Graduate Program

NMT Physics Course Catalog (pdf) |  Apply to Our Graduate Program

Frequently Asked Questions can be read here

Contact the Department if the FAQ doesn’t help to answer your initial questions.

Preliminary Examination

All graduate candidates must pass a preliminary examination, within a timeline dependent upon their undergraduate preparation and the degree being sought.

We have a new 5 year B.S./M.S. degree in the Department

B.S. students in the first semester of their Junior year in the department should consider applying for
the B.S./M.S., which can be combined with concentrations or double-majors as well.  If admitted, you
can start research toward an M.S. during your Senior year with us, and are eligible for TA/RA funding
during the 5th year while you attain your M.S. in Physics.

Master’s Programs

Master of Science in Physics

The Master of Science degree in Physics may be earned under either of the following plans:

With Thesis
The students course of study must be approved by the students advisory committee and must fulfill the general requirements for the masters degree with thesis and must include a minimum of 9 credit hours selected from: PHYS 505, 508, 513, 514, 515, 516, 526.

All students must complete PHYS 501 and 502 in their first two semesters.

PHYS 579 (1), Graduate-Faculty Seminar, must be taken for the first four semesters.

The preliminary examination will cover courses in physics and mathematics normally included in the undergraduate physics curriculum. Thesis topics will be chosen in consultation with an advisory committee.

Without Thesis
Courses approved by the students advisor must fulfill the general requirements for the masters degree without thesis and must include the following:

  • All students must complete PHYS 501 (1), and 502 (1) in their first two semesters.
  • PHYS 590 (3)
  • a minimum of 9 credit hours selected from: PHYS 505, 508, 513, 514, 515, 516, 526.
  • PHYS 579 (1), Graduate-Faculty Seminar, must be taken for the first four semesters.

The preliminary examination will cover courses in physics and mathematics normally included in the undergraduate physics curriculum.

Master of Science in Physics with Specialty in Instrumentation

Students entering this M.S. program should have a bachelors degree in engineering, one of the sciences, mathematics, or computer science. Students will also be expected to complete at Tech basic undergraduate physics and electronics courses they have not had.

Given the varied backgrounds and interests of students in this specialty, the program of study is tailored to each students needs. The flexibility needed to do this is evident in the following requirements:

Credits
9 Graduate physics courses approved by the students advisory committee
3 EE 322, 322L (Advanced Electronics)
4 EE 451, 451L (Digital Signal Processing)
3 MATH 587 (Time Series)
6 At least two of the following:
• EE 341, 342 (Linear Systems)
• EE 443 (Control Theory)
• EE 446 (Communications Theory)
• CS 331, 432 (Computer Architecture, VLSI)
• PHYS 565 (Astronomical Techniques)
3 Graduate course approved by the advisory committee
3 PHYS 590 (Independent Study)
32 Total credit hours

PHYS 579(1), Graduate Faculty-Seminar, must be taken for the first four semesters. In addition to the above requirements, students must satisfy the general requirements for the M.S. degree and pass a preliminary examination on undergraduate physics and electronics.

Doctoral Programs

Students of exceptional ability as demonstrated in previous courses in physics and mathematics, or in the preliminary examination, may pursue a program leading to the doctoral degree. All applicants to the physics doctoral degree program must submit GRE general and physics subject test scores.

The major doctoral programs of the Physics Department are in astrophysics and atmospheric physics. A degree in mathematical physics is offered in cooperation with the mathematics department. Students may also work in other areas of physics in which the department has expertise.

The following general requirements apply to all curricula: A minimum of 50 credit hours of graduate and upper-division courses approved by the students committee should be taken, of which 12 credit hours must be mathematics beyond that required of an undergraduate physics major. PHYS 501 and 502 (where required below) may be waived for those students who have completed the equivalent through an experimental masters thesis. PHYS 579, Graduate Faculty Seminar, must be taken for the first four semesters.

Doctor of Philosophy in Physics with Dissertation in Astrophysics

Current areas of research in astrophysics include quasars, pulsars, and radio galaxies, X-ray astronomy, solar and stellar activity, plasma astrophysics, and comets. New Mexico Tech operates the Magdalena Ridge Observatory (MRO) and also takes advantage of the proximity of the facilities of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). Students may pursue dissertation work not only with regular faculty but also with a number of NRAO staff who have adjunct appointments at Tech.

The following courses must be completed: PHYS 501 (1), 502 (1), 505 or 526 (3), 513 (3), 514 (3), 515 (3), 516 (3), 562 (3), 563 (3), 564 (3), 565 or 566 (3), and 579. In addition, PHYS 426 (3) must be completed unless the student has had equivalent material in previous courses.

