This document is in preparation. For summary information about degree requirements or a full description of the M.S. program, please see the links at the top of this page.
In September 1999, the University of Minnesota will change its academic calendar from a quarter system to a semester system. In making this change, the requirements for the Physics M.S. will change. Students entering the program under quarters will have the option of completing their programs using degree requirements of the quarter system or meeting the new semester requirements, using courses from both systems to satisfy the requirements.
The new degree requirements under semesters are intended to streamline the core of required courses, provide a common foundation for all students, and provide an opportunity to build upon that with electives. Since the M.S. program already offers the primary courses in alternating years, this is expected to be a very smooth transition. For students entering in Fall 1998, the change means that some additional attention must be paid to course selection during the first year, but will not pose an obstacle to completing the program in the usual two-year period.
Students starting their studies before September 1999 and electing to meet quarter requirements may need to take some semester courses to finish their degree. A list of which semester course may be used as a substitute for a particular quarter course has been developed. In addition, since one credit in the semester system is not the same as one credit in the quarter system (a 3 credit semester course involves more work and covers more material due to the longer term than a 3 credit quarter course), a conversion scheme for counting semester credits as quarter credits has also been developed. These conversion rules and substitutions will be used in evaluating proposed degree programs within the department.
Similarly, students who begin their studies under quarters but choose to meet the streamlined semester requirements can translate their quarter coursework into semester equivalents. Students who choose this route must be careful to select their quarter courses taken at the start of their studies in a way to satisfy the semester 4-course required core efficiently. Again, a translation table of which quarter courses can be used as substitutes for specific semester requirements has been developed, as well as formulas for converting quarter credits to semester credits.
These rules and translations provide a guideline for evaluating the acceptability of specific degree programs that include both quarter and semester courses. It is the University's intention to ensure that the transition does not impede a student's academic progress. Each degree program will be evaluated by the student's advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies. In most cases, the translation rules and course substitutions will be straightforward and typical programs involving a mix of semester and quarter courses will present no difficulty. In rare cases, a program (after translation) may not adhere strictly to the requirements. In those cases, the advisor and the DGS will evaluate the program to determine if the program (1) represents a sound graduate training in physics at the M.S. level and (2) shows a coherence that outweighs a minor technical deficiency. They will base their approval or disapproval on those considerations. In the unlikely event of disapproval, the advisor or DGS will recommend specific viable alternatives that would produce a satisfactory program.
No double-dipping: Credit will not be granted for taking a semester course
if its designated quarter equivalent or substitute was already completed. For
example, you cannot complete Phys 5174 (Electrodynamics, quarter course) and then
receive credit for later taking Phys 5511 (Electrodynamics, semesters).
Quarter system degree requirements summary
Semester system degree requirements summary
Using semester courses to satisfy 20 credit core quarter degree requirements. (S) designates a semester course, (Q) is a quarter course.
Using quarter courses to satisfy semester degree requirements:
These programs are just examples. The semester-requirement example includes all required core courses or their quarter equivalents. Electives are a mix of courses chosen to meet related field requirements and additional physics electives.
To meet quarter requirements (Plan B)
98-99: Phys 5176-7-8(Quantum 12 q-cr), Phys 5107-9(Thermal,Statistical 8 q-cr), and electives (6 q-cr) 99-00: Phys 5041(Optics 3 s-cr), Phys 5051(Comput Phys 4 s-cr) or 5501(Adv Class Mech 3 s-cr), Phys 5090(Seminar 1 s-cr), and electives (6 s-cr)
This provides 47 equivalent quarter-credits, at least 7 suitable physics courses, and 12 quarter credits of other electives, including those from related fields. Plan A students would likely spend most of the second year on thesis research, needing one more 5000-level physics course and perhaps related fields courses in the second year.
To meet semester requirements (Plan B)
98-99: Phys 5176-7-8 (Quantum Mechanics 12 q-cr) Phys 5174 (Electrodynamics 4 q-cr) Electives (8 q-cr) 99-00: Phys 5501 (Adv Classical Mech 3 s-cr) Phys 5090 (Seminar 1 s-cr) Electives (10 s-cr)
The electives include the minimum 6 semester credits worth of related fields courses and physics elective credits for the 30 credit degree total. Plan A students would likely take 10 cr of thesis work in the second year instead of 10 cr of elective courses.
Students first taking courses in the program September 1999 and after must follow the semester requirements. Students beginning course work in September 1998 are encouraged to follow the guidelines for meeting semester requirements.