Master of Science - Physics
The purpose of the Physics M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are to prepare students for a career in Physics Research or in education at the university level. The program achieves this with a custom program for each student set up by their advisor and their advising committee. At the M.S. level students will learn to formulate, conduct and report on research, and in the case of Ph.D. the students will be able to conduct these steps independently.
For information regarding accreditation at UNLV, please head over to Academic Program Accreditations.
- Understand electromagnetic theory at the graduate level.
- Understand quantum theory at the graduate level.
- Understand mathematical methods for physics at the graduate level.
- Understand statistical physics at the graduate level.
- Perform an original research project at the doctoral level.
- Communicate scientific topics to a scientific audience.
- Possess strong background of knowledge in physics and mathematics.
- Solve doctoral-level problems in physics.
- Communicate the critical importance of physics in society.
- Possess the confidence and ability to be an independent thinker.
Students who obtain the Masters of Science Degree (M.Sc.) in Physics typically develop critical skills that are very beneficial to a wide array of professions. Such skills include but are not limited to: data analysis, computer modeling, data measurement, high technology awareness/familiarity/expertise, ability to conduct independent scholarship/experimentation, leadership, writing/communication proficiency, mathematical expertise, creativity (“thinking outside of the box”) and critical thinking/analytical reasoning. The level of skills will depend on the nature of their masters thesis project (e.g. experimental or theoretical) but in general, physicists are considered to be deep thinkers and problem solvers. They are thus aggressively sought out for high-level jobs in many areas of human endeavor. As the bedrock of all science, mastery in physics (which by necessity includes mastery in mathematics) gives students confidence and ability to solve a wide variety of problems that are critically and widely relevant to society.
Soon after obtaining their M.Sc., many physics students seek to enter a Ph.D. program in physics or in other related fields. If they opt to not continue their education, they can obtain limited faculty positions (e.g. visiting professor, professor-in-residence) in academic/degree-granting institutions - usually private and public four year colleges, professional schools and community colleges. These faculty positions are generally offered by physics departments but physicists can also be hired by chemistry, geology, materials science, atmospheric science, applied math, history of science, engineering, medical physics, and biology departments depending on their particular thesis project/field of expertise. Master-level physicists may also teach in K-12 educational institutions (public and private) with additional teaching certification.
Masters-level physicists can also obtain positions in national laboratories (e.g. operated by the Department of Energy, NASA, and also Department of Defense) as technicians/technical staff members working on projects associated with national security (weapons research), energy (e.g. nuclear and renewable energy and battery research), climate change, and many other areas of national interest.
Masters-level physicists are often hired by private companies in research- and leadership- based positions, many of which are technology-based (e.g. Raytheon and Tesla). Many of today’s technological innovations that drive our economy (e.g. the transistor, laser, x-ray machines, NMR/MRI, CCD cameras, microwave ovens, etc.) were developed by physicists who in many cases founded companies creating these technologies.
Many physicists with an M.Sc. have been hired by financial firms due to their proficiency in data analysis and market modeling/prediction.
Recent graduates from the UNLV M.Sc. program in physics have continued their education by enrolling in the physics Ph.D. program at UNLV. Others have obtained technical staff member positions at NSTEC and are enrolled in post-Masters training programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Some have also become commissioned officers in the US Navy and others have found employment in the public sector.