Graduate Program Physics

A PSU Physics student examining a clear tube with equipment inside it.

Physics Master's Degree Overview

Challenge your knowledge of the universe and collaborate with your cohort and expert faculty to form new theories with a Master’s Degree in Physics. Our tightly-knit graduate program will push you to develop robust research and experimental skills while you work closely with faculty who are leading researchers in diverse fields like biophysics, nanotechnology, atmospheric and climate science, and much more.

As a graduate student at PSU, you will acquire advanced knowledge in quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, classical mechanics, and statistical mechanics. Our seminar series and guest lecturers will enrich your classroom work and will expose you to new dimensions of thought. You’ll also have the opportunity to take your groundbreaking discoveries beyond the lab as you present your research in student symposiums and conferences.

Degree Details

Physics Master's Degree: Why PSU?

Join a spirited department of faculty and graduate students who are passionate about physics and the potential for discovery. Our collaborations take us deeper into the field and also into exciting partnerships with top area researchers. Portland State is home to the Center for Electron Microscopy and Nanofabrication, a signature research facility of the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnology Institute, a collaboration between Oregon's research universities, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, and industry partners.

As a master’s student in physics, you will take a group of core courses that provides you with an advanced foundation in quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, classical mechanics, and statistical mechanics.

You'll be able to select the direction of your studies and take courses that best fit your interests and career goals with a choice of three pathways: Nano and Materials Science, Atmospheric Sciences, and Biophysics. These three pathways offer:

  1. Nano and Materials Science is an exploration in structures and materials on the scale of nanometers as well as an interdisciplinary approach to investigating the properties of matter. Courses include Solid State Physics, Solid State Devices, Applied Optics, and Microelectronic Device Fabrication.
  2. Atmospheric Sciences is the study of the interactions between the atmosphere and other systems using both experimental and computational approaches. Electives include Atmospheric Physics, Alternative Energies, Statistical Mechanics, and Environmental Fluid Mechanics.
  3. Biophysics is the application of physics to investigate biological phenomena. Electives include Cellular and Molecular Biophysics, Biochemistry, Statistical Mechanics, and Molecular Genetics.

You'll also benefit from our Science Support Shop and our close ties with local industry and other departments, including electrical and civil engineering, chemistry, environmental science and management, geology, and biology.

What can I do with a Master's degree in Physics?

Physicists are employed by almost all industries, and a master’s degree in physics from Portland State will provide you with the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to succeed no matter where your career takes you. Many of our students go on to complete doctoral degrees in physics, applied physics, and engineering.

Recent graduates have been accepted to Ph.D. programs around the country, including Oregon Health & Science University, the University of Georgia, Louisiana State University, Georgetown, and Portland State.

With a master's degree, you can also work in a variety of jobs in technical industries and government laboratories. Recent graduates from our master’s programs have been hired at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Oregon Physics, FEI, Novellus, Tokyo Electron, Intel, Tektronix, Analog Devices, and eLumigen.

Featured Courses

  • PH 412 Quantum Mechanics I
  • PH 512 Quantum Mechanics II
  • PH 631 Electromagnetic Fields and Interactions I
  • PH 632 Electromagnetic Fields and Interactions II
  • PH 624 Classical Mechanics
  • PH 664 Statistical Mechanics


  • PH 590 Cellular and Molecular Biophysics
  • PH 573 Alternative Energies
  • PH 619 Advanced Quantum Mechanics
  • PH 585 Experimental Methods in Applied Physics


Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).