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Graduate Program

Bachelor's/Master's Program

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a 3/2 Bachelor's/Master's program, in which students study for five years and receive both the Bachelor's (B.S.) and Master's (M.S. or M.A.) degrees.

Program Requirements

Students in the Physics and Astronomy 3/2 program must satisfy the College degree requirements for the Bachelor's (B.S.) degree in either Physics or Physics and Astronomy, as well as for the Master's degree in Physics. The Master's degree in Physics may be either under Plan A (M.S. degree), which requires a dissertation and an oral examination on the dissertation, or Plan B (M.A. degree), which only requires that the student pass the Department's Master's Comprehensive Examination. This is the same examination as the Department's Preliminary Examination; however, the candidate need only pass at the Master's level. It is expected that the student will complete the requirements for the Bachelor's degree by the end of the fourth year.  For either Master's degree, at least 30 credit-hours of coursework are required beyond those for the Bachelor's degree, with the following stipulations:

  • The coursework plan is subject to the approval of the student's Physics and Astronomy department faculty adviser. Note that many of the courses must be chosen with the Preliminary Examination in mind. The scope of this examination is defined by the material presented in a set of 400-level physics courses. At least 12 of the 30 credit-hours must consist of classes at the 400 level or higher.
  • For Plan A, 6-12 credit-hours must represent the dissertation research/reading.
  • At most 6 credit-hours may be reading course(s)
  • At most 10 hours may be transfer credits, including courses taken at the University of Rochester prior to graduate matriculation in the program (The regulations state that "Ordinarily, no course completed before the candidate has received the bachelor's degree may be included in the graduate program.'' This rule is waived for the 3/2 program.)
  • For more details see the Regulations and University Policies Concerning Graduate Study. The M.S. thesis defense committee includes three members, appointed by the Dean for Graduate Studies. These include the student's advisor in Physics, the student's external advisor (if not in the Department of Physics and Astronomy), and another faculty member. One of the committee members must be from a department other than Physics and Astronomy.
  • Exceptions to any of the above rules (and those in the Regulations document) must be approved by departmental Graduate Advising Committee or the collegiate Dean of Graduate Studies.

Admission to the Program

Students who wish to apply to the 3/2 program should do so in the Spring of their junior year (applications will be accepted during the Fall of the senior year, up to Nov. 1, but junior year applications are strongly preferred). Students should identify a faculty member who will agree to serve as advisor and, for Plan A students, will supervise the dissertation research (often the faculty member will supervise the student's senior thesis). Students should apply through the usual graduate studies application, with the following modifications:

  • Student should submit with the application a program of study, including classes to be taken and identification of the faculty advisor and research topic if applicable.
  • The GRE is not required at the time of application, but students are expected to take the GRE, usually during the Fall of the senior year.

The Graduate Admissions Committee will decide admission to the program based on academic records and letters of recommendation. Support for the fifth year of the 3-2 program is available in the form of a partial tuition scholarship at the level of up to 75% for qualifying students. Additional support in special circumstances may be available in the form of a tuition scholarship and/or a teaching or research assistantship.