Masters Program

The department offers two Master's degree programs, which typically take 4-6 quarters to complete. Plan I requires 32 quarter hours of graduate coursework and a Master's thesis. Plan II requires 36 quarter hours of graduate coursework and passing a comprehensive exam. There is no foreign language requirement.

The bulk of the coursework for both plans consists of the standard classes required of first-year Ph.D. students: classical physics (200ABC), quantum physics (215AB), mathematical methods (204AB), and statistical mechanics (219A). Plan II requires 4 additional units beyond this. Substitutions may be approved on an individual basis and may include a limited number of units of upper division undergraduate courses.

The physics department uses the Preliminary Examination as its comprehensive exam. The test is given every year in the fall before the start of classes and covers senior undergraduate and first-year graduate level physics. Normally students take the Preliminary Exam at the beginning of their second year. Students who do not pass on the first attempt may retake the exam the following year.

The department usually does not guarantee funding for Master's students. Students who wish to continue for a Ph.D. at UC Davis should apply directly to the Ph.D. Program.

Filing for a Master's Degree

You're eligible to file for a Master’s Degree if: you've passed the preliminary exam at the Masters or PhD level, you've completed the first-year grad classes or had them waived, you've completed at least 36 units of 200-level classes, and you don't have a Masters degree in physics from another university. If you don't meet all those requirements, you might still be eligible, but you should ask the Vice Chair-Graduate Affairs individually.

If you're continuing in the PhD program, a Masters is not a necessity. Mainly, it's required for anyone in an AI position, including lead DL instructors in Physics 7. In principle it might be useful if something came up and you needed to leave the PhD program so abruptly that you didn't have time to file for the degree.

To get the Master’s degree, you must have advanced to candidacy for the degree (see Grad Studies form GS314) and file the Masters Report Form GS315 with Office of Graduate Studies. See Grad Studies forms here https://gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/current-students/forms-information.

Both forms need to be signed by the Vice Chair—Graduate Affairs. Once you have departmental signatures, take the forms to Dutton Hall to pay the filing fee ($55 in 2015-16). Next, give the forms to the departmental Graduate Program Coordinator who will scan the one showing payment, just in case Grad Studies loses it. The forms will then be hand delivered to Graduate Studies by Physics Department staff.
When you fill out the list of classes on page 2 of GS314, include the first-year classes and any additional advanced classes needed to reach 36 units. You can include units from any 200-level classes, including colloquium or research units, but do not list any 300-level classes. For most of you, throwing in 295 or a 290 from your first year will be enough.