Degree of Master of Science in Physics

The main purpose of the Degree of Master of Science in physics is to prepare the student for further graduate studies leading towards the PhD. Although the physics department does not admit graduate students to work towards the Master of Science Degree, one can be awarded upon request to physics students who have completed the written and oral candidacy examinations. Alternatively, the MS degree can be awarded to any Caltech graduate student in good standing upon satisfactory completion of a program approved by the option representative that fulfills the requirements as listed in the catalog.

  • A Master of Science Degree in physics will be awarded upon request to physics PhD students who have completed the written and oral candidacy examinations.
  • Alternatively, a Master's degree can be awarded to any student in good standing upon satisfactory completion of a program approved by the option representative that fulfills the following requirements of at least 135 units of coursework to include 27 units of Ph125 abc or any quantum mechanics-based course; 81 units of physics electives; 27 units of other electives from physics or other options.

Before applying for a Master's Degree in physics you should have completed the following:

  • Two terms of Ph242 - Physics Seminar - This should be taken during your first year of graduate study.
  • Two written candidacy exams discussed under the basic physics requirement should be successfully completed by the end of your second year.
  • The advanced physics requirement should be completed by the end of your second year.
  • The oral candidacy exam should be completed by the end of your third year.

How to Apply for the Degree of Master of Science

For those students who wish to be formally awarded the Master's Degree at Commencement, follow these steps:

  • Begin the MS Degree process early in the academic year in Regis, any course or exam requirements you complete towards the MS degree during the year will be automatically added.
  • The physics option representative needs to approve your plan of study towards the MS and your admission to PhD candidacy.
  • Note that the deadline for submission for continuing PhD students is no later than two weeks before the degree is to be conferred at commencement.
  • In some circumstances a terminal Master's Degree can be awarded in physics. Note that you will be required to clear your student account before leaving Caltech. An exit interview in the Bursar's Office is also required.