Graduate Programs

Physics is the most fundamental of the natural sciences. It touches on important philosophical questions in its theories of relativity and quantum mechanics, and it uses mathematics, computers, and high technology instrumentation as tools for research. For students who complete a degree in physics, the rewards are a deep understanding of nature, unusual flexibility in the choice of a career, and exceptional strength and stability in the job market.

Admission Requirements and Application Information

In general, properly-prepared students will have undergraduate preparation in physics and related support courses comparable to the present minimum Physics degree requirements at Creighton University. This must include upper-division course work covering each of the following areas: mechanics, electromagnetics, and modern physics. Additional work in physics to bring the total to twenty-four semester hours, plus the associated support from mathematics, is necessary. In addition, the general graduate school application requirements (including copies of official transcripts of all undergraduate work, three letters of reference, a personal statement, general aptitude GRE results, and TOEFL results (for international students; a minimum of 90 on the iBT with scores of 20 in each category is required) must be submitted as part of the application.

Here is a link to the graduate school pages including on-line copies of application and recommendation forms. For further information, please contact Dr. Michael G. Nichols, Graduate Program Director, email:, Telephone: (402) 280-2159

We review applications as soon as we receive them and offer teaching and research fellowships as they become available. Typically, applications should be completed not later than the last week of July or the second week of December, to be considered for admission in the Fall and Spring semesters, respectively.


Teaching fellowships are awarded each year. Graduate fellows receive a cash stipend and full remission of tuition. Tuition remission is also extended to fellows in the summer sessions adjoining the fellowship year. Fellows are required to provide the equivalent of twelve hours per week of instructional service in the undergraduate laboratories. Upon recommendation of the department, fellowship appointments may be renewed for a second year. All M.S. Applicants are automatically considered for a teaching or research fellowship.  No additional application is required. The Award recipients are normally notified with offer of admission - typically before April 1.

M.S. Career Opportunities

Depending on each student's program of graduate coursework, seminars, directed studies, and research, our M.S. in Physics graduates are prepared to enter doctoral programs in the various specialities of physics, or advanced degree programs in a variety of related fields such as electronics, optical or nuclear engineering, computer science, biophysics, medical physics, environmental science, meteorology, oceanography, and astrophysics. The M.S. in Physics program is also an excellent preparation for research positions in industrial or governmental laboratories, and for teaching positions at the secondary-school and junior-college levels.

M.S. Program Objectives

Creighton University's graduate program in Physics is designed to combine a solid foundation in physics with adaptability to a wide range of student interests and career objectives. The Physics Department maintains close association with the Departments of Atmospheric Sciences, Mathematics/Computer Science, Chemistry, Biology, and the Health Sciences, providing excellent opportunities for interdisciplinary study and research. The Department also participates with other colleges and universities in combined research efforts, including collaborative experiments at regional, national, and international facilities. Close interaction between students and faculty facilitates responsiveness to the needs of each student. Graduates of four-year liberal arts colleges are of special interest to our faculty, as are secondary-school and junior-college teachers who wish to enrich their background in physics. Graduate study for part-time students is encouraged by scheduling courses in the late afternoon, and by flexibility in accommodating the needs of working part-time students.

The Master of Science Program in Physics is designed to be completed by full-time students in two academic years.

Program Goals Learning Objectives

1.  Graduates will demonstrate disciplinary competence and/or professional proficiency.

1A.  Students will demonstrate the skills appropriate to graduate-level physics, including conceptual problem solving ability, proficiency in advanced mathematics, proficiency in theoretical or experimental project design, expertise in employing computer software, proficiency in communication through writing and oral presentations.

2. Graduates will demonstrate critical thinking skills

2A.  Students will complete a thesis (Plan A) or a research report (Plan B).

3. Graduates will demonstrate Ignatian values, to include but not limited to a commitment to an exploration of faith and the promotion of justice.

3A.  Students will successfully analyze the ethical component of issues from the physical sciences.

4.  Graduates will demonstrate the ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

4A.  Students will be able to present effective progress reports on their research. 
5.  Graduates will demonstrate deliberative reflection for personal and professional formation

5A.  Students will write a resume and sit for a mock job interview.

5B.  Students will participate in personal reflection activities.

6.  Graduates will demonstrate the ability to work effectively across race, ethnicity, culture, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.

6A.  Students will demonstrate the ability to work as members of a team. 

6B.  Graduate Teaching Fellows will be able to effectively teach introductory laboratories and recitation sections.


Program and Graduation Requirements

New! M.S. in medical physics program beginning Fall 2016.

Accepted students should decide by the middle of their first semester on the program option that they wish to pursue. Plan A (thesis option) requires 30 semester hours of graduate credit, including six hours of thesis research. Plan-A students must also satisfy a language/research tool requirement by demonstrating a working knowledge of computer programming. Plan B (non-thesis option) requires 33 semester hours of graduate credit, at least 18 of which must be from 600/700-level courses.

Regardless of plan, all physics graduate students are required to include the following four courses in their programs: PHY 611, PHY 621, PHY 631, and PHY 641. These "core courses" are designed to provide all students with an advanced understanding of the concepts, principles, and methods in the fundamental areas of physics. In building around this core, students have considerable latitude in the choice of course work to complete the degree program. Full-time students must enroll in Graduate Seminar (PHY 791) each semester.

Plan A students must select a thesis advisor and then meet to develop a plan of study and discuss potential research projects. Plan-A students will be assigned a thesis committee by the Program Director. The committee consists of the advisor and at least two other physics faculty members. Additional members may be chosen from related disciplines, if appropriate. The thesis committee reviews the thesis proposal, reads and approves the final thesis, and administers the final oral defense.

Plan B students will work with the Program Director to draw up a plan of study. Plan-B students must also select a research advisor with whom they will complete a research project by taking PHY 797 (3 sem. hrs.), writing a research report, and making an oral presentation of their research.

With the approval of the student's advisor, Plan-A programs may include up to six semester hours of graduate credit (500/600/700 levels) in related areas other than Physics (such as Mathematics/Computer Science, Atmospheric Sciences, Biology, and Chemistry). Plan-B programs may include one or two minors in related areas totaling up to 15 semester hours of graduate credit (500/600/700 levels) approved by the student's advisor.

All degree candidates must pass a written Comprehensive Examination covering basic physics. The Exam is offered three times a year. A passing score on at least one part of this exam within the first year is required to remain in the program. More information about the Examination is available from the Program Director or the student's advisor.

Research Specialties

Members of the Physics Department faculty are doing experimental research in the areas of astrophysics, biological physics, low-energy atomic-collision physics, relativistic heavy ion physics, particle physics, laser physics, condensed matter physics, surface physics, and x-ray fluorescence. Current theoretical interests of the faculty include astro-particle physics, cosmology, relativistic heavy ion physics (ultraperipheral collisions), and biological physics.

Learn more about each of these research programs.

You can also find more information about our research interests in our AIP GradschoolShopper department Profile (pdf).