MS Program

This page describes many of the details about the Planetary Sciences Track within our department’s Physics MS program.

A very good source of information about the program is our Planetary Sciences Graduate Track Handbook. The most recent version is v2.0, promulgated on April 30, 2018. More info can be found at the Graduate Catalog webpage about our track and the department’s webpage the whole graduate program (not just our track).

Applying to the Program

Applicants should identify one or more projects they would be interested in pursuing as a potential research topic, contact faculty or researchers who might advise them, and discuss their specific project interests in their applications. Students can always change projects once in the program, provided that another project is available. More advice and suggestions about applying to our program can be found on our Jobs page. In particular, applicants should closely follow the application essay instructions on that page!  We need detail about an applicant’s research experiences to fully evaluate your application.  We will want to know: what did YOU do, what problems did you face, and how did you handle them?

We evaluate applications in January, February, and March each year and make most admissions decisions then. Officially, we can admit as late as June for Fall enrollment, and we can admit for Spring enrollment, but such cases are atypical. Funding for Masters students is generally not available, but there may be exceptional cases where GTAs and GRAs are available.

Note that UCF does have a policy regarding parental leave for GTAs and GRAs; paid leave is provided for up to six weeks.

About the Program

Curious about what it’s like to be in our graduate program? Read the interviews with some of our current grad students!

Courses in the Program

The Planetary Sciences track in the Physics MS program requires a minimum 33 hours of graduate course work as directed by the student’s supervisory committee. This must include at least 15 credit hours of required courses, 6 hours of thesis preparation with the remainder being elective courses and directed research chosen in consultation with the supervisory committee. At least half of the total credits must be at the 6000 level. No more than 6 hours of independent study may be credited toward the master’s degree. The master’s degree in Planetary Sciences includes a thesis and its defense. There is no nonthesis master’s degree in the Planetary Sciences track. Other electives are added as teaching schedules permit. The Graduate Catalog also has info about some of these courses.

Total Credit Hours Required: 33 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Bachelor’s Degree

Required Courses: 15 Credit Hours

The core is designed to give students a broad foundation in the planetary sciences and a rapid training in the data analysis techniques that will be necessary for a successful research and publications. Students choose 5 out of the 6 core courses listed below:

PHY 5524 – Statistical Physics 3 Credit Hours
PHY 6246 – Classical Mechanics 3 Credit Hours
PHZ 5156 – Computational Physics 3 Credit Hours
AST 5765C – Advanced Astronomical Data Analysis 3 Credit Hours
AST 5154 – Advanced Planetary Geophysics 3 Credit Hours
AST 5263 – Advanced Observational Astronomy 3 Credit Hours
AST 5165 – Planetary Atmospheres 3 Credit Hours

Elective Courses: 12 Credit Hours
AST 6938 – Planetary Astronomy Seminar 3 Credit Hours
AST 6112 – Origin and Evolution of Planetary Systems 3 Credit Hours
AST 5334 – Extrasolar Planets and Brown Dwarfs 3 Credit Hours
PHY 5937 – Astrobiology 3 Credit Hours
AST 5145 – Advanced Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites 3 Credit Hours

Other Electives
PHZ 5505 – Plasma Physics 3 Credit Hours
PHY 5346 – Electrodynamics I 3 Credit Hours
PHY 6347 – Electrodynamics II 3 Credit Hours
PHY 5606 – Quantum Mechanics I 3 Credit Hours
PHY 6624 – Quantum Mechanics II 3 Credit Hours
OSE 5041 – Introduction to Wave Optics 3 Credit Hours
EEL 5820 – Image Processing 3 Credit Hours
OSE 5312 – Light Matter Interaction 3 Credit Hours
Thesis: 6 Credit Hours
AST or PHY 6971 – Thesis 6 Credit Hours