Department of Physics

Graduate Program

(for the graduate brochure click here)

The Department of Physics offers a program of graduate study leading to the Master of Science degree. The program serves as preparation for a) further advanced study in physics or related fields, b) a career in government or industrial research, or c) teaching at the secondary or post-secondary level.

Physics Department Chairperson: Dr. Mark S. Boley
Graduate Committee Chairperson: Dr. Kishor T. Kapale
Office: Currens Hall 212
Telephone: 309/298-1596
Fax: 309/298-2850

Graduate Faculty

Mark S. Boley, Ph.D., University of Missouri-Columbia
James A. Rabchuk, Ph.D., University of Illinois-Chicago

Associate Professor(s)
Kishor T. Kapale, Ph.D., Texas A&M University
Pengqian Wang, Ph.D., Peking University

Assistant Professors
Esteban Araya, Ph.D., New Mexico Tech
Brian Davies, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Ryan T. Gordon , Ph. D., Iowa State University
P. K. Babu, Ph.D., Indian Institute of Science
Saisudha B. Mallur, Ph.D., Indian Institute of Science

Admission requirements

Students entering the program should have received their bachelor’s degree with a major in physics. At the discretion of the Departmental Graduate Committee, other students may be admitted to the program; however, they may have to remedy deficiencies in their undergraduate preparation. The Graduate Record Examination is not required in physics.

Applications for admission are accepted at any time, but decisions concerning graduate assistantships are generally made by March 1 for the following academic year.


Degree Requirements

Students must complete 34 semester hours of graduate credit including

    • Core Courses: 9 s.h.
      • PHYS 510 Classical Mechanics I: 3 s.h.
      • PHYS 520 Electromagnetic Theory: 3 s.h.
      • PHYS 530 Quantum Mechanics I: 3 s.h.
    • Select one of the following plans of study: 25 s.h.
      • Internship plan
        • PHYS 572 Internship Preparation: 1 s.h.
        • PHYS 578 Graduate Physics Internship: 8 s.h.
        • Directed Electives (Phys 577 not to exceed 2 s.h.) 8 s.h.
        • Oral report to the Graduate Committee following the internship is required.
      • Thesis Plan
        • PHYS 571 Introduction to Thesis: 1 s.h.
        • PHYS 601 Thesis/Thesis Research: 3 s.h.
        • PHYS 577 Special Problems in Physics: 4 s.h.
        • Directed Electives (Phys 577 not to exceed 3 s.h.): 9 s.h.
      • Course Work Plan
        • PHYS 528 Modern Optics: 3 s.h.
        • PHYS 555 Statistical Mechanics: 3 s.h.
        • PHYS 567 Mathematical Physics: 3 s.h.
        • PHYS 570 Experimental Techniques in Physics: 3 s.h.
        • PHYS 600 Seminar : 1 s.h.
        • Directed Electives (Phys 577 not to exceed 6 s.h.): 12 s.h.
Total Program: 34 s.h.

Only 2 (3 for five-year Integrated BS and MS) of the following 400-leel physics courses can be counted toward the 34 credit hour requirement

  • PHYS 410G Computational Methods: 3 s.h.
  • PHYS 421G Electricity and Magnetism II: 3 s.h.
  • PHYS 431G Introduction to Quantum Mechanics II: 3 s.h.
  • PHYS 468G Mathematical Physics II: 3 s.h.
  • PHYS 477G Special Problems in Experimental and Theoretical Physics: 1-4 s.h.

Course Descriptions

410G  Computational Methods.  (3)  Designed to introduce the student to basic computer techniques frequently used in the physical sciences and engineering. Applications of FORTRAN and/or MATHEMATHICA to programming of numerical and analytical calculations, data fitting, simulation of physical problems, and individualized work on problems chosen from the student’s field of interest.

421G  Electricity and MagnetismII.  (3)  Maxwell’s equations, plane EM waves in infinite media, reflection and refraction of EM waves, guided EM waves, radiation of EM waves, relativistic treatment of electricity and magnetism.  Prerequisites: PHYS 320, PHYS 467 or permission of instructor.

427G Advanced Electronics.  (3) Mathematical and practical treatment of electronic devices with emphasis on digital circuitry.  Prerequisite:  PHYS 327, equivalent.

428G  Applied Optics.  (4)    Geometrical optics, diffraction, interferometry, polarization, laser construction, optical materials, holography.  Modern optical techniques and instrumentation are emphasized.  Prerequisite:  PHYS 125 or 200.

430G Intro Quantum Mechanics I.  (3)  Atomic nature of matter, atomic models, introduction to quantum mechanics including the Schrödinger equation.  Prerequisite:  PHYS 201.  PHYS 311 and 320 are recommended.

439G Physics Methods.  (3)  Preparation for student teaching.  Includes analysis of objectives; new approaches; development of laboratory experiences, resources and utilization of instructional materials; test and evaluation; prestudent-teaching instructional experiences,  Prerequisites:  Graduate standing and permission of instructor.

467G Mathematical Methods of Physics I.  (3)  Vector analysis, matrices, determinants, infinite series, applications of differential equations, numerical solutions.  Prerequisites:  PHYS 201, MATH 333, or permission of the instructor.

468 G Mathematical Methods of Physics II.  (3)  Complex variables, orthogonal functions, special functions, general solution of partial differential equations in physics, Fourier integrals.  Prerequisite:  Physics 467.

470G Modern Experimental Physics.  (2) Laboratory experiments including both those fundamentals to the development of modern physics and those which illustrate modern experimental systems techniques.  Experiments ranging from measurement of the electron charge to the use of scintillation counters to detect coincident gamma-rays.  Other experiments including Hall effect, Faraday effect, Franck-Hertz experiment, and low-temperature experiments.  Prerequisite:  PHYS 201.

