The graduate coordinator or department chair shall assign to each incoming graduate student a temporary adviser, who shall assist in the selection of courses. During the first semester, the student is expected to discuss potential projects for thesis research with faculty members. By the beginning of the second semester, the student must have a permanent research supervisor. By the end of the second semester, the student must have filed a plan of study, selected a thesis topic, and secured two additional faculty members for the Advisory Committee.

Master of Science

Physics courses number 601-689 or 700-78910
Didactic courses numbed 601-689 or 700-78916
PHYS 790Graduate Seminar1
PHYS 798Master's Thesis6-10
Total Credits30

Students are required to attend all seminars and colloquia.

Accelerated Master of Science

PHYS 790Graduate Seminar1
Choose from the following:21
Optics for Scientists & Engineers
Optics for Scientists and Engineers Lab
Lasers for Scientists and Engineers
Elements of Photonics
Thermal and Statistical Physics
Materials Physics
Quantum Mechanics I
Quantum Mechanics II
Mathematical Methods in Physics I
Statistical Physics
Quantum Physics I
Solid State Physics
PHYS 798Master's Thesis6-8
Total Credits30

Students must meet all requirements of the Physics bachelor and master programs. For the master’s degree, students must earn at least 30 graduate credits, numbered 601-798, with these conditions: 

  • Up to 15 credits from this list may count toward the bachelor program requirements. It is recommended that students take the 600-level of PHYS 462/662, 481/681, 485/685, and 486/686 while fulfilling the requirements for the bachelor’s degree.
  • Between 6 and 8 credits are PHYS 798 (Master’s Thesis), with the goal to publish a paper based on the thesis research, although this is not a requirement to graduate.
  • At least one credit is PHYS 790 Graduate Seminar.

Doctoral Degree 

Required Courses16
Mathematical Methods in Physics I
Statistical Physics
Quantum Physics I
Solid State Physics
Graduate Seminar
Letter-graded courses number 601-689 or 700-78927
Doctoral Dissertation
Total credits90

Credits used to satisfy the requirements for the M.S. degree may be included in the total.  Students are required to attend all seminars and colloquia.

Preliminary  Examination

By the end of their fourth semester, students:

  • submit a report that summarizes their research results so far and details a research plan for the rest of their research work;
  • give a talk about their research accomplishments and plans; and
  • must pass an oral examination by the supervisory committee to confirm doctoral candidacy.

Students who pass the preliminary examination and, at the time of the exam, have completed 30 credits (16 of which are didactic) will earn a master's degree and be eligible to participate in commencement that semester. Students should choose the Ph.D. + master's option from the drop-down menu on the Doctoral Plan of Study and on the Notification of Scheduled Examination. After students have passed the preliminary examination, they should complete the exit survey and the graduation application

If the student fails the preliminary examination, they will be given the opportunity to repeat the examination in the next semester (this examination can be repeated only once). Alternatively, the student may elect to work for a master's degree instead.

Students should submit their doctoral thesis for examination at the end of their fourth year.

Warren Christensen, Ph.D.
Iowa State University, 2007
Postdoctoral: University of Maine, 2007-2009
Research Interests: Physics Education Research, Student Content Understanding, Curriculum Development

Yongki Choi, Ph.D.
The City University of New York, 2010
Postdoctoral: University of California Irvine, 2010-2014
Research Interests: Nano-Biophysics, Nano-electronics, Single-Molecule science

Andrew B. Croll, Ph.D.
McMaster University, 2009
Postdoctoral: University of Massachusetts, 2008-2010
Research Interests: Polymers, Diblock Copolymers, Thin Films, Pattern Formation, Mechanics

Alan R. Denton, Ph.D., Department Chair
Cornell University, 1991
Postdoctoral: University of Guelph, 1991-94; Technical University of Vienna, 1994-95, Research Center Julich, 1996-98
Research Interests: Soft Condensed Matter Theory, Computational Physics

Eric K. Hobbie, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota, 1990
Research Interests: Nanotechnology, Nanoparticles, Polymers, Optics and Rheology

Andrei Kryjevski, Ph.D.
University of Washington, 2004
Research Interests: First-Principles Numerical Techniques for Fermi Systems, Electronic Structure of Nanoparticles

Mila Kryjevskaia, Ph.D., Graduate Program Coordinator
University of Washington, 2008
Research Interest: Physics Education Research

Sylvio May, Ph.D. 
Friedrich-Schiller University, 1996
Postdoctoral: Hebrew University Jerusalem, 1997-98
Research Interests: Physics of Lipid Membranes, Biophysics, Ionic Liquids, Drug delivery

Kyle Strand, Ph.D.
North Dakota State University, 2022
Research Interests: Computational Soft Matter

Alexander J. Wagner, Ph.D.
University of Oxford, 1997
Postdoctoral: MIT, 1998-2000, Edinburgh, 2000-2002
Research Interests: Computational Soft Matter, Phase Separation, Diffusion, Interfaces Physics


Ghazi Q. Hassoun, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota, 1963
Postdoctoral: University of Michigan, 1963-65
Research Interests: Foundations of Quantum Mechanics

Daniel M Kroll, Ph.D.
University of Chicago, 1973
Research Interests: Theoretical and Computational Modeling of Complex Fluids and Biomembranes

Charles A. Sawicki, Ph.D.
Cornell University, 1975
Postdoctoral; Cornell University, 1975-79
Research Interests: Acoustics, Biophysics, Geophysics

Mahendra K. Sinha, Ph.D.
Pennsylvania State University, 1961
Postdoctoral: National Research Council (Ottawa), 1964-66
Research Interests: Field Emission and Field-Ion Microscopy Adjunct

Orven Swenson, Ph.D.
Air Force Institute of Technology, 1982
Research Interests: Laser Materials Processing, Optics Education

Adjunct Faculty

Khang Hoang, Ph.D.
Michigan State University, 2007
Research Interests: Materials theory, Defect physics, Solid state Ionics

Scott A. Wood, Ph.D.
Princeton University, 1985
Research Interests: Geology