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This degree contains elements of traditional physics programs and the application of physics to a diversity of critical societal problems. The program is divided into three areas of emphasis; see Requirements for details.

Many courses are offered during late afternoon or evening hours to allow students with full-time employment to easily attend. Students employed at area high-technology organizations may take up to 6 credits (out of 30) for work done on the job under the guidance of a faculty member. This employment-related research may be conducted under an optional 3-credit research project or an optional 6-credit master's thesis. Master's students who are not employed full time may apply for financial aid or a limited number of research assistantships.


University-wide admissions policies can be found in the Graduate Admissions Policies section of this catalog.

To apply for this program, please complete the George Mason University Admissions Application.

Individuals holding a baccalaureate degree in physics or a related field from a regionally accredited institution and who have earned a GPA of 3.00 (out of 4.00) in their last 60 credits are invited to apply for admission. If the baccalaureate degree is in a field other than physics, applicants should have taken several courses beyond the introductory physics courses, such as junior-level classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, or electronics. Applicants may be required to make up one or two deficiencies, based on a graduate physics advisor's assessment, and be provisionally admitted into the program. Three letters of recommendation must be submitted, preferably from former professors. The general GRE and the GRE subject test in physics are recommended for applicants who received their baccalaureate degrees within the past five years.


For policies governing all graduate programs, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Banner Code: SC-MS-PHAE

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 30

Students should refer to the Admissions & Policies tab for specific policies related to this program.

Emphasis Requirement

Select one emphasis and complete all the requirements therein.

Standard Emphasis

This emphasis is intended for students who may wish to pursue further graduate study in physics leading to a PhD degree in preparation for a career in basic research.

PHYS 684Quantum Mechanics I3
PHYS 685Classical Electrodynamics I3
PHYS 705Classical Mechanics3
PHYS 711Statistical Mechanics3
Select 9 credits from the following:9
Phys Interplanetary Med
Methods of Observational Astronomy
Planetary Sciences
Galaxies and Cosmology
Plasma Physics for Space and Astrophysics
Physics of Interstellar Media
Stellar Astrophysics
Computational Astrophysics
High-Energy and Accretion Astrophysics
Topics in Astronomy and Astrophysics
Computational Physics I
Solid State Physics and Applications
Modern Instrumentation
Nuclear and Particle Physics
Atmospheric Physics I
Physics of Modern Imaging
Computational Physics II
Thermodynamics and Kinetics of Materials
Fundamentals of Materials Science
Continuum Mechanics
Introduction to Biophysics
Space Weather
Quantum Mechanics I
Classical Electrodynamics I
Theoretical Physics
Computational Quantum Mechanics
Space Plasma Physics
Advanced Selected Topics in Physics
Quantum Mechanics II
Classical Electrodynamics II
Fluid Mechanics
Computational Fluid Dynamics I
Computational Fluid Dynamics II
Molecular Dynamics Modeling
Computational Materials Science
Simulation of Large Scale Systems
Total Credits21

Engineering Physics Emphasis

This emphasis allows students to select a larger number of courses from electrical engineering and other areas. 

Choose one of the following:3
Quantum Mechanics I
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics
Engineering Thermodynamics
Choose one of the following:3
Classical Electrodynamics I
Applied Electromagnetic Theory
Continuum Mechanics
PHYS 510Computational Physics I3
PHYS 533Modern Instrumentation3
or PHYS 613 Computational Physics II
Select 9 credits of graduate-level PHYS, ECE, CEIE, or MATH courses 19
Total Credits21

 Advisor approval required

Applied Physics Emphasis

This emphasis is intended for those who wish to apply the techniques and subject areas of physics to multifaceted problems encountered in the workplace, particularly in physics, engineering, computational science, and other related areas. 

PHYS 510Computational Physics I3
PHYS 533Modern Instrumentation3
PHYS 684Quantum Mechanics I3
or PHYS 502 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics
PHYS 685Classical Electrodynamics I3
or PHYS 513 Applied Electromagnetic Theory
Select 9 credits from the following:9
Topics in Renewable Energy
Protein Structure Analysis
Introduction to Computer Simulations of Biomolecules
Introduction to Physical Climate System
Introduction to Atmospheric Dynamics
Physical and Dynamical Oceanography
Atmosphere-Ocean Interactions
Land-Climate Interactions
Numerical Methods for Climate Modeling
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics
The Mathematics of the Finite Element Method
Statistical Methods in Space Sciences
Statistical Mechanics for Modeling and Simulation
Computational Quantum Mechanics
Modern Systems Theory
Introduction to Random Processes in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Sequential Machine Theory
Introduction to Optical Electronics
Semiconductor Device Fundamentals
Advanced Topics in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Or any course listed in the Standard Emphasis
Total Credits21


Select nine elective credits from the following: 19
Research Project
Master's Thesis
Research Project
Master's Thesis
Total Credits9

No more than 6 credits may be chosen from areas outside ASTR, CSI, ECE, NANO, and PHYS. 

  • Students may choose to take either PHYS 798 Research Project/ECE 798 Research Project or PHYS 799 Master's Thesis/ECE 799 Master's Thesis (6 credits), but not both. The research project may be conducted at a student's place of employment with the concurrence of a faculty advisor.
  • The thesis is a more substantial piece of work performed under the supervision of a faculty member and requires students to make an oral defense. PHYS 798 Research Project/ECE 798 Research Project may be taken only once. No more than 6 credits of PHYS 799 Master's Thesis may be applied to the degree.
  • Students in the master's degree program can earn the Data Science Graduate Certificate from the Department of Computational and Data Sciences by choosing an approved sequence of courses.

Physics, BS/Applied and Engineering Physics, Accelerated MS


This program allows academically strong undergraduates with a demonstrable commitment to research to obtain the Physics, BS and Applied and Engineering Physics, MS degrees by successfully completing 144 credits. Upon completion, students are well-prepared for entry into a professional school or a PhD program in physics or a related discipline.

Admitted students take selected graduate courses during their senior year and are able to use up to 6 graduate credits in partial satisfaction of requirements for the undergraduate degree. Upon completion and conferral of the bachelor's degree and with satisfactory performance (grade of 'B' or better) in each of the graduate courses, students are given advanced standing in the master's program and complete an additional 24 credits to receive the master's degree.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Application Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in the Graduate Admission Policies section of this catalog.

Successful applicants will have completed at least 90 credits toward their undergraduate degree and 45 credits in physics major coursework. The physics major GPA must be at least 3.50. One or more recommendation letters from one or more research supervisors are also required. Interested applicants should submit a letter to the undergraduate physics coordinator requesting admission along with the aforementioned recommendation letter(s). Contact the physics undergraduate or graduate coordinator for further details.

Accelerated Option Requirements

At the beginning of the student's final undergraduate semester, students must submit a bachelor's/accelerated master's transition form to the College of Science's Office of Academic and Student Affairs. Students must begin their master's program in the semester immediately following conferral of the bachelor's degree.

Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.00 or higher in graduate coursework.

Reserve Graduate Credit

While still in undergraduate status, a maximum of 6 additional graduate credits may be taken as reserve graduate credit and applied to the master's program. Reserve graduate credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree.