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Physics master of science degree

George Thurston, Ph.D., Graduate Program Director
(585) 475-4749,

Program overview

The MS program in physics is designed to provide flexible options that can be tailored to the specific career goals and disciplinary interests of students seeking graduate training in fundamental and/or applied areas of physics. The program is suitable as either a means to further career development or as preparation for further graduate study. Nationally, MS Physics graduates are highly employable across all economic sectors, spanning a wide variety of exciting opportunities within the private sector (especially in engineering and computer/information technology), in government labs and agencies, and in university level and secondary education.

Plan of study

The program focuses on providing advanced knowledge in core areas of physics. This includes electrodynamics, quantum and classical mechanics, and statistical physics, as well as one or more sub-areas of physics that correspond to each students' individual interests and career aspirations. Students work with the program director to develop a tailored individual academic plan that includes course work that supports these goals. Bub areas may include modern and quantum optics; lasers; computational physics; solid-state, materials, and device physics; soft matter and biological physics; radiation scattering spectroscopy; relativity and gravitation; and nanoscale physics. The program also include professional skills in organization and leadership, managing research teams, promoting innovation or sustainable technologies, entrepreneurship and intellectual property, finance and accounting, data science, scientific visualization, electronics, STEM pedagogy and education research, public policy, and communication skills. 


The program offers options in research or professional physics. The research option is research-focused and is intended to leverage each student's acquired physics knowledge in support of furthering the student's research training. Students will conduct research and produce a thesis as part of their studies. The professional option is designed to supplement advanced physics knowledge with a portfolio of electives in professional skills that can be tailored to each student's career goals. Students complete a graduate project.


Physics (research option), MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
PHYS-601 Graduate Physics Seminar I 1
PHYS-602 Graduate Physics Seminar II 1
PHYS-610 Mathematical Methods for Physics 3
PHYS-611 Classical Electrodynamics I 3
Choose one of the following: 3
   PHYS-630    Classical Mechanics  
   PHYS-640    Statistical Physics  
Choose one of the following: 3
   PHYS-790    Physics Research and Thesis  
     Physics (or closely related) Elective  
  Physics (or closely related) Electives 6
Second Year
PHYS-614 Quantum Theory 3
PHYS-790 Physics Research and Thesis 7
Total Semester Credit Hours 30

Physics (professional option), MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
PHYS-601 Graduate Physics Seminar I 1
PHYS-602 Graduate Physics Seminar II 1
Choose two of the following: 6
   PHYS-610    Mathematical Methods for Physics  
   PHYS-611    Classical Electrodynamics I  
   PHYS-614    Quantum Theory  
Choose one of the following: 3
   PHYS-630    Classical Mechanics  
   PHYS-640    Statistical Physics  
  Physics (or closely related) Elective 3
  Professional Electives 6
Second Year
PHYS-780 Graduate Physics Project 4
  Professional Elective 3
  Physics (or closely related) Elective 3
Total Semester Credit Hours 30


These lists are representative of the types of elective courses available to students in the physics program. Other RIT courses may be used as electives upon approval by the program director.

Physics (or closely related) electives
ASTP-760 Introduction to Relativity and Gravitation
ASTP-861 Advanced Relativity and Gravitation
CLRS-601 Principles of Color Science
CLRS-602 Color Physics and Applications
IMGS-616 Fourier Methods for Imaging
IMGS-619 Radiometry
IMGS-628 Design and Fabrication of Solid State Cameras
IMGS-633 Optics for Imaging
IMGS-639 Principles of Solid State Imaging Arrays
IMGS-642 Testing of Focal Plane Arrays
MATH-602 Numerical Analysis I
MATH-702 Numerical Analysis II
MATH-712 Numerical Methods for Partial Differential Equations
MATH-831 Mathematical Fluid Dynamics
MTSE-601 Materials Science
MTSE-703 Solid State Science
PHYS-612 Classical Electrodynamics II
PHYS-667 Quantum Optics
PHYS-720 Computational Methods for Physics
PHYS-732 Advanced Solid State Physics
PHYS-751 Soft Matter Physics
PHYS-752 Biological Physics
PHYS-760 Radiation Interactions and Scattering Probes of Matter
PHYS-789 Graduate Special Topics
PHYS-799 Independent Study
Sample engineering electives
EEEE-605 Modern Optics for Engineers
EEEE-689 Fundamentals of MEMS
MCEE-620 Photovoltaic Science and Engineering
MCEE-713 Quantum and Solid State Physics for Nanostructures
MCSE-702 Introduction to Nanotechnology and Microsystems
MCSE-712 Nonlinear Optics
MCSE-713 Lasers
MCSE-731 Integrated Optical Devices and Systems
MCSE-771 Optoelectronics
MCSE-889 Special Topics

Professional electives

Sample business electives 
ACCT-603 Accounting for Decision Makers
ACCT-794 Cost Management in Technical Organizations
BLEG-612 Legal and Accounting Issues for New Ventures
DECS-744 Project Management
ESCB-705 Economics and Decision Modeling
FINC-605 Financing New Ventures
FINC-721 Financial Analysis for Managers
MGIS-650 Introduction to Data Analytics and Business Intelligence
MGMT-735 Managing of Innovation in Products and Services
MGMT-740 Organizational Behavior and Leadership
MGMT-741 Managing Organizational Change
MGMT-755 Negotiations
Sample science electives
ITDS-611 STEM Education: Concepts and Practice
ITDS-613 STEM Education: Research Methods and Theory
Sample engineering electives
EEEE-610 Analog Electronics
EEEE-620 Design of Digital Systems
Sample liberal arts electives
COMM-705 Technology-mediated Communication
COMM-706 Crafting the Message
PSYC-716 Graduate Social Psychology
PUBL-630 Energy Policy
PUBL-701 Graduate Policy Analysis
Sample sustainability electives
ISUS-704 Industrial Ecology
ISUS-705 Technology, Policy, and Sustainability
Sample computing and information sciences electives
CSCI-603 Computational Problem Solving
CSCI-605 Advanced Object-oriented Programming Concepts
CSCI-610 Foundations of Computer Graphics
CSCI-620 Introduction to Big Data
CSCI-714 Scientific Visualization
CSCI-720 Big Data Analytics

Admission requirements

To be considered for admission to the MS program in physics, applicants must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Complete an RIT graduate application.
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree in physics, applied physics, or a closely-related discipline within the physical/mathematical sciences or engineering fields from an accredited college or university,
  • Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0/4.0
  • Submit official transcripts (in English), for all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation,
  • Submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. A minimum TOEFL score of 100 (internet-based) is required. A minimum IELTS score of 7.0 is required. The English language test score requirement is waived for native speakers of English or for those submitting transcripts from degrees earned at American institutions.

Additional information

Bridge courses

If an applicant lacks any prerequisites, bridge courses may be recommended to provide students with the required knowledge and skills needed for the program. If any bridge courses are indicated in a student's plan of study, the student may be admitted to the program on the condition that they successfully complete the recommended bridge courses with a grade of B (3.0) or better (courses with lower grades must be repeated).