Recognizing the serious challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to learning, teaching, and academic performance assessment, the Department of Physics at Brown University asserts the following principles:

We will take into account the significant disruptions and challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic when reviewing applicants’ academic transcripts and other application materials as part of our ongoing practice of performing individualized, holistic review of each applicant. 

As the physics admissions committee reviews applications in future admissions cycles, we will respect decisions made by individual students and/or by their academic institutions with regard to the enrollment in or adoption of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, Pass/No Record, Credit/No Credit, Pass/Fail and similar grading options during the COVID-19 disruptions.  Applicants are invited to describe their individual experiences during the pandemic to provide context that informs the application review process. We strive to create future graduate student cohorts composed of intellectually strong, diverse, and resilient individuals who will make the most of their graduate education opportunities at Brown University.

Physics master's program

The Physics Master's program is suitable as both a means for professional development and preparation for further graduate study.  The program offers enough flexibility to allow for completion of the degree in two, three, or four semesters of full time enrollment, depending on a student’s background. The program may also be completed with part time enrollment over a longer period.  Physics Master’s students are self-funded, tuition is billed per course and reflects the number of courses taken each semester.  The Master's tuition at Brown varies by program, the tuition for the Physics department for academic year 2020-21 is $65,186 - more information is available on the Graduate School's Tuition and Fees webpage.  Currently, there is not any departmental or university funding supporting Physics Master’s students, for information on financing your graduate education at Brown, see the worksheets on the Office of Financial Aid's website.  

Degree Requirements

A total of 8 credits in 2000 level courses form the main requirement for the ScM degree in Physics.  Of the eight required courses, four will be selected from the six core courses of the PhD program (PHYS2010, 2030, 2040, 2050, 2060, 2140).  Preparation of a Master’s thesis is highly recommended as it forms an important pillar of the professional training.  Therefore, one of the eight required courses may be preparation of the thesis.  Three additional credits at the 2000 level are required.  These courses are to be selected from the remaining core courses or the large number of other upper level physics courses.  Up to two of these can be taken in another department with approval of the program director. 

Students with less rigorous physics backgrounds will be advised to take a mixture of 1000 level and 2000 level courses during their course of study, necessitating a 3 or 4 semester track to completion.

For recently admitted students, course selection and registration is in September after a faculty advising session, during orientation.  Registration remains open for the first two weeks as a 'shopping period' for students to make final course decisions. 

Admission Requirements

Applicants are expected to have a strong background in physics or closely related subjects at the undergraduate level. Two recommendation letters are required. The recommendation letters should be from faculty who are acquainted with the applicant's academic or research qualifications.

  • GRE General: Recommended 

  • GRE Subject: Recommended 

  • TOEFL or IELTS: Required for most international applicants. More information here.

Application deadline has been extended to April 30, 2021 - Apply Here

  • international applicants are cautioned to apply early to allow time for the visa application process, typically at least 3 months.
5th Year Master's Program

 The Department of Physics participates in the 5th-Year Master's Degree option at Brown which allows Brown undergraduates to continue at the University for a master's degree after completing their bachelor's degrees. Up to two of the eight courses required for the degree may be completed while participating students are undergraduates, courses used towards the undergraduate degree cannot be used for the Master's (no double dipping).  A minimum of six semester courses must be taken while registered at the graduate level. 

Students must apply for this program before they complete their undergraduate studies.  Because the admission decisions for graduate programs are made at the program level, rising juniors and seniors who are interested in pursuing the 5th Year Master’s option should contact faculty in their intended programs. Applicants are not required to take the GRE.


ScM Student Handbook