The M.S. degree is research oriented and oral presentation of results is required. The M.S. degree may be taken with or without thesis. However, even if a thesis is not submitted, a student must work with a research group for at least one semester, in order to learn the research techniques in a field of physics or astronomy. If the research is theoretical, the student must also pass an advanced laboratory or electronics course, to gain experimental experience. The equivalent of one semester teaching experience is required of all M.S. degree candidates. The students are encouraged to obtain a M.S. degree on the way to a Ph.D.

Specific requirements:

  1. A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  2. A minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate course credit, 24 of which must be taken in residence. Upon approval by the Graduate School, up to six of the 30 minimum hours may be transferred from another accredited institution, or from UNC for courses taken before admission to the Graduate School, or from a different graduate program at UNC. At least 21 hours of course work must be in the Physics Dept. The M.S. Astrophysics track must include in addition to Astrophysics 701 a minimum of six hours from Astrophysics 519, and Astrophysics 702, 703, or 704.
  3. M.S. Written Exam. After the end of the Spring semester a student who does not already have a master’s degree in Physics or Astronomy and has not passed a similar examination elsewhere must take a comprehensive M.S. Written examination. The examination, which also serves as Part I of the Ph.D. written examination, is based upon the graduate student’s first year course work and covers Dynamics, Statistical Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics I and E&M I.
  4. Student may not register for M.S. thesis research (P993) until he or she passed the M.S. Written exam.
  5. The M.S. degree in Physics may be taken with or without a thesis. However, even if a thesis is not submitted, a student must work with a research group for at least one semester, in order to learn the research techniques in the field of Physics or Astronomy and give a formal oral presentation on his or her research. If the research is theoretical, the student must also gain experimental experience with one of the experimental groups. If the M.S. degree is taken with a thesis, a final oral defense is required in addition to the M.S. Written exam. The oral examination, given by three members of the graduate faculty, is concerned mainly with the student’s M.S. research project. For a M.S. degree with a thesis, major course work must include at least three credit hours of thesis registration (P993). A maximum of six credit hours of thesis registration may be counted as part of the required 30 credit-hour minimum for the degree.
  6. A minor is not required for the M.S. degree, but one may be chosen in accord with the regular graduate requirements for this option. Nine credit hours are required for a minor.
  7. The equivalent of one semester teaching experience is required of all M.S. degree candidates.
  8. A minimum residence credit of two semesters is required. Rresidence Credit refers to UNC-Chapel Hill registration (i.e., no transfer credit). All work credited toward the M.S. degree, except transferred course work, must be completed within a period of five years from the first date of registration in the master’s program.
  9. Each student must notify the Graduate School of their plan to graduate by submitting an application for graduation no later than the deadline shown on the University Registrar’s Calendar for the semester in which he/she expects to graduate.

Examinations for M.S. Degree

A student must be registered during the semester(s) in which the comprehensive examination(s) are taken. Registration is also required during the semester in which the thesis or master’s project (if required) is defended, submitted, and accepted by the Graduate School.

M.S. Written exam

At the end of the Spring semester a student who does not already have a master’s degree in Physics or Astronomy and has not passed a similar examination elsewhere must take the M.S. Written examination. The examination is based upon the graduate student’s first year course work and will cover Dynamics, Quantum Mechanics I, Statistical Mechanics and Electromagnetic Theory I.

M.S. Final Oral exam

The oral examination is concerned mainly with the student’s M.S. research project. The examination may not be taken until all course work is completed or until the final courses are in progress. A committee of at least three members of the Graduate Faculty evaluates the student’s work for the master’s degree, approves any thesis required and administers any oral examination that may be given. A majority of the people signing a master’s thesis must be regular members of the graduate faculty and at least two members of the committee must be in the Physics Dept. The committee normally is appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies. When a thesis is required, at least one committee member is named M.S. thesis advisor. If the student has a minor field of study, at least one member of the student’s committee must represent the minor program. If a final oral defense of the thesis is required, it should be held only after all members of the committee have had 10 days to review a draft of the master’s thesis. The thesis adviser is responsible to the members of the student’s committee for determining that the draft is in an appropriate form for their evaluation. If substantial revisions are necessary, they should be completed before the final oral defense is scheduled. The committee may, at the time of the final oral but no later, require alterations and corrections, but they should constitute relatively minor changes agreed to by a majority of the committee members. The thesis adviser is responsible for verifying that the changes required by the committee have been made and may delegate the responsibility to the committee member(s) who imposed the requirements. The vote of the examining committee is considered by the Graduate School to be final.

Exam Failure

A master’s candidate who fails either a comprehensive written or oral examination may not take the examination a second time until at least three months have elapsed. A student who fails an examination for the second time becomes ineligible for further graduate work. No student may continue in a program or take an examination a third time without approval by the Administrative Board of the Graduate School.