Doctor of Philosophy in Physics with Dissertation in Atmospheric Physics

Current areas of research in atmospheric physics are the dynamics and microphysics of clouds and mesoscale weather systems, geophysical fluid dynamics, dynamics of planetary atmospheres, thunderstorm electrification and lightning, atmospheric radioactivity, physics of the middle and upper atmosphere, precipitation mechanisms, and radar meteorology. Research facilities include an instrumented aircraft for thunderstorm penetrations, several meteorological radars, and Langmuir Laboratory, a mountaintop observing site. Also available are the observational and computer facilities of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

The following core courses must be completed: PHYS 331 (3), 332 (3), 501 (1), 502 (1), 505 or 526 (3), 508 (3), 513 (3), 514 (3), 515 (3), 516 (3), and 579.

An additional six (6) credit hours must be taken in areas pertinent to the students program. This can be achieved by taking PHYS 532, PHYS 533, PHYS 535, PHYS 536, and/or other courses approved by the students advisory committee.

Doctor of Philosophy in Physics

The following courses must be completed: PHYS 501 (1), 502 (1), 505 (3), 508 (3), 513 (3), 514 (3), 515 (3), 516 (3), and 579. In addition, 9 credit hours of graduate physics should be completed in the students field of specialization.

Doctor of Philosophy in Physics with Dissertation in Mathematical Physics

The mathematical physics program is operated in cooperation with the Mathematics Department. Dissertation supervision may be obtained in either department. Students normally pursue research based on faculty interest in one or both departments.

The following courses must be completed:

  • PHYS 505 (3), 513 (3), 514 (3), 515 (3), 516 (3), 579
  • MATH 435 (3), 438 (3), 442 (3), 471 (3), 535 (3)

Additional approved graduate and upper-division courses, including at least six credit hours   from mathematics and six credit hours from physics, should be elected to bring the total to a minimum of 51 credit hours beyond the bachelors degree. The following courses have been approved:

  • MATH 410 (3), 411 (3), 511 (3), 531 (3), 532 (3), 533 (3), 536 (3), 538 (3)
  • PHYS 508 (3), 526 (3), 532 (3), 533 (3), 535 (3), 536 (3), 562 (3), 563 (3), 564 (3)

Additional courses may be approved at the discretion of the candidates committee.

Physics Graduate Courses

PHYS 500, Directed Research, cr to be arranged
This course may not be used to fulfill graduate degree requirements.
Research under the guidance of a faculty member.

PHYS 501, 502, Graduate Project, 1 cr, 3 lab hrs each semester
This course involves beginning graduate students in a modest project, usually related to ongoing research in the department. While the work will be supervised by a faculty member, the emphasis is on independent work by the student. Possible types of projects include data analysis, software development, theoretical modeling, a literature survey, and design and/or construction of research or teaching equipment.

PHYS 505, Advanced Dynamics, 3 cr, 3 cl hrs
Offered Fall 2009 and alternate years
Introduction to classical mechanics: Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalism, rigid body motion, normal modes. Hamilton-Jacobi Theory, and problems in relativistic mechanics.

PHYS 508, Statistical Mechanics, 3 cr, 3 cl hrs
Offered Spring 2010 and alternate years
Entropy, randomness, the Boltzmann distribution, and the chemical potential. Translational, rotational, vibrational, and electronic contributions to the partition function. Calculation of mean energies, heat capacities, and equilibrium constants. Stability. The influence of wave function symmetry: Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac statistics. The quantum statistical operator. Coherence and the Pauli principle. (Same as CHEM 524)

PHYS 513, 514, Electromagnetics I & II, 3 cr, 3 cl hrs each semester
Offered 2009-2010 and alternate years
The electromagnetic field equations; boundary value problems in electrostatics and magnetostatics; plane, cylindrical, and spherical waves, wave guides; the Hertz Vectors, retarded potentials and simple radiating systems; relativistic electrodynamics; radiation from moving charges.

PHYS 515, 516, Quantum Mechanics I and II, 3 cr, 3 cl hrs each semester
Offered 200809 and alternate years
Review of experiments leading to quantum theory: Schroedingers Equation, operators and eigenvalues, perturbation theory, and applications to simple physical systems. The second semester includes introduction to scattering theory, the theory of angular momentum, and Dirac Theory.

PHYS 526, Fluid Dynamics, 3 cr, 3 cl hrs
Offered 2010 and alternate years
Basic equations, potential and viscous flow, scaling. Compressible flow including characteristics and shock waves. Magnetohydrodyamics, including MHD waves, shocks, and confinement. Fluid and MHD instabilities. Turbulence.

PHYS 532, Atmospheric Remote Sensing, 3 cr, 3 cl hrs
Physics of remote sensing using radio, microwave, infrared, visible, and ultraviolet instruments. Topics will include both passive and active systems for measuring atmospheric temperature, composition, and dynamics. Shares lectures with PHYS 432, but is graded separately and additional graduate level work is required.

