matter and biological physics, and nanoscience. Students work closely with their assigned faculty committee to tailor their program of study leading to the degree.

The deadline for receipt of applications is January 15. Late applications are considered as space permits. Normally applications are accepted for Fall semester only. The minimum requirement for admission is a bachelor’s degree in physics or a related field of science or engineering with a grade point average of at least 3.0. The GRE general test is required and the subject test in physics is recommended. Admission decisions are based on undergraduate grades, performance on the GRE, accomplishments in undergraduate research, and letters of recommendation. Students from non-English speaking countries must take the TOEFL exam and are normally interviewed by telephone in order to evaluate English proficiency.

Master's Program Description

While the M.S. degree is offered, it is to be noted that admission is normally granted to students who intend to pursue a Ph.D. degree. Additionally, a Ph.D. student who meets residence and coursework criteria may petition to pursue a terminal M.S. degree. The normative length of the master’s program is two years and students may also choose to optionally pursue research for credit if a suitable advisor and project is identified. The recipient of a M.S. degree is understood to possess knowledge of a broad field of learning that extends well beyond that attained at the undergraduate level as well as professional skills for a variety of careers.

Master's Program Requirements

The Physics group has established the following requirements for the M.S. degree:

  • Complete at least two semesters of full-time academic residence (12 units minimum) at UC Merced;
  • Pass the preliminary examination;
  • Complete at least 24 semester hours of upper-division and graduate course work with a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.0. At least 16 semester hours must be from regular, letter-graded lecture or discussion courses, while the remaining 8 hours may be research or similar courses;
  • Pass a comprehensive oral examination administered by the faculty committee. This examination will test the student’s understanding of the main concepts in the field at the graduate level.
  • In addition, the M.S. program requires attendance at physics seminars and M.S. students are recommended to take research units (PHYS 295 ), attend journal clubs and group meetings to help fulfill their unit requirements.

Master's Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Physics Master’s program will:

  1. Possess a broad foundation in the fundamentals of physics and a deep understanding of their chosen subfield, which will permit them to understand and critically evaluate current research.
  2. Be proficient in professional skills necessary to lead a productive career in physics or a related career including ethical conduct in research.
  3. Communicate both fundamental concepts of physics and details of their own research effectively, in written and oral form, to expert and non-expert audiences.

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