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Graduate Program: Assistantships and Fellowships

Most graduate students in the program are supported by assistantships, which are awarded on a competitive basis. Support is usually in the form of a 50%-time (20 hours per week) appointment and may either involve teaching or research. Half-time appointments carry a tuition waiver up to the normal full-time Graduate School tuition, as well as health insurance at reduced premiums. Duties of teaching assistants are typically a mixture of directing and grading introductory physics laboratory sections, leading problem-solving help sessions for introductory physics courses, and homework and exam grading. Duties of research assistants are determined by the sponsoring faculty member. These appointments are most often made for the academic year (September through May). Support for a second year is contingent upon satisfactory progress in the graduate program and satisfactory performance of assigned duties.

Highly qualified applicants and returning students with outstanding academic performance in their first year will be considered for a Mylan Radulovich Graduate Fellowship. This fellowship was established by Mylan Radulovich (BA '60) and is awarded by the Department to one or more new or continuing graduate students. The Department seeks to make up to two awards of $4,000 annually. These awards are supplements to any academic year teaching or research assistantship stipend.

Because of the importance the department attaches to the research aspect of the graduate program, every effort is made to see that students have financial support to pursue their research work for their thesis or project full-time during at least one summer. To receive summer support, students first discuss research topics with the various faculty members. After identifying a faculty advisor and topic for thesis or project work, students prepare a brief proposal for summer support of their work. Funds available within the Swenson College of Science and Engineering, from the Graduate School, and from research grants are used to support as many deserving proposals as possible. Students completing their first year are usually given highest priority.

Support for a second summer is less common, since students can typically satisfy program requirements within that timeframe when supported by an assistantship, although at least partial support has occasionally been provided to allow final completion of project or thesis work. The department usually has some summer support available in the form of summer teaching assistantships. Support for a second summer, when granted, is often in the form of such an assistantship.

Admission Requirements

The prerequisite for admission is a four-year undergraduate degree in physics or its equivalent. Students with degrees in closely related fields with significant physics and mathematics background and a keen interest in further physics training are routinely considered. In making admissions decisions, several measures are taken into account. Among these measures are undergraduate grade point average (the Graduate School prefers an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 on a 4 point scale), undergraduate course selections, and performance on Graduate Record Exams when available. While the GRE general and subject results are not required, their submission is encouraged for students seeking financial support.

For international students, performance on the TOEFL exam is also considered. The Graduate School sets minumim TOEFL scores for admission:

  • Internet-based iBT: 79 overall with minimum scores of 21 and 19 in the writing and reading sections respectively
  • paper-based: 550
  • computer-based: 213

International applicants seeking financial support through assistantships are normally expected to achieve significantly higher scores than the minimum and are also strongly encouraged to provide GRE general and/or subject test results. The results of IELTS (International English Language Testing System) are accepted as an alternative to the TOEFL. The University of Minnesotahas established 6.5 as the minimum score for admission. MELAB is also an accepted alternative to TOEFL, with a minimum score of 80 required for admission. More details on these requirements can be found here. International applicants seeking financial support through assistantships are normally expected to achieve significantly higher scores than the minimum and are also strongly encouraged to provide GRE general and/or subject test results.

Application Information

NOTE: The application process is now online rather than paper-based. Here are some details of what the UMD Physics Department needs.

  • Start your application by following this link.
  • The University of Minnesota has several campuses. In the second online form, "Application Information", be sure to select the "Physics - Duluth - MS" program at the Duluth campus, as shown in this screenshot.
  • In the "Applicant's Statements" section, the application system requires there to be three different statements uploaded. If you address the three topics in one statement, it is ok to simply upload placeholder documents which say something like "please see Statement #1"
  • The "Graduate Program Supplementary Information" section has five things one could upload:
  1. Graduate Program Additional Application
  2. Writing Sample
  3. Description of Research or Work Experience
  4. Resume' or CV
  5. Other Information

The UMD Physics MS does not require an additional application for an assistantship (item #1); just be sure to indicate that you are applying for one in the "Financial Support" section of the application. Item #2 is optional, but if you have a physics paper you wish to share with the adimissions committee, this is the place to include it. Items #3 and #4 are required, and #5 is optional. For further information on Graduate School policies and procedures, visit the UMD Graduate School Office Home Page.

Prospective students intent on pursuing a Ph.D. degree directly should investigate the graduate program in physics on the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus.

Questions regarding details of UMD's Physics M.S. program can be sent to the Director of Graduate Studies:

Prof. Rik Gran, DGS Physics Dept., 371 MWAH
University of Minnesota - Duluth
1023 University Dr.
Duluth, MN 55812 USA

Graduate School deadlines for admission applications are:

July 15 for Fall Semester. However, please note that for full consideration for assistantship support applications should arrive by March 1.
November 1 for Spring Semester. Most assistanship awards are made for the usual academic year, September - May. Only occasionally are assistantship opening available beginning in spring semester.
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Last modified on 11/20/14 11:12 AM
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