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graduate degree programs

Graduate Advisor: Dr. Wilhelmus Geerts, wjgeerts@txstate.edu

For the latest information on our program check the College of Science 2013-2014 graduate catalog at: Graduate Catalog.

In order to be considered for scholarships, apply by the priority deadline February 15, however, applications will be accepted through June 1st (international students) and June 15 for (U.S. Citizens) for the fall semester and October 1st (international students) and October 15 (U.S. Citizens) for the spring semester. 

Degrees Offered

Physics, M.S.
Materials Physics, M.S.

Major Programs

Physics, M.S., Thesis Option.  The standard program that leads to a 30-hour Master of Science degree requires six hours of thesis, PHYS 5312 and PHYS 5331, nine to 12 hours in physics, six to nine hours in another science (mathematics, computer science, chemistry, or biology) or, if a no minor option is selected, six to nine hours in physics and/or other sciences with prior approval.  The Physics Department offers an especially strong opportunity for thesis research in experimental solid state and materials physics.
Physics, M.S., Non-thesis Option.  The 36-hour Master of Science degree program without a thesis is also available.  This optional program requires six hours of course work in lieu of the thesis and six hours of additional course work in physics.
Materials Physics, M.S.  The Materials Physics M.S. is a thesis only degree which stresses experimental materials physics primarily related to the semiconductor and other high tech materials industries.  The program leads to a 35-hour Master of Science degree in Materials Physics.  The Materials Physics M.S. degree requires six hours of thesis, PHYS 5110 (taken twice), PHYS 5320, PHYS 5324, and PHYS 5398.  In addition 18 elective hours must be chosen from PHYS 5312, 5314, 5322, 5326, 5327, 5328, 5329, 5331, 5370, with up to nine hours of free electives permitted (with prior departmental approval).
Research.  Research is an important component of our graduate program. The Department has several research concentrations.
The materials physics and thin film solid state groups are focused toward preparing Master’s graduates for professional employment, including the semiconductor industry and materials high tech industry, or further graduate study in a doctoral program. Thesis research may utilize thin film sputtering (magnetron and dual ion beam), molecular beam epitaxy, scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, high resolution x-ray diffraction/reflectivity, scanning probe microscopy (AFM and STM), magnetometry, resistivity, high temperature furnaces/ovens, ellipsometry, electric transport measurements, deep level transient spectroscopy, impedance spectroscopy, and photoluminescence. Competitive opportunities for industry internships are available.
The physics education research (PER) group focuses on embodied and participationist models of learning, including gesture, conceptual metaphor, conceptual blending, communities of practice, relational discourse, and identity development. These research areas are pursued through qualitative analysis of video records of interactions between students, environment, and teachers; quantitative analysis of standard conceptual and attitudinal surveys; and hybrid analysis of student written and graphical artifacts. Graduate study in PER prepares students for careers in K-14 physics education, and further graduate study in a doctoral program in either physics or education.
Other research groups focus on instrumentation development and theory. Theoretical focus is on the study of the physical properties of materials through computational simulations, either using first principles methods from density functional theory (DFT) or approximation methods within the effective mass theory, with an emphasis on semiconductors and oxides. Texas State also offers a Ph.D. in Materials Science, Engineering and Commercialization which has many collaborations with these areas.
A final research area consists of computational modeling of historical events in astronomy. The department maintains a small astronomical observatory (16" reflector) for student use.

Admission Policy

Regular Admission.  Unconditional admission is usually given to students who meet the University’s requirements for regular admission and who have in addition a 3.00 GPA or better on a 4.0 scale for undergraduate upper-division (junior and senior level) physics and whose programs include credit for upper division courses in modern physics, mathematical physics or equivalent, classical mechanics, electromagnetic field theory, and quantum mechanics.  Students who meet these expectations, but have a GPA between 2.50 and 3.00 and a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general score of 302 or higher on file in the graduate office when the application is considered, may also be granted conditional admission. If the GRE was taken within the last five years and prior to the new examination, the following preferred scores will be considered - 1100 (verbal and quantitative combined).  Students with course work as described above with a GPA below 2.50 may be granted conditional admission with the requirement that their GPA in their first semester of graduate work be above 3.0.
Conditional Admission.  Students who meet the above expectations except for credit in coursework for one of the areas specified may be granted conditional admission with the requirement of background course work to make up the deficiency.
Exceptions.  Students not meeting the expectations for regular admission or conditional admission stated above but who do meet the University’s requirements for regular admission may petition the department for admission.

Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Fellowships:

Assistantships are available on a limited basis.  Applications should be submitted by June 1. Inquiries and/or applications for assistantships should be mailed to:

Dr. Dave Donnelly, Department of Physics
Texas State University
San Marcos, Texas  78666-4616

Scholarships and Fellowships are available via the Graduate College. In order to be considered for graduate Scholarships and Fellowships, apply for admission by the priority deadline February 15, however, applications will be accepted through June 1st. For more details visit Scholarship page.

Graduate Courses

PHYS 5100 Professional Development. (1-0) This course is seminar-based and covers topics related to teaching, research and employment responsibilities. Completion of three hours of the course is required as a condition of employment for graduate assistants. This course does not earn graduate degree credit. Repeatable with different emphasis. Graded on a credit (CR), no-credit (F) basis.

PHYS 5110 Seminar in Physics. (1-0) A course designed to acquaint the graduate student with current research areas in physics. May be repeated twice for total of three semester hour's credit.

PHYS 5311 Nuclear Physics. (3-0) The study of radioactivity, nuclear structure, binding energies, and particle accelerators.

PHYS 5312 Quantum Mechanics II. (3-0) A study of quantum mechanics including combination of two or more quantum mechanical systems, addition of angular momentum, time independent perturbation theory, and time dependent perturbation theory.

