UAlbany physicists Jesse Ernst and Vivek Jain teaching a class.

Master of Science 


Program of Study


During your MS in Physics sequence chose a track toward either a thesis project or culminating exam. Whether you strive for a career path in physics, computer science, medicine or another area, or aspire toward enhanced research or a PhD, the physics curriculum at UAlbany will prepare you to be a leader in your pursuits.

You will take core courses in areas such as Statistical Mechanics, Electrodynamics, Quantum Mechanics, Computational Methods and Solid State Physics. Further, you'll have access to electives covering diverse topics like Cosmology, X-ray optics, medical imaging, electronics, particle physics, and general relativity and more.

Note: Non-degree students can transfer up to 12 credits to their degree program.  MS students can transfer course credits and requirements to the PhD program. 

See the Graduate Bulletin for details.

For more information email [email protected].

Physics students in a discussion group about dark matter
Master’s Thesis Option (30 credits)

Core Courses (18 credits)

  • Statistical Mechanics
  • Classical Mechanics
  • Electrodynamics 1
  • Quantum Mechanics 1

and two of:

  • Electrodynamics 2
  • Quantum Mechanics 2
  • Computational Methods
  • Solid State Physics 1

*with an average grade of B or higher

Research (12 credits)

  • Introduction to Research Problems in Physics
  • Master's Thesis in Physics

Master's Thesis

The final step to the Thesis-M.S. is the submission of a written thesis to the research committee, followed by a public presentation and defense. A thesis reports the results of a substantial research effort, guided by the research committee, usually chaired by the research advisor (or a physics faculty member if the advisor is from outside the department). You and your research advisor choose at least two other committee members, at least one of whom must be from the physics department. The department encourages interdisciplinary research, and exploration of multiple research topics. 

Research Skills

Demonstrated proficiency in an area such as:

  • Foreign language
  • Computer programming
  • Numerical analysis
  • Technologies (e.g., electronics)
  • Computational Methods course
Comprehensive Exam Option (32 credits)

Core Courses (24 credits)

  • Statistical Mechanics
  • Classical Mechanics
  • Electrodynamics 1
  • Electrodynamics 2
  • Quantum Mechanics 1
  • Quantum Mechanics 2
  • Computational Methods
  • Solid State Physics 1

Elective Courses

(6 credits approved by advisor) Sample courses:

  • Programming in Physics
  • Electronics
  • Optics
  • Introduction to Cosmology
  • Laser Physics and Applications
  • Medical Imaging
  • Astroparticle Physics

*with an average grade of B or higher

Research Skills

Demonstrated proficiency in an area such as:

  • Foreign language
  • Computer programming
  • Numerical analysis
  • Technologies (e.g., electronics)
  • Computational Methods course

Physics seminar

(2 credits distributed over two semesters)

Comprehensive Exams

There will be three comprehensive exams, each 3 hours long, offered once every year, typically at the end of the spring semester, the week after commencement.  An MS pass is lower than the level required for a doctoral pass.  The three exams are Classical Physics (classical mechanics, electromagnetism, including optics, radiation, special relativity), Quantum Physics (including standard applications to atomic, molecular, solid state, and particle physics) and Statistical and Thermal Physics (thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, statistics and probability including applications from solid state physics).


Participate in research projects with active faculty who are dedicated to advancing the field. You will have access to research groups that focus on quantum theory, particle physics, astroparticle physics, optics and biomedical imaging.

Additional research initiatives are related to experimental work on the ATLAS experiment at CERN, the LUX/LZ Dark Matter searches, theoretical studies of string theory and materials physics including X-ray and electron analysis.

A recent notable addition to the physics curriculum is Information and Computational Physics. Coursework around this topic focuses on problems like gathering useful information from complex data. This type of information can be applied to numerous challenges such as developing autonomous robots for space exploration, or better understanding the structure of quantum mechanics, electronic spectra and neurological function.

You will also have the chance to submit papers to peer-reviewed journals for publication and present your work at international conferences like the International Workshop on Bayesian Inference and Maximum Entropy Methods in Science and Engineering, and the symposium on Emergent Quantum Mechanics.



Student working on futuristic graphical user interface concept.


Career Outcomes

Continue your education through PhD programs, or begin your career in academia or industry.

Potential job titles include:

  • Scientific Support Staff
  • Data scientist
  • Research Technician
  • Software developer
  • College Instructor 
  • Applications engineer
  • High School physics teacher
  • Research scientist


Researchers working with technology
Performing the Physics of Electromagnetism

International Students

This degree is designated as a STEM program. International students maintaining F-1 status are allowed to apply for up to 12 months of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) following completion/graduation from their degree program. Currently, this degree program is also designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as an eligible degree for the F-1 STEM OPT work authorization extension; students who secure qualifying employment may be eligible to apply for the STEM OPT extension for a cumulative total of up to 36 months of F-1 OPT work authorization.

Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Option

If you’re a current UAlbany undergraduate student with at least a 3.2 GPA, you can save time and money by beginning your graduate degree coursework as early as your junior year. Up to 12 academic credits, billed at the undergraduate rate, will count towards both degrees – so you can complete your combined program in only 5 years and spend less than you would if you completed each program separately.

Contact your undergraduate advisor to see if you’re eligible and learn about your combined graduate program options.

Commencement stock photo
Admissions Requirements
  • Fall: Rolling
  • Spring: Contact the Department
  • Summer: Not Available

There is no departmental assistantship consideration for this program.

Required Application Materials
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of goals

The statement is generally one to two pages discussing what you have to offer the program and what you wish to get out of the program.  It should include a brief description of the applicant's field of interest, related background, desired area of study and research emphasis or career goals. 


Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.

Master of Science
  • Students will demonstrate either an ability to conduct supervised research or an advanced mastery of basic concepts.