The prerequisite for admission for a master’s degree in the Department of Physics and Astronomy is a bachelor’s degree in physics or a related field. All applicants for admission must take the Graduate Record Examinations, including the Physics Subject Test. Transcripts of undergraduate records as well as transcripts of any graduate level courses are required. The TOEFL or IELTS is required of international students applying for a teaching assistantship as well as for those applying for admission only. Applicants may be admitted as a degree candidate
at the beginning of fall or spring semester.
All MS and MA degree students normally take at least three courses for each of two semesters. A total of 24 units of credit is required for graduation. Admitted students may transfer a maximum of 4 units of credit to apply toward the degree requirements.
Foreign Language Requirement
There is no foreign language requirement for the MS or MA
Option A MS in Physics: The MS degree requires satisfactory completion of seven courses (exclusive of PHYS 500 and PHYS 594), of which no more than one course may be PHYS 590 Directed Research . In addition, satisfactory completion of a thesis (and 4 units of PHYS 594) is required.
Option B MA in Physics: The MA degree requires satisfactory completion of eight courses (exclusive of PHYS 500 and PHYS 590 ) plus a high level of performance on the comprehensive examination.
The required courses for either option are PHYS 504 , PHYS 508a and PHYS 558a . For either option at least five courses must be at the 500 level or higher and remaining courses at the 400 level or higher; at least five courses must be in physics. All required physics courses must be passed with a grade of B- or better. No upper-division courses required for the BA in physics at USC may be counted for credit toward the MA or MS degree.
All master’s degree candidates are required to take the departmental screening examination not later than during their second semester (excluding summer). This examination serves as the required comprehensive examination for the MA degree. A high level of performance is required for the MA degree, and a superior level is required for admission to (or continuation in) the PhD program.