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Master’s in Physics

The MA program in Physics at Fisk University seeks to prepare its students to be successful in any area requiring knowledge of advanced physics. Student preparation includes a variety of experiences, all of which are aimed at creating well-rounded critical thinkers.  The program is built on a combination of formal course work, laboratory training and active graduate-level research.

The program illustrates the mission of the University through emphasis on physics and interdisciplinary research.  The program’s goal is to provide research activities and courses in physics and related areas to allow graduate students to be able to successfully enter Ph.D. programs or careers in the sciences.

Students who complete the M.A. program in physics will:

  1. Be able to demonstrate scholarship in the three fundamental areas of physics (classical mechanics, electrodynamics, and quantum mechanics) orally as well as in writing;
  2. Be able to do independent research, consistent with a Master’s level of training;
  3. Be able to present their own research at conferences and produce refereed journal publications.
  4. Produce a quality Master’s thesis containing publishable work; and

Be prepared to enter a Ph.D. program in Physics or Materials Science, or enter the workforce as a quality job candidate if they so choose.

  1. Pre-requisites

  2. Requirements for the MA degree

  3. Courses

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 130 and 140, University Physics I and II; PHYS 231, Introduction to Modern Physics; PHYS 262, Heat and Thermodynamics; PHYS 341, Intermediate Mechanics; and PHYS 352, Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism.  Advanced undergraduate courses in light and quantum mechanics also are recommended.  An undergraduate 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 required to complete the needed undergraduate courses as soon as possible.  Such students usually require a longer time to graduate, and may need to enroll as a graduate in “conditional standing” or as graduate special students.

Graduate students pursuing the MA degree in physics from Fisk University must complete the following core courses, in addition to electives relevant to the student’s research:     

                                    PHYS 541       Advanced Dynamics

                                    PHYS 542       Non-Relativistic Quantum Mechanics

                                    PHYS 552       Electromagnetic Theory

The remaining didactic graduate course credits are made up of elective courses in a thematic area relevant to the Master’s thesis research of the trainee, upon the advice of their research mentor and the Director of Graduate Studies in Physics:

PHYS 501, ADVANCED MATHEMATICAL PHYSICS, 3 credits.
Mathematical methods of theoretical physics, including topics from intermediate and partial differential equations: Green's function, tensor analysis.

PHYS 541, ADVANCED DYNAMICS, 3 credits.
Variational methods, LaGrange's equations, Hamilton's equation, canonical transformation; Hamilton-Jacobi theory; classical perturbation theory.

PHYS 542, NONRELATIVISTIC QUANTUM MECHANICS, 3 credits.
Postulates of quantum mechanics and mathematical formalism; one-dimensional problems; the quantum mechanical harmonic oscillator; Heisenberg uncertainty relations; many-particle systems of bosons and fermions; symmetries in quantum mechanics; angular momentum and the hydrogen atom.

PHYS 552, ELECTROMAGNETIC THEORY, 3 credits.
Classical electromagnetic field theory; interaction of electromagnetic radiation with matter; conformal mapping.

PHYS 558, CRYSTAL GROWTH, 3 credits.
Theory and experimental techniques concerning the growth of single crystals. Will involve both lecture topics and laboratory work.

PHYS 559, MATERIALS CHARACTERIZATION, 3 credits.
This course is designed to acquaint the student with concepts and experimental techniques necessary to understand the mechanical, optical, electrical and thermal properties of materials as well as surface characterization techniques.

PHYS 581,: Special Topics Independent Study (Experiment), 2-4 Credits
Review of the technology involved in current advances in experimental physics. Students perform an experiment using low temperatures, high vacuum, advanced digital electronics and/or lasers. ( Burger )

PHYS 582, TOPICS IN THEORETICAL PHYSICS, 2-4 credits.
Theoretical treatment of selected topics from molecular, solid state, nuclear and/or elementary particle physics. Includes a survey of current state-of-the-art research in each area.

PHYS 583 or 584, GRADUATE PHYSICS SEMINAR, 1 credit.
Survey of the current literature and developments in physics; special readings and papers.

PHYS 591 or 592, RESEARCH IN PHYSICS, 3 credits.
Individual research work of an experimental or theoretical nature on problems approved by the department. This research may be submitted for thesis requirements. Students must take at least three credits in RESEARCH IN PHYSICS and no more than 6 credits in Thesis Research

PHYS 599, THESIS PREPARATION,  not for credit.
For students who have completed all regular course requirements but have not submitted an approved thesis.