The University of Mississippi
Department of Physics and Astronomy

Graduate Program

About the Program

The Lewis Hall and the Kennon Observatory.

At the University of Mississippi both graduate education through courses and graduate research training are very important. We offer M.A., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Atmospheric Physics, Condensed-Matter Physics, Experimental High-Energy Physics, Gravitational and High-Energy Theory, and Physical Acoustics, and we are the only institution in the state of Mississippi which grants the Ph.D. degree in physics. All of these research groups are very active and provide a competitive background for our graduates. In recent years we have had at any given time about 30 graduate students, in roughly equal proportions from the USA, Asia, and other countries.

Admission requirements for entering graduate students are based on scores on standardized tests (GRE and, for students from non-English-speaking countries, English proficiency tests), undergraduate academic performance (GPA), and recommendation letters, but we also try to make sure that there is a good fit between the students' interests and our research groups based on the applicants' personal statements. The department offers guaranteed financial support for all graduate students who are admitted and maintain a good academic standing, through a combination of teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and non-service Honor Fellowships, for the nine-month academic year, and additional sources of funding are usually available for the summer months.

Graduate Degrees

  • Degrees Offered:
    Master of Arts — M. A. (non-thesis)
    Master of Science — M. S. (thesis)
    Doctor of Philosophy — Ph.D.
  • Degree Requirements
    • Each entering student must take the preliminary examination (based on undergraduate physics) to aid the student and the graduate adviser in selecting a course of study. For master's degree candidates the exam is purely diagnostic. Ph.D. candidates are required to score better than 70 percent on the test before they can take comprehensive examinations.

      All students must teach laboratory or lecture sections for at least two semesters.

      Ph.D. in Physics (Online Catalog)

      A Doctor of Philosophy degree requires 54 hours of graduate course work exclusive of thesis credit, in a program approved by the student's advisory committee. A minimum of 36 hours of classroom graduate courses are required, of which up to 6 hours of credit in a related field, such as mathematics, chemistry, or engineering may be taken. 30 hours of the graduate course work must consist of courses in physics at the 600 level.

      A test of overall comprehension of physics at the graduate level is taken after two or three years of course work. It is common for a student to begin degree research before the comprehensive examinations are attempted, but the student does not become an official Ph.D. candidate until the examinations have been passed.

      To prepare for the examinations, Ph.D. students are required to take 6 core courses. Master's students typically take many courses from the core as well. Most students will also take Physics 551, Theoretical Physics, their first year.

      Core Classes

      Phys 609: Advanced Mechanics I Phys 627: Adv Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics I
      Phys 611: Quantum Mechanics I Phys 612: Quantum Mechanics II
      Phys 621: Adv Electromagnetic Theory I Phys 622: Adv Electromagnetic Theory II

      Additional Required Courses

      Phys 607: Atomic and Nuclear Physics Phys 625: Solid State Physics I

      Ph.D. candidates must present a prospectus of their proposed dissertation research for approval by their committee subsequent to passing the comprehensive examination.

      Students must recruit a professor to serve as research advisor for their thesis research, and must also form a faculty committee to guide them during the research. Ph.D. students must submit and defend a prospectus that outlines the research they propose. The prospectus cannot be defended until the comprehensive examination has been passed. Students are advised to defend the prospectus as soon as possible, for a student may not defend a dissertation in the semester of, or immediately following, the prospectus defense.

      Students may pursue research in any of the areas discussed earlier.

      M. S. in Physics (Online Catalog)

      A Master of Science degree requires 24 hours of suitable course work and 6 hours of thesis (Phys 697); at least 12 hours of the graduate course work must consist of courses in physics at the 600 level.

      M. A. in Physics (Online Catalog)

      A Master of Arts in Physics requires 30 hours of suitable graduate course work, at least 15 hours of which must consist of graduate course work in physics at the 600 level.

      For more information please see the complete graduate catalog at the academic programs web page.

  • Time Limits
    • Master's students must complete all work towards their degrees within six years. In addition, graduate assistantships for Master's students are normally available for three calendar years. In order to have their assistantships renewed, Master's students should be on track to finish all required coursework and pass their MA oral exam or MS thesis defense within this period.

      Ph.D. students must complete all requirements within five years of passing the comprehensive examinations. In addition, in order for their assistantships to be renewed, Ph.D. students should pass their prospectus defense within two calendar years of passing the comprehensive examinations, and complete all remaining requirements, including the written dissertation and its defense, within seven calendar years from their arrival at the University of Mississippi.

Research Areas:

Admission and Support

  • Admission Requirements
    • General Requirements

      All applicants for admission to the physics graduate program must submit General GRE scores (Physics subject GRE scores are optional), official undergraduate transcripts, two letters of recommendation and a brief Statement of Purpose. The SOP should not be longer than 1 page, and it should not be an essay indicating why the applicant is interested in physics. Rather, it should summarize any previous experience in physics research, areas of interest, and reason for applying to our program. Competitive GRE scores and an undergraduate GPA equivalent to a B or higher are required for admission.

      International Applicant Requirements

      All applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit official scores received from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). TOEFL & IELTS will not be required if the applicant has studied in a U.S. institution for 8 consecutive semesters (4 years), or obtained a Master's degree at a U.S. institution, or if they took 4 years of instruction at an institution outside the U.S., which has English as its medium of instruction.

      Full admission will be granted with the following TOEFL score: Internet Based (IB) 79, Computer Based (CB) 213, or Paper Based (PB) 550.

