The department of physics seeks to provide the necessary physics experiences
via formal course work, laboratory training and research to give students the
requisite skills to be successful in any area where the knowledge of advanced
physics is a prerequisite. The program articulates the mission of the University
through emphasis on physics and interdisciplinary research. The department’s
goal is to provide research activities and courses of instruction in physics and
related areas to allow graduate students to be able to successfully enter Ph.D.
programs or the job market and perform well.
Students who complete the M.A. program in physics will:
- be able to demonstrate scholarship in the three fundamental areas of physics
(classical mechanics, electrodynamics, and quantum mechanics) orally as
well as in writing;
- be able to do independent research, consistent with a Master’s level of
- produce research publications in refereed journals and present results at
- produce a quality Master’s thesis containing publishable work; and
- be accepted into well-organized Ph.D. programs or receive quality job offers
before receipt of their degree.
The program is designed for students who 1) seek a terminal Master’s degree and
enter the job market or 2) desire to seek the Ph.D. degree. The program is
designed for highly motivated and well-qualified students who seek the highest
quality education possible. Because of the small size and the small student to
teacher ratio, staff members are readily available to assist students in their
educational growth. Students who think that they are not ready to enter the Ph.D.
program in the nation’s best universities will discover that Fisk provides an
excellent opportunity for the student to become fully competitive to enter such a
program. Students having the long term goal of pursuing Ph.D.-level studies in
physics and astronomy may participate in the Fisk-Vanderbilt joint Master's-Ph.D.
program. Students admitted to this program first complete the M.A. degree at
Fisk and, upon satisfactory completion, may be admitted directly into the
Vanderbilt Ph.D. program.
Appropriate preparation for admission to the graduate program in physics
includes completion of a minimum of 20 semester hours of prior study in
physics, including courses equivalent to Fisk's PHYS 122, General Physics II;
231, Introduction to Modern Physics; 262, Heat and Thermodynamics; 341,
Theoretical Mechanics; and 352, Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism.
Advanced undergraduate courses in light and quantum mechanics are
recommended in addition. A cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0
(on a four-point scale) or equivalent is also expected.
Students who do not possess all of these qualifications may, upon consultation
with the faculty, be directed on a course of study which requires them to
complete the needed undergraduate courses as soon as possible. Such students
usually require a longer time for graduation, and may need to enroll initially in
conditional graduate standing or as graduate special students.
In addition to meeting University requirements for the M.A. degree, graduate
students pursuing the degree in physics must normally complete:
PHYS 541 Advanced Dynamics
PHYS 542 Non-Relativistic Quantum Mechanics
PHYS 552 Electromagnetic Theory
In addition, the student is required to enroll for not more than six semester
hours of PHYS 591-592, Research in Physics.