Master of Arts or Science in Physics

A master’s degree in physics helps you bridge the gap between your college experience and an exciting career in science or science education.

Ranked among the nation’s top physics departments with the strongest professional master’s degree programs by the American Institute of Physics, our department will provide you with the powerful resources, research-oriented training, and personal attention necessary to make this so.

Our experienced and caring faculty will supply you with opportunities to master the intellectual theory and the problem-solving skills that make you competitive in sophisticated industrial and rigorous academic settings.

Our master’s programs—offered as a master of arts (MA) or master of science (MS)—can help you be a better teacher, prepare you for a career in industry, or assist you as you pursue a doctorate.

As a master’s candidate, you will have:

  • small class sizes
  • professors who are actively engaged in research
  • the opportunity to work on research projects

What It’s Like to Earn an MA or MS in Physics at Ball State


In our department, you’ll have the chance to work alongside your peers and faculty PhD experts on your choice of physics-related research concentrations.

Research actively pursued in our program includes:

  • astronomy and astrophysics
  • computational nanoscience
  • condensed matter physics
  • medical physics
  • nanomaterials and devices
  • nuclear and radiation physics
  • particle physics
  • physics education

Students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher are eligible to apply for teaching assistantships with the department or through the University’s Learning Center.

These positions come with a tuition waiver, a stipend, and eligibility for student health insurance through the university, among other benefits.

Our students also frequently support themselves through jobs with Ball State’s Office of Information Technology.

Through research projects, you gain valuable professional skills and experience working with modern technical facilities and equipment. These include the College of Science and Humanities supercomputing cluster, a new 20-inch diameter telescope in the observatory, and more.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is also a member of the SARA consortium that operates three research-grade telescopes located in some of the best sites in the world: southwest Arizona, Chile, and the Canary Islands. Our students (and occasionally high-school students) often make observations with these telescopes and become authors on published scientific papers.

Careers in education and outreach are fostered through the Charles W. Brown Planetarium on campus.

Our Society of Physics Students (SPS) is an active, student-run club that engages in a number of social and outreach programs.

The SPS organizes cooperative events with organizations on campus, including our annual “Clash of the Sciences” demo competition between physics and chemistry student groups.

Program Requirements

This program consists of 33 credits of graduate physics coursework in your choice of concentration (the MA or MS track).

Topics for research leading to an MA or MS degree in Physics may include:

  • nuclear astrophysics
  • condensed matter physics
  • electronic structure of materials and devices
  • observational stellar astronomy and galactic structure
  • fabrication and characterization of nano-scale devices
  • elementary particle physics
  • medical physics
  • physics education
Master of Arts in Physics

The MA program in physics will help students pursue further education in medical physics, planetarium, museum, teaching, and science technical writing.

This program requires you to write a research paper on a research project in physics or physics education.

An MS in physics is especially suited for those looking to go on to doctoral study or pursue careers in industry.

This program requires a six-credit thesis, which is normally a formal report on your research in some feature of experimental, theoretical, or computational physics, or physics education.

Credits Required

33

Courses

A few of the classes you will take may include:

  • PHYC 534 Thermal Physics
  • PHYC 565 Quantum Mechanics
  • PHYC 671 Classical Mechanics
  • PHYC 673 Electrodynamics
  • PHYC 675 Statistical Mechanics

For a complete list of all the courses you will take and their descriptions, please see our Graduate Catalog.

View Catalog

What Can You Do with an MA or MS in Physics?

Our graduates have gone on to attend PhD graduate programs at schools like Ohio University, University of Florida, Colorado State, University of Texas at Dallas, and Purdue, pursuing doctoral degrees in physics, astronomy, and engineering.

They also work in top-notch places like Intel, Experian, the Mayo Clinic, Cummins, and Argonne National Lab as:

Read about Our Alumni

Paying for Your Education

Tuition and Fees iconTuition

Not only do you get to learn from faculty who are leaders in their fields, but you can do so at one of the most competitive prices in the Midwest.

Department Scholarships

On top of the dozens of funding options offered through Ball State’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, our department awards scholarships to our own students. Find a scholarship.

Department Graduate Assistantships

A graduate assistantship is an excellent opportunity to gain meaningful professional experience while helping cover the costs of your degree. Learn more.

Ready to Apply?

Are you interested in pursuing this degree? Then you will need to meet our admissions criteria and apply.

More Information

If you would like to learn more about this program or about Ball State Graduate School in general, please complete our online form to request more information. Or if you’d like to speak with someone in our department directly by phone or email, please contact us.