M.S. in Physics

Physics (M.S.)

Grad student teaching a class in front of a blackboard

Why get a master’s degree in physics?

The M.S. degree gives you an understanding of physics’ basic theoretical structures as preparation for conducting cutting-edge research. You will learn to apply advanced research methodologies and facilitate deeper student thinking in the areas of electromagnetic theory, quantum mechanics, classical mechanics, and advanced mathematical methods. The graduate program in physics includes a capstone experience, which can be a master's thesis or project. Graduates of this master’s program are equipped for successful careers in research and development in business, industry, government and education/academia, and are prepared for doctoral programs.

Why choose UNH for your physics degree?

The Department of Physics offers excellent research opportunities for graduate students. UNH physicists are engaged in world-class research in applied optics, condensed matter, nuclear and particle physics, education, and high energy theory and cosmology. The Space Science Center fosters research and education in all the space sciences, ranging from the ionosphere to the Earth's magnetosphere, the local solar system, and out to the farthest reaches of the universe. In addition, UNH has just reached the top tier of research universities, Carnegie Classification R1, and our research portfolio brings in more than $110 million in competitive external funding each year.

Potential career areas

  • Academia
  • Education
  • Government research
  • Patent law
  • Private industry research/development
  • Renewable energy
  • Science communication


Department of Physics
DeMeritt Hall 237A
9 Library Way
Durham, NH 03824

Phone: (603) 862-2669
Email: physics.dept@unh.edu  

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Frequently Asked Questions

The graduate program looks for a Bachelor's degree with a strong undergraduate academic and research background, typically in physics, astrophysics, or space science, or similarly at the Master's level.  For international students, English proficiency is required, although this can be satisfied in multiple ways (TOEFL or equivalent, interview, documentation of attending an English language school).

Faculty look for students who will be able to be happy, healthy, and productive in their chosen research area.  The precise qualities otherwise vary by group, as some groups place emphasis on academic and mathematical performance, while others look for computational, hardware, or engineering skills.  Applicants are encouraged to provide in their personal statement an area (or areas) of interest, as then the applicant's skill set can be evaluated against what faculty in those areas value most.


All our graduate students are typically fully funded on teaching assistantships or research assistantships for the academic year as long as they are making appropriate progress in the program.  Summer funding is also typically awarded, but the amount varies by research group.

Late February to mid-March. Funding will be determined soon after the time of admission and the applicant will have full funding information well in advance of when they need to decide to accept or decline UNH's offer.

We do not generally accept late applications.  We usually have two waves of decisions made in March.

Curriculum & Requirements

The Physics M.S. program prepares students for a career in industry, education, or government. The curriculum encompassing core areas of physics as well as elective classes that can be chosen to match their area of interest. The M.S. degree includes a capstone experience, which can be a Master's Thesis or a Master's project (for students in the PhD program, the oral thesis proposal satisfies the capstone requirement).

For more details, please consult the physics graduate student handbook.


Please visit the Graduate School website for detailed instructions about applying to the program.

Degree Requirements

To obtain the degree, students must complete a minimum of 30 credits as outlined below.

Required Courses
PHYS 805Experimental Physics (or equivalent demonstrated experimental proficiency)4
PHYS 931Mathematical Physics3
PHYS 939Classical Mechanics3
PHYS 941Electromagnetic Theory I3
PHYS 943Quantum Mechanics I3
PHYS 806Introduction to Physics Research and Teaching (two semesters)2
Select one of the following options:12
Option A-Thesis: 12 additional credits including a 6 credit Master's Thesis PHYS 899 with oral defense
Option B-Project: 12 additional credits including a Master's Project PHYS 895 (up to 4 credits) with a seminar presentation
Option C-Exam: 12 additional credits of coursework and passing the written comprehensive and oral qualifying exams (for students in the PhD program only)

This graduate program is approved to be taken on an accelerated basis in articulation with certain undergraduate degree programs.

General Accelerated Master's policy, note that some programs have additional requirements (e.g. higher grade expectations) compared to the policy.

Please see the Graduate School website and contact the department directly for more information.

  • Students will master the theoretical concepts in advanced mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics at the graduate level.
  • Students will have an advanced understanding of the mathematical methods, both analytical and computational, required to solve complex physics problems at the graduate level.
  • Students will be proficient in experimental physics.
  • Students will have a specialized knowledge of their chosen field of research in physics at the level of a Masters degree.
  • Students will be well prepared for further graduate study in physics and related disciplines.
  • Students will be well prepared for advanced careers in a multitude of fields ranging from scientific and technical to financial.
  • Students will be able to present advanced scientific ideas effectively in both written and oral form.


Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: Jan. 15 (for funding); after that on rolling basis until April 15
  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer: N/A
  • Special: Spring admission by approval only

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: No

Accelerated Masters: Yes (for more details see the accelerated masters information page)

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH or Granite State College (GSC) after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester, UNH Non-Degree work and GSC. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must upload a copy (PDF) of your transcript in the application form. International transcripts must be translated into English.

If admitted, you must then request an official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to grad.school@unh.edu. Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts from all previous post-secondary institutions must be submitted and applicants must disclose any previous academic or disciplinary sanctions that resulted in their temporary or permanent separation from a previous post-secondary institution. If it is found that previous academic or disciplinary separations were not disclosed, applicants may face denial and admitted students may face dismissal from their academic program.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

GRE Optional

The GRE scores are optional, if you wish to provide scores please email the scores directly to the department once you have submitted your application online.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:

  1. Reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives.
  2. Your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program-specific application questions.

International Applicants

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

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