Degree Programs

The Department of Physics offers a full-time PhD program and full- and part-time programs leading to an MS degree, with opportunities for individually designed programs. Thesis research can be undertaken in any one of the department’s research specialties or in interdisciplinary areas such as materials physics, chemical physics, biological physics, or applied engineering physics. A further option allows cooperative research to be done at high-technology industrial, government, national, or international laboratories, and at medical research institutions in the Boston area.

The graduate program in physics is committed to providing an effective education to students with a variety of backgrounds and preparations in physics and related subjects. All graduate students receive considerable faculty and peer support. Approximately sixty graduate students are enrolled in the PhD degree program in physics.

The reputation of the department brings a constant flow of well-known visitors who enrich the department’s colloquia and seminars. Faculty and students enjoy close contact with their distinguished counterparts located at other universities, government laboratories, and high-technology research centers in the greater Boston area.

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The Physics Department offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Physics with concentrations in different subfields that reflect the forefront research activities of the department, including biological physics, condensed matter physics, and elementary particle physics. The program for the PhD degree consists of the required coursework, a qualifying examination, a preliminary research seminar, the completion of a dissertation based upon original research performed by the student, and a dissertation defense upon completion of the dissertation. Based on these measures, students are expected to obtain a graduate-level understanding of basic physics concepts and demonstrate the ability to formulate a research plan, communicate orally a research plan, and conduct and present independent research.

The PhD dissertation will be based on new and original research in one of the current theoretical or experimental research programs in the department, under direct supervision of an advisor from the Physics Department. Alternatively, the dissertation research can be in a recognized interdisciplinary field involving another research area of the University, under the direct supervision of a faculty member in that field. Another option is to work in an area of applied research in one of the industrial or high-technology laboratories associated with the department’s industrial PhD program. In that case, the direct supervisor is associated with the institution where the research is performed.

The Master of Science Degree

The Physics department offers Master of Science degrees with several options. The standard physics MS can be obtained by taking a specified set of courses without an MS thesis. Alternatively, an MS thesis may substitute for 8 credit hours of coursework. Both of these options may be pursued either full time or part time. Students are expected to have demonstrated a graduate-level understanding of basic physics concepts upon completion of the MS Degree.

Special Student Status

This program allows students outside the University to enroll in graduate level courses. Students must have a BA or BS, but do not necessarily need to meet the full requirements for entry into the graduate program. Special students are allowed to earn credit for a maximum of twelve semester hours. Students interested in taking more than twelve semester hours must make a formal application to the degree program.

Detailed Program Requirements

Additional information is also available about the Northeastern University Graduate Catalog.