Students who are interested in pursuing a career in the field of quantum physics will likely need to continue their studies beyond an undergraduate degree. While there are no master's degrees specifically in quantum physics available in the United States, students are able to enroll in more general master's degree programs in physics and use their coursework to focus on quantum physics.
General Information About Master's Degrees in Quantum Physics
At the master's degree level, students enrolling in physics programs can often select elective courses in quantum physics if they are interested in focusing on this subfield. The length of these programs varies, as some can be completed in as few as 12 months. These programs may require students to complete their own research and a master's thesis in addition to coursework. We will look at some quantum physics courses that are common to many master's degree programs in physics.
Quantum Mechanics I
Master's degree programs in physics typically include a core course in quantum mechanics. This course focuses such topics as the postulates and developmental principles of quantum mechanics, transformation theory, angular momentum, and scattering theory. This course also introduces students to first-order electromagnetic processes and relativistic quantum field theory.
Quantum Mechanics II
This course might also be offered as part of the core curriculum, but is usually an elective for students who want a deeper understanding of quantum physics. A quantum mechanics II course builds on the knowledge learned in the foundation course and may include the study of such topics as Schroedinger's wave equation, Dirac's theory of the electron, and bound-state perturbation theory.
Quantum Theory of Solids
In an elective course focused on quantum theory of solids, students learn principles and theories that relate to the idea of symmetry. They also receive an overview on the properties and dynamics of electrons, energy-band theory, periodic structures, Femi surfaces, and electron-phonon interactions, among other topics. Students may also be expected to use various quantum mechanical models in order to make their own calculations regarding the electronic and phononic qualities of different types of materials.
Quantum Many-Body Theory
Students may also have the option of taking an elective course in quantum many-body theory. This course focuses on a variety of topics, including Dyson's equation, laws governing symmetry and conservation, and Fermi liquids. Students can also study such topics Green functions, Feynman diagrams, and second quantization.
Quantum Field Theory
In this course, students learn about Lagrangian field theory along with the processes involved in quantum electrodynamics, covariant perturbation theory, and symmetries and conservation laws. The course may also include instruction in topics like Green functions and the Dirac equation.
Master's Degree Programs in Quantum Physics Admission Criteria
To gain admission into a master's degree program in physics, students will need to have completed a bachelor's degree program in physics or a related field. Students should have already acquired a foundation of knowledge in topics like mechanics and thermodynamics through their previous coursework before beginning the master's degree program. When applying, students must submit the application form itself, their transcripts, letters of recommendation, and GRE score results. Some schools require that students have a minimum GPA to be considered for admission.
Students who are interested in pursuing a master's degree program in quantum physics may find that they will have to be creative to achieve this goal, as there aren't any programs specifically in this field. However, by selecting the right electives, students can focus their general master's degree in physics on quantum physics.