PHYS 533, Advanced Topics in Atmospheric Physics, 13 cr, 13 cl hrs
Specialized coursework in the students areas of interest. Advanced topics in the area of atmospheric physics. Selection of topics changes from semester to semester. Current faculty interests can be found at the department web site: www.physics.nmt.edu. This course may be repeated for credit if the material covered in each instance is different.

PHYS 535, Physics of Lightning, 3 cr, 3 cl hrs
Offered Fall 2009 and alternate years
Theory and experimental techniques concerning cloud charging mechanisms. Remote and in-situ sensing of lightning. Lightning phases and properties. Properties of the long spark and leaders in the lab and in the sky. Simple numerical models of cloud charging, lightning initiation, and propagation.

PHYS 536, Atmospheric Convection, 3 cr, 3 cl hrs
Governing equations, turbulence, thermodynamics, and microphysics of moist convection. Models for convection ranging from plumes and thermals through numerical simulations are discussed, as well as interactions of convection with the atmospheric environment.

PHYS 562, Stellar Astrophysics, 3 cr, 3 cl hrs
Prerequisites: PHYS 425, 426 or equivalent or consent of the instructor.
Offered Spring 2007 and alternate years.
This course covers in-depth the physics of stars, their structure and evolution. Topics include energy generation and transport, nucleosynthesis, equations of state, stellar modelling, asteroseismology, and stellar pulsation and rotation all studied in the context of the evolution of a star. There are detailed discussions and derivations of the various stages in star formation and evolution, and the end states of stars (e.g. white dwarfs, planetary nebulae, black holes). The course stresses current refereed literature and has occasional guest speakers on various topics.

PHYS 563, Extragalactic Astrophysics, 3 cr, 3 cl hrs
Prerequisites: PHYS 425, 426 or equivalent or consent of instructor
Offered Fall 2009 and alternate years.
The structure and dynamics of galaxies. Distribution of galaxy types. Potential and orbit theory. Spheroidal galaxies as self-gravitating systems. Instabilities in disk galaxies. Constraints on dark matter and on galaxy formation.

PHYS 564, Relativity and Cosmology, 3 cr, 3 cl hrs
Prerequisites: PHYS 425, 426 or equivalent or consent of instructor
Offered Spring 2009 and alternate years.
General relativity with application to cosmology. Basic principles of relativity. Applications to orbits, gravitational radiation, and black holes. Relativistic cosmography and cosmology. The early universe, galaxy formation, and active galaxies.

PHYS 565, Astronomical Techniques, 3 cr, 3 cl hrs
Offered alternate years
Optical, IR, X-ray and gamma-ray astronomical telescopes and detectors. Throughput, detector quantum efficiency, the modulation transfer function, noise and estimation error. Photometers and photometric systems, CCD imaging, slit and objective grating spectrometry, Fourier spectroscopy. Astrometry, orbit determination. Computer analysis and astronomical databases. Class work will be augmented by extensive optical observing using local facilities.

PHYS 566, Advanced Radio Astronomy, 3 cr, 3 cl hrs
Offered Spring 2009 and alternate years
The design and operational characteristics of radio telescopes and interferometers. Properties of antennas, telescope optics, feeds, waveguides, receivers, and amplifiers. Spectrometers and spectroscopy. Sensitivity and noise. Amplitude and phase calibration, faint signal detection, astrometry, and mapping. Factors that affect radio data, including instrumental characteristics, atmospheric limitations, and propagation phenomena. The VLA and VLBA and the techniques of radio imaging by aperture synthesis. Hands-on astrophysical exercises to be solved by imaging.

PHYS 567, Advanced Topics in Astrophysics, 23 cr, 23 cl hrs
Offered on demand
A one semester tutorial may be selected from any one of the following: our solar system, comets, solar and stellar activity, galactic structure and kinematics, active galaxies and quasars, astrophysical plasmas, accretion disks, black holes, stellar spectroscopy, stellar photometry and astrometry.

PHYS 571, Advanced Topics in Physics, 3 cr, 3 cl hrs
Offered on demand
Study of a special topic not otherwise treated, normally one related to a field of research interest at Tech.

PHYS 579, Graduate Faculty Seminar, 1 cr, 1 cl hr
Offered every semester
A seminar in which current research topics are discussed by faculty, students, and outside speakers. Graded S/U, where satisfactory performance consists of regular attendance and participation. Credit earned may not be applied towards the 30 credits required for the M.S. degree.

PHYS 581, Directed Study, cr to be arranged
Study under the guidance of a member of the graduate faculty. In general, subject matter will supplement that available in other graduate course offerings.

PHYS 590, Independent Study, cr to be arranged

PHYS 591, Thesis (masters program), cr to be arranged

PHYS 595, Dissertation (doctoral degree program), cr to be arranged