475G      (Title to be assigned by department).  (1 - 3)  Students should consult the department to determine which experimental course, if any, is being offered under this number during the current academic year.  Course content taken under this course number may not be repeated.  No more than six semester hours of credit earned in a combination of 475G and 675 may be used in any graduate degree program.

476G      Special Topics in Physics.  (1-4, repeatable)  Lecture course in topics of current interest are given under this number.  Topics based on the student’s previous training and interests.  Subjects announced in the class schedule.  Prerequisite:  Permission of the instructor.

477G      Special Problems in Experimental and Theoretical Physics.  (1-4, repeatable)  Individual investigations or studies of any phase of physics not provided for in the regular subjects.  Opportunity for undergraduates to engage in experimental or theoretical research under the supervision of staff member.  Prerequisite:  Permission of the instructor.

482G (cross-listed with CHEM 482 and BIOL 482) Science in Context.  (3)  Interdisciplinary course designed for middle and high school science teachers as well as students pursuing secondary science teacher certification,.  Students explore science as inquiry, the unifying principles of science, and the role of social contexts and ethics in science.  Prerequisite:  Graduate standing.

490G Seminar.  (2)  Reading, discussion, and criticism of selected topics.  Oral presentation and formal paper on a chosen topic.  Writing Instruction in the Discipline (WID) course.  Prerequisite:  ENG 280.

510  Classical Mechanics I.  (3)  Variation  principles:  Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of mechanics; applications to central force motion, dynamics of rigid bodies, and small oscillations.  Prerequisite:  PHYS 311 or equivalent.

511 Classical Mechanics II.  (3) Canonical transformations; Hamilton-Jacobi theory; Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations for continuous systems and fields

520 Electromagnetic Theory I.  (3) General solutions of boundary-value problems in electrostatics and magnetostatics, multipoles, macroscopic medica, Maxwell’s equations, conservation laws, plane EM waves, wave guides, resonant cavities.  Prerequisite:  PHYS 320, or equivalent.

521 Electromagnetic Theory II.  (3) Simple radiating systems, magnetohydrodynamics, relativistic electrodynamics, collisions between charged particles, radiation by moving charges, Bremsstrahlung.  Prerequisite:  PHYS 520.

528 Advanced Modern Optics.  (3) Diffraction theory utilizing Fourier analysis, transformation properties of lens systems, spatial filtering, information processing.  Prerequisite:  PHYS 428, or equivalent.

530 Quantum Mechanics I.  (3) Mathematically sophisticated treatment of the basic concepts of quantum mechanics.  The Schroedinger equation is applied to one- and three-dimensional problems, stationary perturbation theory, and other selected topics.  Prerequisite:  PHYS 430, or equivalent.

531 Quantum Mechanics II.  (3) Introduction to the abstract mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics.  Topics covered include operator formalism, time-dependent perturbation theory, scattering theory, spin, many particle systems, and identical particle systems.  Prerequisite:  PHYS 530.

540 Nuclear and Particle Physics.  (3) Selected topics in nuclear physics with emphasis on experimentally observed phenomena including nuclear forces, nuclear reactions, energy levels, nuclear models, decay of unstable nuclei, and an introduction to elementary particles

554 Thermal Physics.  (3) A survey of thermodynamic principles and the statistical approach to classical and quantum systems.  Applications to kinetic theory, transport phenomena, entropy, specific heat, and phase changes for systems of practical interest.  Prerequisite:  PHYS 354, or equivalent.

555 Statistical Mechanics.  (3) Study of classical and quantum mechanical distributions with Maxwell-Bolzmann, Fermi-Dirac, and Bose-Einstein statistics.  Topics include equations of state, electron and photon gases, liquid helium, and behavior of metals.  Prerequisite: PHYS 554 or permission of instructor.

560 Topics in Solid State Physics.  (3) A study of the electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties of crystalline solids, including lattice bonding, phonon dynamics, band theory, electrons in metals, semiconductors, and superconductivity.

567 Mathematical Physics.  (3) Distributions, Green Functions, complex variables, and special functions, ordinary and partial differential equations.  Prerequisite:  PHYS 468 or equivalent.

570 Experimental Techniques in Physics.  (3) Introduction to experimental research techniques including equipment design, machining, vacuums techniques, cryogenics, and practical electronics.

571 Introduction to Thesis.  (1) A course intended to familiarize the student with technical literature searches, selection of research areas, and thesis writing techniques.  Graded S/U.

572 Internship Preparation.  (1) A course intended to prepare the study for PHYS 578, Graduate Physics Internship.  Graded S/U.

576 Special Topics in Physics.  (1-4, repeatable) (multiple title course) Lecture courses in topics of current interest.

577 Special Problems in Physics.  (1-8, repeatable)  Individual problems in the field of physics are selected according to the interest and needs of the student

578 Graduate Physics Internship.  (8) A one-semester  on-the-job experience in an industrial facility or research laboratory.  Graded S/U.  Prerequisite:  PHYS 572.

600 Seminar.  (1, repeatable)

601 Thesis/Thesis Research.  (3) Graded S/U.

675  (Title to be assigned by department).  (1-4, repeatable to 6)  Students should consult the department to determine which experimental course, if any, is being offered under this number during the current academic year.  Course content taken under this course number may not be repeated.  No more than six semester hours of credit earned in a combination a of 475G and 675 may be used in any graduate degree program.

679 Overseas Study.  (1-9, repeatable to 18)  Course work undertaken as part of approved University overseas study program.  Prerequisite:  Approval of Study Abroad Coordinator and Department Chairperson.