Graduate Studies


"The caliber of faculty and staff coupled with the quality of education I received at Western prepared me for almost everything I have had to do since I graduated. My job involves RF data processing and analysis where I still make use of the techniques I learned while at the Department of Physics."  Akinloluwa Olomoroti, Senior Associate, Alliance to Save Energy, Washington D.C.

"The size of Western's Physics graduate program and the friendliness and cooperative helpfulness of its faculty made for an excellent learning environment...Collegiality and helpfulness among the students and faculty is a model I still hold up before my students even today."  Win Htwe, Instructor of Physics, Spoon River College

"Given the personal setting of the department, it was a great place to have direct interaction with the professors any time of day, either for homework help or for general advice."  Naveen Jha, ORISE Fellow, U.S. Food and Drug Administration


  • Thesis
  • Coursework
  • Internship

Program Overview

The Department of Physics at Western Illinois University offers a graduate program leading to the Master of Science degree in Physics. Our MS program is flexible enough to provide students—even with different undergraduate backgrounds— with the opportunity to prepare themselves for careers or further study in the field of physics. The program offers the advantage of a caring, small department atmosphere with very committed professors, and the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research projects that will prepare the graduate student for challenging Ph.D. programs in top research universities or competitive jobs after graduation. 

The Integrated Baccalaureate and Master’s degree program (IBMP) in Physics provides an opportunity for academically strong undergraduate Physics majors with a commitment to pursuing a career in physics or applied physics to complete both the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Physics in five years.

Why Choose Physics at WIU?

We continuously strive to revise and modernize our degree programs, to provide each student with the best possible preparation and an outstanding educational experience tailored to their individual needs. Additionally, the Physics Department at WIU offers a learning environment dedicated to excellence. We give each student the one-on-one attention they require to excel, thus creating a nurturing environment to help them fully realize their potential. Our graduate program continues to grow and thrive, being ranked #1 in the nation, for the 2015-2017 duration, by the American Physical Society for the number of M.S. degrees awarded annually in total and to the female students. We rely on a long history of teaching excellence and an enduring commitment to involve all of our students in the excitement and challenges of physics research. In our department, our faculty will know you individually, and you will share in the unique opportunity of shaping the future of our department and the field of physics.

Our Faculty

Our dedicated faculty members have cutting-edge research programs in experimental, computational, and theoretical atomic-molecular-optical (AMO) physics, experimental condensed matter physics, and observational radio astronomy. They all hold Ph.D. degrees from prestigious institutions located around the world, including Texas A&M University, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Illinois, the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the Indian Institute of Science, and Peking University (China). Furthermore, new and exciting research opportunities have been opened for all of our graduate students by the professional activity of our faculty and students.

Possible Careers

Students earning an M.S. in physics can look forward to graduate careers in applied sciences, engineering, medical physics, biophysics, atomic-molecular-optical physics, condensed matter physics, astronomy and astrophysics, and materials science. Careers in private industry or government laboratories, careers in business and finance that require quantitative analysis skills, and careers in technical consulting are also great possibilities for students ready to enter the workplace upon graduation.

Extracurricular Opportunities

Few job openings exist nowadays where experience is not required, which is especially true in the high-tech careers our graduates seek. That is why graduate student research is such a vital component of the educational experience in the WIU Physics Department. We offer opportunities for students at all levels to begin working with faculty on research projects that are of interest to the student and of importance to the scientific community. Whether you are interested in experimental, theoretical, or computational physics or issues in physics education, a faculty sponsor is available to mentor you in your studies. The department participates and organizes several outreach events throughout the academic year, where our graduate students take a leading role in showcasing the physics for students and common public. Participation in such activities allows the graduate students to develop communication skills that are a vital part of careers in physics.

Other Information

Our graduate students take an active role in the mentoring of our undergraduate students, in the staging of physics outreach demonstration shows for the general public, in assisting with visiting high school physics classes, and in holding departmental faculty/staff/student social events.

Some of our Graduates

  • Dr. James C. Gumbart, Associate Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Dr. Matthew Walker, Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Dr. Jun Pan, Distinguished Professor of Finance, MIT Sloan School of Management

Quick Links

Physics Department


Graduate Catalog

Quick View

Degrees Available:

  • M.S.
  • Integrated Bachelor's/Master's


  • Macomb

Required GPA:

  • Cumulative: 2.75 or
  • Last 2 years: 3.0

Admission Requirements:

  • Transcripts

Interesting Facts: Fall 2022

  • Currently enrolled: 12
  • International: 9
  • Minority: 1
  • Students with Assistantships: 8

Department Contact Information:

Currens Hall 212