Feb 22, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Physics (M.S.)

Admissions Information   

Student Learning Outcomes  

Available Options for Degrees: A (thesis) and B (non-thesis). Option A requires a thesis based on research, while Option B substitutes additional coursework and a research paper/project for the thesis requirement. The non-thesis option is deemed appropriate for students who do not require Ph.D. preparation in physics in order to be successful in their careers.

Students should expect that completion of an M.S. degree take two academic years of full-time study. 

At least 50% of the total credits for the graduate program must be at the 700-level or above.

Program Overview

An advanced degree in physics will prepare you for positions in academia, industry and at national labs. You may pursue specialized research foci; the most significant goal of the program is to focus on research areas germane to the needs of the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF). Current research areas at SURF include nuclear/particle physics and particle astrophysics involving next-generation neutrino detection; double beta-decay, dark matter searches and gravitational wave detection experiments, as well as condensed matter physics concentrating on novel low background radiation materials and devices. Students who wish to specialize in analytics for large data sets will pursue coursework from the statistics/analytics and computing areas to include data mining, machine learning, database management, applied statistics and analytics programming. Learn more at usd.edu/physics.

DELIVERY: On campus

Master of Science, Physics-no specialization Plan A (thesis)

Major Area Coursework - 32 Credit Hours

Master of Science, Physics-Analytics for Large Data Sets specialization-Plan A (thesis)

32 Credit Hours Required

Major Area Coursework (17 credit hours)

Analytics for Large Data Sets Specialization Requirements (15 credit hours)

(15 credit hours is required from the following list of courses with at least 6 from Category A - Computing (either CSC 547 or CSC 761 can be used to satisfy the Category A requirement but not both) and at least 6 credits from Category B - Statistics and Analytics. At least 9 credits must be at the 700 level or higher.)

Master of Science, Physics-no specialization Plan B (non-thesis)

Major Area Coursework - 32 Credit Hours

General Application Requirements

  1. Completed application
  2. $35 application fee
  3. Official transcripts*
  4. Letters of recommendation*
  5. Statement of purpose
  6. Resume/CV*

*Requirements for admission vary by program and may require different documentation and have different deadlines. This list is not all-inclusive, to view specific program requirements and submission deadlines, follow the  “Admissions Information” hyperlink at the top of this page OR visit the specific program/dept. page found here: link.usd.edu/grad-catalog

Accelerated Master’s Program: BA or BS/MS (Plan A Analytics for Large Data Sets Specialization only)

Up to 12 graduate credits applied toward the B.S. program may be used to satisfy graduate requirements.

The following restrictions apply:

  1. Dual-listed courses taken at the 500-level can be applied to both the B.S. and M.S. degrees. Dual-listed courses must be taken at the 500-level.
  2. The student must apply to, and be admitted to, the accelerated program prior to taking courses to be credited toward the accelerated program.
  3. No courses taken prior to admission to the accelerated program may be counted toward an accelerated graduate degree. No exceptions to this policy will be approved.
  4. Courses that are “double counted” must be approved by the program coordinator for inclusion in the program of study prior to registration for the course or the credits will not be applied toward the accelerated graduate degree. No exceptions to this policy will be approved.
  5. Only courses taken at the student’s home institution are eligible for dual credit. No transferred courses from other institutions will be allowed to count toward the accelerated master’s degree.
  6. Students admitted to the accelerated M.S. Program may be allowed to register for all courses included on his/her program of study and these credit hours may apply to both undergraduate and graduate degree requirements.

State Authorization - It Matters Where You Live

If your learning placement course (internship, externship, clinical, rotation, practicum, independent study, study away, etc.) or your online course will be taken outside South Dakota, please reference USD’s State Authorization webpage.

State Authorization


Department of Physics
605-677-5649 | physics@usd.edu | usd.edu/physics

Graduate Admissions
605-658-6140 | gradadmissions@usd.edu  | usd.edu/grad