Michigan State University, one of the oldest land-grant colleges, was founded in 1855 for the purpose of furthering
the interests of agriculture and the mechanic arts. From this modest begining it has grown to become one of America's
largest universities, with many educational innovations to its credit. Through its 14 colleges and more
than 100 departments, it offers 200 different programs leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees.
The university campus is well known for its natural beauty and spaciousness, its park-like walks, and its trees and
flowering gardens. Extensive indoor and outdoor athletic facilities are available for general use by the university community.
The University sponsors numerous artistic and cultural events which feature internationally known performers and
lecturers. In addition, the School of Music and the Department of Theatre sponsor frequent concerts, recitals
and plays. Many of the performances take place in the Wharton Center which opened in 1982. This facility houses
two theaters: the 2,500-seat Great Hall and the 600-seat Festival Stage.
The campus adjoins East Lansing, a pleasant residential city with a population of about 50,000 and a well-regarded public
school system. Lansing, the capital of Michigan, is contiguous with East Lansing. The Detroit metropolitan area is
located about 85 miles east of the campus. Michigan State University subscribes to the principles of equal opportunity
and affirmitave action. University programs, activities and facilities are available without regard to race, color,
sex, religion, creed, national origin, political persuation, sexual preference, marital status, handicap, or age.
The on-campus enrollment at Michigan State University for the 1996 fall semester was approximately 40000,
including 8000 graduate and professional students. There were 120 physics graduate students, including 95 Ph.D. candidates,
and 25 M.S. candidates; and in addition, there were 18 postdoctoral research associates.
The Graduate Program
The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers graduate programs leading to degrees of Master of Science and
Doctor of Philosophy. To earn a masters degree a student must pass a Candidacy Examination and complete 30 semester
credits of graduate work. These 30 credits may be earned entirely in regular course work, including some research
experience, or may combine course work with a thesis on an experimental or theoretical investigation. A student
holding a teaching assistantship, and who can therefore not carry a full-time course load, can normally complete
the M.S. degree in two academic years.
To complete the Ph.D. degree, a graduate student must pass the candidacy examination in graduate physics, at
the Ph.D. level, and complete a dissertation based on original research. There is no foreign language requirement.
Ph.D. candidates are normally required to do some teaching as part of their degree requirements. While the time
of graduate study required for completing the Ph.D. degree varies substantially with individual circumstances, the
average time required by recent students here was five years. During the last decade, about 12 students per year
have been granted the Ph.D. degree in physics by the University.
The candidacy examination is taken at the begining of the second year of graduate study. Graduate students with
normal undergraduate preparation typically take three academic courses per term during the first year in the program.
These include Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Physics, Classical Mechanics, and Electrodynamics. In addition
to these courses, there is available a full complement of other graduate courses. A weekly general colloquium and
an active calendar of seminars in solid state physics, nuclear & accelerator physics, elementary particle physics, and
astronomy & astrophysics provide adequate opportunity to become acquainted with current research work presented by
leading physicists of this country and abroad.
The departmental research programs provide the graduate student with a wide choice of areas, or combination of
areas, in which to persue original research in fulfillment of degree requirements. There are currently 62 faculty
members. Of these, 24 are primarily theorists and 38 primarily experimentalists. About 150 research articles
in refereed journals are published per year by faculty and students in physics and astronomy.
Financial Support and Cost of Study
About 120 students now serve as teaching or research assistants. Students are usually teaching assistants in
laboratory or recitation sections for introductory physics during the first year of graduate study. Later they
transfer to research assistantships in their chosen area of doctoral research specialization. Half-time graduate
assistantship stipends begin at $11,475 for the 1997 - 1998 academic year. Summer assistantships are available.
Assistants spend up to 20 hours a week on their duties. In-class contact hours for teaching assistants range from 6 - 8 hours
per week for recitation and laboratory classes. The normal load for assistants is 6 to 9 credit hours. The duties of
research assistants are commonly in the general area in which the Ph.D. thesis will be written.
The following support is also available for exceptionally skilled incoming graduate students:
Students with outstanding records are automatically considered for and nominated for these fellowships. Health
insurance is also provided for the academic year (the cost of this premium is about $600).
- College of Natural Science Doctoral Fellowship;
- Center for Fundamental Materials Research Fellowship for outstanding applicants in materials research;
- NSCL Fellowship;
- and supplemental Herbert Graham Scholarships for qualified applicants.
Tuition for 1996 - 1997 was $210 per credit hour for Michigan residents. Teaching and Research Assistants pay in-state rates
and receive a tuition waiver of 6 credits per semester. Out-of-State tuition was $424 per credit hour. Half of the
matriculation fees will be paid by MSU for all graduate assistants begining in 1997 - 1998. Registration fees
for students in 1996 - 1997 were $275 per semester.
