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M.A. Degree

The goal of the Master Degree Program is to offer a superb graduate education that prepares you for either the challenges of today's workplace or the requirements of a Ph.D. program. To satisfy these diverse demands our MA program offers a great deal of flexibility ranging form an option focused on the needs for working in industry to an option that includes mostly advanced graduate courses.

The MA degree is offered both as an option without thesis that requires the student to pass the Compehensive Exam at the Master level, and as an option with a thesis that does not require taking the comprehensive exam.

The admission requirements for the MA program are a Bachelor degree in Physics or Astronomy with a minimum GPA of 3.25, a satisfactory GRE score and, for international students, an internet based Toefl score of at least 85 (or equivalent for different exam such as the IELTS).

M.A. Degree Requirements

An MA degree requires a minimum of 30 credits in Physics graduate courses. No more than 6 credits of comparable graduate courses taken at another university can be transferred . Transfer eligibility must first be approved in writing by the professor teaching the comparable course at Stony Brook and then by the Graduate Program Director, who will authorize departmental approval. Such credit transfers should be requested in the student's first semester at Stony Brook. The requirements for the Master's degree can be satisfied in two ways.

 

Requirements for the "Master Project" option:

  • Completion of a Master Project.The Master project is supervised by an advisor and has to be documented in the format of a scientific paper or a thesis. The Master project has to be defended before a committee of 3 faculty members, your advisor, an other faculty member inside your research area and a faculty member outside your research field. At least half of the committee (including the Chair) must be full-time faculty. The advisor cannot be the Chair of the committee. The committee should have at least one theorist and at least one experimentalist. Multiple authorship of a thesis is not allowed. There is no need to submit the Master thesis to the graduate school, but if it is submitted, it must be prepared in accordance with the guidelines presented in the university's "Guide to the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations."
  • Passing of satisfactory program of study approved by the Graduate Program Director. Normally such program includes two approved graduate courses and two semesters of the graduate seminar (PHY598 and PHY 599). The total number of credits with passing grades (which normally is B or better) including the Master Research credit should be at least 30.

 

Requirements for the "No Master Project" option:

  • Passing the written part of the Comprehensive Exam at the Master level.
  • Passing of Graduate Courses approved by the Graduate Program Director with a grade of B or better. The number of courses should be such that the minimum number of 30 credits is satisfied. An approved Program usually includes two semester of the Graduate Seminar (PHY598 and PHY599).

 

Tracks for the MA Program 

A MA degree requires a minimum of 30 credits in Physics graduate courses. In most cases this program can be completed in three of four semesters, but in exceptional cases of very well prepared students, it is possible to complete this program in two semesters and one Summer. Realistically, most students wanting to be admitted in to a highly ranked US PhD program will need to spend more than two semesters in our MA program to build a good case for admission.

Below we give four examples of approved course sequences for an MA degree. There is a great deal of flexibility, and depending on your interest, courses can be substituted by other physics graduate courses. The tracks below are designed for full time students with 12+ credits the first 2 semesters and 9 credits in the third semester, with optional 4th semester as needed. All programs of study require approval of the Graduate Program Director.

Tracks I and II prepare for admission to a PhD program. Track I is the default option which focuses more on research while Track II caters for well prepared students interested in theory. Doing more research has the advantage that your advisor will be able to write a stronger letter of recommendation.

Default Program for preparation for admissions to a PhD program with Master Thesis Research -- Track I

Undertaking Master thesis research is one of the best ways to prepare an application for a PhD program. It gives you skills that will make you a desireable recruit and provides your advisor with the insight they will need to be able to write you a strong letter of recommendation.

Semester 1:
PHY 511 Quantum Mechanics I (3 credits)
PHY 585 Special Studies in Quantum Mechanics (1-3 credits)
PHY 503 Methods of Mathematical Physics (3 credits)
PHY 599 or PHY 598 Graduate Seminar (1 credit)
PHY xxx Elective (3 credits)

Semester 2:
PHY 504 Computational Methods in Physics and Astrophysics I (3 credits)
PHY 505 Electrodynamics (3 credits)  
PHY 585 Special Studies in Electrodynamics (1-3 credits)
PHY 580 Special Research Project (3 credits)  

Semester 3:
PHY 595 Master Thesis Research (9 credits)  

Semester 4:  (if needed)  
PHY 595 Master Thesis Research (1 credit)  

Track II - Advanced Program for preparation for admissions to a PhD program with focus on theoretical physics

This track does not include a Masters thesis. It does require passing the comprehensive exam at the Master level. Students following this track should be confident that they can obtain good grades in demanding courses and pass the comprehensive exam.

  Semester 1:
PHY 501 Classical Mechanics (3 credits)
PHY 511 Quantum Mechanics I (3 credits)
PHY 599 or PHY 598 Graduate Seminar (1 credit)
PHY xxx Electives (5-6 credits)

Semester 2:
PHY 505 Electrodynamics (3 credits)
PHY 512 Quantum Mechanics II (3 credits)  
PHY 610 Quantum Field Theory I (3 credits)  
PHY xxx Elective (3 credits)  

Semester 3:
PHY 540 Statistical Mechanics (3 credits)
PHY 611 Quantum Field Theory II (3 credits)  
PHY xxx Elective (3 credits)  

Semester 4:  (if needed)
PHY 595 Master Thesis Research (1 credit)  

Track III - Program focused on practical skills with Master Thesis Research 

This is a good option if you are not sure if you want to pursue a Ph.D. or opportunities outside of academia.

Semester 1:

PHY 503 Mathematical Methods (3 credits)  
PHY 514 Current Research Instruments (3 credits)
PHY 515 Methods of Experimental Research (3 credits)
PHY xxx Elective (3 credits)  

Semester 2:
PHY 504 Computational Methods (3 credits)  
PHY 546 Python (1 credit)
PHY 598 PHY 599 Graduate Seminar (1 credit)
PHY 580 Special Research Project (4 credits)
PHY xxx Elective (3 credits)  

Semester 3:
PHY 604 Comptational Methods II (3 credits)
PHY 595 Master Thesis Research (6 credits)  

Semester 4:  (if needed)
PHY 595 Master Thesis Research (1 credit)

Track IV  - This sequence includes an advanced graduate certificate in Data and Computational Science

Note: This track requires a full time 4th semester

Semester 1:
PHY 503 Mathematical Physics (3 credits)  
AMS 561 Data and Computational Science (3 credits)  
JNR 501 Communicating Science I (1 credit)  
PHY xxx Electives (choose from PHY 501, PHY 510 / PHY 585, PHY 514, PHY 515) (5-6 credits)  

Semester 2:
PHY 504 Computational Methods in Physics and Astrophysics I (3 credits)
PHY 546 Python (1 credit)  
JNR 503 Communicating Science II (1 credit)  
PHY 580 Special Research Project involving computation (4 credits)
PHY xxx Elective (3 credits)  

Semester 3:
PHY 604 Computational Methods in Physics and Astrophysics II (3 credits)
CS xxx Elective in Computer Science (3 credits)
PHY 595 Master Thesis Research involving computation (3 credits)

Semester 4:
PHY 595 Master Thesis Research involving computation (6 credits)
PHY xxx Elective (3 credits)