Requirements for Graduate Degrees
The following degrees and certificates are available in the MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy's graduate program. The detailed degree requirements can be found in the Graduate Handbook. For programs with components outside of the department, links to further resources from the relevant departments are provided.
- M.S. in Physics
- Ph.D. in Physics
- M.S. in Astrophysics and Astronomy
- Ph.D. in Astrophysics and Astronomy
- Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Physics
- Dual Ph.D. Degree in Physics and Mathematics
- Dual Ph.D. Degrees with Computational Mathematics Science and Engineering (see more details below)
- Dual Ph.D. Degree in Astrophysics and Computational Mathematics Science and Engineering
- Dual Ph.D. Degree in Physics and Quantitative Biology
- Dual Ph.D. Degree in Physics and Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Graduate Certificate in Accelerator Science and Engineering
A hybrid graduate program in beam physics is available in the Department, but follows the requirements for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics described in the handbook.
Graduate Certificates in other Departments that are popular by students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy are the following. Requirements can be found through the provided links.
- Certificate in Computational Math, Science, and Engineering (CMSE)
- Certificate in College Teaching
- See here for the corresponding CNS website with application and other instructions: https://natsci.msu.edu/students/future-students/graduate/certification-in-teaching/
- Future Academic Scholars in Teaching (FAST) Fellowships
The dual Ph.D. degree with CMSE is very popular. Here is some additional information about what is required to pursue this degree in terms of research:
According to the CMSE graduate handbook, section 5), for a dual PhD "The student’s dissertation must be composed of novel research that advances the state-of-the-art in algorithms or applications relating to computational and/or data science and must include significant intellectual contributions to both disciplines.” It is up to the guidance committee to assess whether this condition is met when proposing the research plan for a dual degree. The committee must have at least two members who are (joint) faculty in CMSE – one of those two must be primarily appointed in CMSE. It is not a requirement that one of the CMSE faculty serves formally as second or co-advisor and the involvement of a CMSE faculty member in guiding your research will depend on the nature of your research. However, you need to make sure that the assessment of the research plan involves the two CMSE faculty members
So, how does one assess whether a research plan qualifies for a dual PhD in physics and CMSE? Dual PhD projects with CMSE must have a very significant computational or data science component (i.e., the student spends a substantial fraction of their time on algorithm development, implementation, etc.), which generally includes at least one of the following:
- the development of a completely new numerical or mathematical algorithm
- the transfer of algorithms used in other disciplines into physics to solve a problem that would otherwise not be tractable
- the development of substantial new open-source software package that uses computational modeling, data science, and numerical and/or mathematical algorithms to advance their area of research.
Things that do not qualify for a dual PhD include doing modeling and/or data analysis using packages that were entirely written by other people (or making minor modifications to the same), or doing some work of the type described above that is only a minimal component of their dissertation. Re-implementing algorithms that are already used also falls into this category (i.e., writing a Python version of something that already exists in Fortran/C++/Matlab/etc.).
The guidance committee makes an assessment on the basis of the above guidelines, which is subsequently reviewed by the physics and CMSE graduate program directors, prior to submission for approval to the university.
For questions, contact the PA Graduate Program Director or the CMSE Graduate Program Director.