      All students with TOEFL scores of IB 79 to 99, CB 213 to 249, and PB 550 to 599 will be re-tested with The University of Mississippi English Placement Test prior to registration to determine if the student must enroll in an intensive English course such as English for International Students (IE 090/091) during their first semester of enrollment.

      Full admission will be granted with an IELTS score of 6.

      All students with IELTS scores of 6 - 7 will be re-tested with The University of Mississippi English Placement Test prior to registration to determine if the student must enroll in an intensive English course such as English for International Students (IE 090/091) during their first semester of enrollment.

      Competition for admission to the program is strong. International students who score less than 158 on the Quantitative GRE are rarely admitted, with scores higher than 160 being typical. Students with TOEFL or IELTS scores lower than the required ones for full admission are occasionally admitted on conditional status (please see the details in the Graduate Program Coordinators Handbook), but higher scores are usually needed.

  • Admission Process
    • Step One: Apply Online

      All applications are submitted through the University of Mississippi Graduate Admissions web sites: Apply Online Now

      Step Two: Supply Standardized Test Scores

      Provide the Graduate School with GRE scores and if needed the TOEFL or IELTS score. To report the GRE or TOEFL scores you'll need to supply the Educational Testing Service (ETS) the following information:

      • Institution Code: 1840
      • Department Code 808

      Step Three: Supply Official Transcripts

      Request official transcripts from all of your undergraduate and graduate coursework to be sent to the graduate school at the following address:

      Graduate School
      University of Mississippi
      P.O. Box 1848
      University, MS 38677-1848
      Attention: Graduate Admissions

      Step Four: Request Departmental Application Review

      Send an email request to the Graduate Program Coordinator ( gpc@phy.olemiss.edu ) for a departmental review of the application. The statement of research interests and letters of recommendation may also be sent directly to the GPC rather than uploaded to the university application site. Please include the student ID (not the application number) assigned by the online application site.

      Application Deadlines

      You can consider March 1st as a deadline for all materials for fall admission to be insured of full consideration. Admission is on a rolling basis and some applications are accepted after that date. Students are rarely accepted for spring admission. Consult your research group of interest before applying for spring admission.

  • Graduate Assistantships and Fellowships
    • Graduate students can support themselves during degree studies through a combination of the following programs: Teaching Assistantships (offered by the department), Research Assistantships (offered by individual professors with research contracts), and non-service Honors Fellowships (offered by the Graduate School).

      Virtually all incoming students are offered a Teaching Assistantship for the first year or two, as a full year of teaching is one of the degree requirements; some switch to a Research Assistantship afterwards. Current stipends for Teaching Assistants are $16,000 or $15,000 for the nine months of the Fall and Spring semesters, for PhD and Master's students, respectively. Assistantships include 100% tuition waivers, of both out-of-state and in-state tuition, and the University pays most of the students' health insurance costs. Many students also get $4,000 or more of summer support on departmental funds or research contracts.

      In addition, some students with very good qualifications will receive an additional Honors Fellowship in the amount of $3,000 per academic year (PhD students) or $2,000 per academic year (Master's students). Honors Fellowships are renewable and are reviewed annually based on graduate GPA and TA/RA performance.

    • Fellowship for Graduate Studies in Physical Acoustics
      • The National Center for Physical Acoustics (NCPA) is pleased to offer a fellowship to a qualified US citizen pursuing a doctoral degree in Physics or Engineering at the University of Mississippi with a thesis topic in Physical Acoustics. This fellowship will offer $10,000 each year for the first two years of graduate study to supplement existing departmental support. Approximately 40% of the award will be used to support the student on a summer research project at the NCPA. The second year of funding will be contingent upon a B or above in all first year classes and arranging for a summer project with a research group at the NCPA by the end of the first year. Selection of the NCPA Fellow will be based on an evaluation of a written application, a letter of recommendation, undergraduate transcripts, and an interview. This process will immediately follow the acceptance of the candidate into the graduate program. Applications will be due by the beginning of March and notifications will be made before March 31. More information about the NCPA, and NCPA Fellow applications, can be found at: ncpa.olemiss.edu. Questions, applications, and letters of support should be directed to Ms. Debra Perrier ( dperrier@olemiss.edu , 662-915-5889).

Additional Information

  • Graduate Courses
  • Graduate Student Listing
  • Graduate Student Achievement Award
    • The Graduate School awards up to a total of eighteen Graduate Achievement Awards each year for recognition on Honors Day. These include a maximum of two each from Accountancy, Applied Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, and Pharmacy, and six from the College of Liberal Arts. (In Liberal Arts, the two awards are given in each of the following three areas: Area A, which includes Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Philosophy and Religions, and Physics and Astronomy; Area B, which includes Art, Classics, English, Journalism, Modern Languages, Music, and Theatre Arts; Area C, which includes History, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology and Anthropology.)

      These awards are available to either masters degree seeking students or doctoral degree seeking students. Nominees would have to be enrolled during the current academic year (August and December graduates are eligible). Nominees must have satisfied all conditions of their admission and have been admitted in Full-Standing.

      Physics Recipients

      • 2002 Michael McGuire
      • 2003 Lee Coleman
      • 2007 Peter Sonnek
      • 2012 Philip Blom
  • Graduate Housing
  • Graduate Student Council
  • Physics Brochure (7 MB PDF)
  • Virtual Campus Tour.
  • AIP Career Network

You can schedule a visit to the department or request a department brochure from this address.