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Physics (Graduate)

Collaborate in groundbreaking research on projects that include astrophysics, biophysics, condensed matter, optical and quantum systems, gravity, solar physics, space physics, and more.

Physics – Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Candidates in the Physics graduate program at Montana State conduct a wide variety of research projects from solar physics to superconductivity with MSU’s state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment. The program prides itself on collaborative research, whether it’s interdisciplinary teams on the MSU campus or working with national and international experts. In addition to the groundbreaking research conducted in the department, Physics candidates have the opportunity to conduct public outreach and educational research through the MSU Physics Education Research (PER) group.




Research in the Department of Physics spans from photons to galaxies. Researcher Amy Reines’ study of the nature of how supermassive black holes originate in the universe has earned her and her team a three-year NASA Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) grant.



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Montana Space Grant Consortium
Graduate students have the opportunity to work with the Montana Space Grant Consortium, a member of a national network to advance aerospace research and education.

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Carnegie Classified
The prestigious Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education® ranks Montana State University among the top five public, four-year universities for Very High Research Activity with a STEM-dominant research doctoral program.

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The eXtreme Gravity Institute
Montana State’s eXtreme Gravity Institute brings together physicists and astronomers to study phenomena where the forces of gravity are so strong that they blur the separation between space and time, such as the Big Bang, neutron stars and black holes.




Fund Your Education

The Graduate School at Montana State is dedicated to helping students secure funding during their time at MSU. Some resources the Department of Physics and Graduate School offer include:

Additionally, most students admitted to advanced degree programs in the Physics Department are awarded financial aid in the form of research and teaching assistantships, fellowships, and fee waivers. For more information, please consult the Department of Physics website.


Graduate students in the Department of Physics have the opportunity to work with the following affiliated labs, programs or institutes:

  • Image Chemical Analysis Lab
  • Montana Space Grant Consortium
  • Optical Technology Center
  • Space Science & Engineering Lab
  • Space Public Outreach Team
  • Spectrum Lab
  • eXtreme Gravity Institute




Admissions Requirements

Each program within the Graduate School at Montana State has its own particular requirements for admission, and the Physics program is not different. To ensure that you start your application on the right foot, please review the admissions requirements for the Physics program. This includes any additional deadlines that the College of Letters & Science may have aside from the Graduate School, which does practice rolling admissions.






Careers after Graduation

Graduate alumni in physics embark on a wide range of careers within 10-years of their graduation.

Nearly 55% are working in academia, 33% in for-profit, and about 7.4% for government. Top industry employers include Montana State University and Raytheon Company.

Across all career paths the estimated salary of alumni within 10 years of graduation ranges from $50,000 to $140,000 with an average of $90,000 (source of data Academic Analytics).