Graduate Degree Programs

Master of Science in Physics

The master's degree in physics is designed to give students advanced training in all fundamental areas of physics through formal courses and the options of some degree of specialization or participation in original research in one of a variety of projects directed by the department faculty.

 

Ph.D. in Physics and Applied Physics

The Ph.D. in Physics and Applied Physics combines the traditional elements of a science doctoral program with courses in specifically applied topics and internship in a technological environment. It is designed to produce highly trained professionals with a broad perspective of the subject which may prepare them equally well for careers in academia or government or industry.

 

Important Information

The Department of Physics does not provide financial support for master's students; only students in the Ph.D. program receive financial support from the department. Students cannot move from the master's to the Ph.D. track without a separate application and evaluation.

We begin reviewing applicants for admission for the Fall at the end of January. There is generally no admission of students to our Ph.D. program for the Spring semester. The dates given on the Graduate School webpage are generic, and the department has its own schedule. The initial round of offers can be made as early as February. Subsequent rounds of offers will be made until available positions are filled; therefore for full consideration, we recommend that prospective students apply by February 28.

Even though application is made through the UTA Office of Admissions, all admission decisions for the Ph.D. in Physics are made by the Physics Graduate Admissions Committee, which is composed of department professors. Each year we typically have about 150 applications, and our incoming graduate class is around 10 students, so admission is competitive. Each application is judged in comparison to applications for that year. The department does not require the Physics GRE. Typically students who receive offers were in the top 20 percent of their class at their previous institution and had strong letters of recommendation from faculty. We also take into account the quality of the previous institution when evaluating relative rankings. We want to make sure that we only admit students strong enough to succeed in our program.

All students admitted to the Ph.D. program are supported with a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) position, which provides a stipend of $18,000 for nine months (minus deductions for health insurance) and a scholarship that pays 85 percent of tuition (the remaining tuition, about $1,500, is paid by the student). We also provide support for the summer, though the amount varies. Many students receive more than this level of support through various departmental grants and scholarships. Students generally transition to a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) position once they begin their research. The GRA is paid by the faculty research advisor’s grant, and this pays the entire tuition, plus the stipend (the exact amount is set by the professor, but it is about the same as the GTA). Students in good academic standing will receive support in the form of a GRA or GTA until they finish the Ph.D. Good academic standing is defined as:

  • Maintaining a B average or better in all courses - a GPA of less than 3.0 is cause for academic probation.
  • Passing all four department qualifying exams before the end of the second year. There are four exams, each three hours long, taken over two days (Electricity and Magnetism, Classical Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics). Students have two opportunities to take each exam. If all four are not passed after two attempts, the student is dismissed from the program (there may be an additional oral exam if the student is close to, but not passing, so there can be a third chance). Incoming students can take all four qualifying exams in August when they arrive. Passing an exam counts, but failing an exam does not, so we advise all students to take the exams to get a sense of the level (upper division/beginning graduate) of the exams.
  • Having your faculty research advisor certify that adequate progress is being made toward the Ph.D. 

We do our best to support students so that they can be successful. About 80 percent of students admitted to our program complete their Ph.D. degree. Time to degree varies across the research groups in the department, but the average is about six years (as short as four, and long as seven). Students entering with a master's degree may have some required courses waived if they took the equivalent course at another institution. That determination is made by the graduate advisor.

Applicants should review the department website carefully to determine what kinds of research are being conducted to make certain that their interests correspond with the work being conducted at UTA. It is also advisable to contact professors in areas of interest to find out if they expect to have an opening for a graduate student in the year after next. Sometimes the professor knows if they will or will not be adding a student to their lab group. In addition to academic factors, the Physics Graduate Admissions Committee takes into account the research needs of the department when looking at student applications as part of our effort to have balance and diversity in our admissions. The statement of interest that students write as part of the application is considered in that context.

Prospective graduate students, please see Instructions for Graduate Student Applicants, or Instructions for International Graduate Student Applicants, and submit your application through ApplyTexas.