Master's Degree Program (Sc.M.)

The Physics Master's program is suitable as both a means for professional development and preparation for further graduate study.

The program offers enough flexibility to allow for the completion of the degree in two, three, or four semesters of full-time enrollment, depending on a student’s background. The program may also be completed with part-time enrollment over a longer period. The Brown Graduate School website contains the most up-to-date tuition and fee schedule for the current academic year.


Graduate Courses

For the most up-to-date and authoritative course information, please consult Banner and Courses@Brown.

A total of 8 credits in 2000-level courses form the main requirement for the Sc.M. degree in Physics.  Of the eight required courses, four will be selected from the six core courses of the Ph.D. program (PHYS2010, 2030, 2040, 2050, 2060, 2140).  Preparation of a Master’s thesis is highly recommended as it forms an important pillar of professional training.  Therefore, one of the eight required courses may be the preparation of the thesis. Three additional credits at the 2000-level are required.  These courses are to be selected from the remaining core courses or a large number of other upper-level physics courses.  Up to two of these can be taken in another department with the approval of the program director. 

Students with less rigorous physics backgrounds will be advised to take a mixture of 1000 level and 2000 level courses during their course of study, necessitating a 3 or 4-semester track to completion.

For recently admitted students, course selection and registration are in September after a faculty advising session during orientation.  Registration remains open for the first two weeks as a 'shopping period' for students to make final course decisions. 

The Department of Physics participates in Brown's 5th-Year Master's Degree option, allowing Brown undergraduates to continue at the university for a Master's degree after completing their bachelor's degrees. Up to two of the eight courses required for the degree may be completed while participating students are undergraduates. Courses used toward the undergraduate degree cannot be used for the Master's (no double-dipping). A minimum of six-semester courses must be taken while registered at the graduate level.

Students must apply for this program before they complete their undergraduate studies. Because the admission decisions for graduate programs are made at the program level, rising juniors and seniors who are interested in pursuing the 5th Year Master’s option should contact faculty in their intended programs. Applicants are not required to take the GRE.

Sc.M. Student Handbook

Applicants are expected to have a strong background in physics or closely related subjects at the undergraduate level. Two recommendation letters are required. The recommendation letters should be from faculty who are acquainted with the applicant's academic or research qualifications.

Testing Requirements   Apply Here

International applicants are cautioned to apply early to allow time for the visa application process, typically at least 3 months.

Tuition is billed per course and reflects the number of courses taken each semester with the full program comprising 8 courses. More information about the tuition and fees for Master's programs at Brown is available from the Graduate School and the Bursar.

Physics Master’s students are self-funded, meaning there is no departmental or university funding to support Physics Master’s students. Information about financing your Master's education at Brown, including estimators, calculators, and worksheets, can be found on the Graduate Student Funding and Support website.

PHYS 2010 Techniques in Experimental Physics

In the course of this semester you will perform six experiments which – when they were carried out for the first time, during the 20th century – led to important discoveries and shaped our understanding of modern physics. For many of the experiments, you would have won a Nobel Prize if you had been the first to do them. This laboratory course will give you hands-on experience with experimental techniques. In carrying out the experiments, you will encounter both random and systematic effects in your data. These effects are present in any experiment. Learning to identify, control and minimize these effects is an essential part of carrying out successful experiments.

PHYS 2030 Classical Theoretical Physics I

Basic Newtonian physics including scattering problems and accelerated coordinate systems. Lagrangian and Hamiltonian dynamics. Small oscillations. Green’s functions. Introduction to elasticity theory and fluid mechanics.

PHYS 2040 Classical Theoretical Physics II

Some topics covered: Electrostatics, Magnetostatics, Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism, Plane EM waves and wave propagation, Radiation by localized oscillating source, Radiation by moving charges.

PHYS 2050 Quantum Mechanics

Topics covered: Mathematical Background: Finite and Infinite Dimension Linear Vector Spaces, Bra-Ket Vectors and Operators; Fundamental postulates of quantum mechanics. Schrödinger equation in 1D: Reflection at a step, Reflection at a barrier and tunneling, harmonic oscillator, coherent states; Theory of angular momentum; Hydrogen atom, Spin ½ and two level systems.

PHYS 2060 Quantum Mechanics

Topics covered: Review of angular momentum and spin, Addition of angular momenta and tensor operators, Variational methods, Perturbation theory: time-independent and time dependent; Scattering theory; second quantization

PHYS 2140 Statistical Mechanics

The goal of PHYS 2140 is to gain an understanding of the role of classical and quantum statistical mechanics in the physics of systems in equilibrium with the environment and to develop the ability to solve a class of important problems in physics.