PHYS 5313 Theoretical Physics. (3-0) A survey of methods in theoretical physics as they apply to areas in classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, and nuclear physics.

PHYS 5314 Statistical Mechanics. (3-0) A study of statistical mechanics including a brief review of equilibrium thermodynamics, fundamentals of statistical mechanics, transport processes, fluctuations from equilibrium, phase transitions and critical phenomena, and quantum fluids.

PHYS5320 Solid State Physics. (3-0) A study of electronic properties of materials using classical and quantum mechanical models. Included is an introduction to band theory applied to other properties of solids such as magnetism, dielectric functions, transport properties , and superconductivity. Prerequisites: PHYS 3312 and 4315.

PHYS5322 Semiconductor Device Microfabrication. (3-0) An in-depth overview of the physics and technology of VLSI and ULSI silicon semiconductor device microfabrication. Topics including electronic material preparation, thin film growth, silicon oxidation and etching, lithography processing, impurity diffusion, ion implantation and yield analysis will be covered.

PHYS5324 Thin Film Materials Laboratory. (0-9) An intensive laboratory introduction to the physics and materials fabrication and characterization. At the discretion of the instructor, laboratory projects introducing techniques such as sputtering, furnace/oven preparation, scanning probe microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive spectroscopy, four point probe transport methods, magnetometry, ellipsometry, and x-ray analysis may be offered. This course is preparatory for students seeking to apply for an experimental materials physics master's thesis project. This course may be repeated with permission from the instructor.

PHYS 5326 Electrical Characterization of Materials and Devices. (2-6) A laboratory/lecture course introducing electric characterization methods important to semiconductor materials and devices. Various measurement techniques and methods will be reviewed. Students will learn to work with industrial equipment. Prerequisite: PHYS2425.

PHYS 5327 Microelectronics Device Physics. (3-0) The application of solid state physics for describing important examples of thin film device operation with a special emphasis on semiconductor devices. Additional topics may include photon and phonon effects on electronic properties, quantum phenomena, many body effects in solids, carrier transport properties, micro-electromechanical systems, and materials interface issues.

PHYS 5328 Advance Solid State Physics. (3-0) Review of models of a solid and energy band theory. Additional topics may include interaction of electromagnetic waves with solids, lattice vibrations and phonons, many body effects in solids, device physics, quantum phenomena, carrier transport properties, current device configurations, and materials interface problems. Prerequisite: PHYS 5320.

PHYS 5329 Microelectronics Reliability Physics. (2-4) An introduction to the physical mechanisms governing the important failure modes of semiconductor integrated circuit devices and other emerging thin film devices. The application of material physics characterization techniques for detecting the signatures of these failure mechanisms will also be reviewed. Prerequisites: PHYS 5324, PHYS 5328, or instructor permission.

PHYS 5331 Electromagnetic Field Theory. (3-0) Introduction to electrodynamics at the graduate level. Topics include applications of special functions to problems in electrostatics and magnetostatics, time varying fields, Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic energy, Maxwell's stress tensor, radiation, and special theory of relativity.

PHYS 5340 Advanced Dynamics. (3-0) Classical Mechanics at an advanced level. Topics covered may include special relativity in classical mechanics, Hamilton equation of motion, canonical transformations, and Hamilton-Jacobi theory.

PHYS 5370 Problems in Advanced Physics. (3-0) Open to graduate students on an individual basis by arrangement with the Department of Physics. May be repeated with prior approval of the department.

PHYS 5395 Fundamentals of Research. (0-6) Course is available to graduate students only at the invitation of the department. May be repeated with prior approval of the department.

PHYS 5398 Industry Internship. (0-40) Supervised work experience in an appropriate high tech industry. Students will be required to keep a daily journal and make a final presentation (both written and oral) describing their accomplishments. Graded on a credit (CR) no credit (F) basis.

PHYS 5395A Thesis A. (3-0) This course represents a stuent's initial thesis enrollment. No thesis credit is awarded until student has completed the thesis in PHYS 5399B. Graded on a credit (CR), progress (PR), no-credit (F) basis.

PHYS5399B Thesis B. (3-0) This course represents a student's continuing thesis enrollments. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding. Graded on a credit (CR), Progress (PR), no-credit (F) basis.

Leveling Courses:

PHYS 5401 Classical Mechanics. (3-1) Fundamentals of classical mechanics focusing on the physical description of the behavior of single and multiple particle systems. Topics include advanced problem-solving strategies for systems with position and velocity-based forces, simple harmonic oscillators, non-inertial reference systems, gravitation and central forces, and rigid body motion. This is a graduate leveling course in Classical Mechanics (stacked with PHYS 3414). This course does not earn graduate degree credit. 

PHYS 5302 Electricity and Magnetism. (3-0) An introduction to the eletromagnetic field theory of classical physics for static fields. Topics included will be the electrostatic field, polarization and dielectrics, electrostatic energy, magnetic field of steady currents, magnetostatic energy, and magnetic properties of matter. This is a graduate leveling course in Electricity and Magnetism (stacked with PHYS 4310). This course does not earn graduate degree credit.

PHYS 5303 Quantum Mechanics. (3-0) An introductory course on quantum mechanics. Hamiltonian operator and Schroedinger equation, harmonic oscillator, matrix formulation of quantum mechanics, uncertainty principle, potential barrier problems, and the hydrogen atom. This is a graduate leveling course in Quantum Mechanics (stacked with PHYS 4312). This course does not earn graduate degree credit.

PHYS5404 Experimental Methods. (3-1) Experiments in modern physics, with emphasis on demonstrating quantum effects and introducing nuclear physics.