Living and Housing Costs
Single rooms in Owen Hall, the graduate residence center, rented for $2,000 per semester and double rooms for $1,900 per
student per semester in 1996 - 1997. This cost includes credit toward 20 meals per week. Food may be obtained from
several campus cafeterias and local restauraunts. The university owns and operates more than 2,000 one- and two-bedroom
apartments to help meet the needs of married students. These rent for $ 375 and $445 per month respectively, and include
utilities, essential furniture, and a private telephone. Privately-owned off-campus rooms and apartments are also available.
Along with the wide variety of specialized equipment associated with particular research areas, the department
is well provided with general facilities. These include well-equipped machine shops staffed by experienced machinists
and instrument makers, and an electronics shop with construction and maintenance technicians. An extensive departmental
research and teaching library is located in the Physics and Astronomy Building. The Cyclotron Laboratory and its
support facilities are housed in a separate building.
Research facilities include
- two superconducting cyclotrons, K500 and K1200, each injected by ECR ion sources and
associated apparatus, including
- the modern A1200 fragment separator which allows efficient production and in-flight separation of rare isotopes;
- the recently completed high-resolution S800 superconducting magnetic spectrograph;
- a large 92-inch scattering chamber;
- a recoil mass separator;
- 4-pi neutron and charged particle detectors;
- a high-energy gamma ray detector array;
- neutron and charged-particle hodoscopes;
- a number of data acquisition and analysis computers;
- X-ray diffraction apparatus employing X-ray cameras and a 12 Kwatt rotating anode X-ray source;
- photo and electron-beam lithographic facilities for device fabrication with 50nm resolution;
- cryogenic facilities;
- five superconducting magnets;
- two automated SQUID magnetometers;
- an electron spin resonance laboratory;
- an ultrahigh-vacuum four-gun sputtering system;
- a liquid argon calorimeter test station for the DZero experiment
at Fermilab and detector development for future high energy accelerators;
- and a state-of-the-art electronics design facility.
Important off-campus facilities in the high-energy area include the accelerator at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois;
the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York; CERN in Geneva, Switzerland and
Argonne National Laboratory, where experiments are currently carried out by MSU faculty and students.
The astronomy faculty makes use of the facilities on campus, which include a 0.6m telescope, and of the
observatories at Kitt Peak (Arizona), WIRO (Wyoming), Mounts Wilson and Palomar (California), Sliding Springs (Australia),
and Cerro Tololo and Las Campanas (Chile). MSU has joined the SOAR consortium to
build a 4-meter telescope near La Serena, Chile.
Go to Graduate Research Programs
The Physics & Astronomy Department has an extensive infrastructure of computing and data communications
equipment that is constantly being upgraded. Faculty, staff and many graduate assistants have PCs
or terminals at their desks, which they use for word-processing, electronic mail and to access other computers
via departmental, campus and wide area networks. A room with up-to-date computer equipment has
recently been made available to graduate students.
The department has a DEC 3000 Model 500X Alpha AXP minicomputer and a Sun Ultra 170e workstation for interactive
and batch use in the VMS and UNIX operating systems. The research groups have additional UNIX and OpenVMS workstations
for interactive graphics and specialized uses. All graduate students have accounts on the OpenVMS cluster and the
central Sun Solaris machine for use with classwork, electronic mail, and serving World-Wide Web pages.
The University has several micro-computer and graphic laboratories available on campus for use by graduate and
undergraduate students on a walk-in basis. The Computer Laboratory also maintains a Sun ES6000 Mini-Supercomputer
system, and IBM 3090 system with a vectorprocessor, and a number of other Sun Solaris, SGI IRIX, and IBM AIX systems.
These and other computers in the Chemistry Department, the Cyclotron Laboratory and other campus locations can be reached
using various networks via the campus high-speed fiber network. Remote computers such as the NSF Supercomputing Centers,
facilities at other Michigan universities, and at Fermi National Loboratory can be reached through connections to regional,
national and international networks.
In response to the growing need for innovative methods of teaching and exciting children about science, the
graduate students at MSU have founded Science Theatre, a student-designed and -run outreach activity.
Since its inception in 1991, Science Theatre has grown to involve not only over 30 graduate students from the
Department of Physics & Astronomy, but also graduate students from the Departments of Plant & Soil Science,
Biochemistry, Geology, and Chemistry, and the Colleges of Education and Engineering. Through funding from
the NSF, AIP and the Michigan State University College of Natural Science, MSU Science Theatre brings unique and
exciting science demonstrations to schools and community events throughout the state of Michigan in the form of
hands-on activities and stage shows and science articles in local newspapers. In addition to their service to
the Michigan K-12 School System, Science Theatre members enhance their graduate education by traveling
to national conferences, applying for grant money from the NSF, AIP and corporate sponsors, by making
contacts in the research, education, and funding fields, and by expanding their teaching and presentation skills.
Science Theatre was a recent recipient of an annual AAAS science education award.
Most importantly, Science Theatre members experience fun and the thrill of sharing the wonders of science with children,
parents, and teachers, and are involved in a project which has been called "one of the most worthwhile efforts in
science education today."
The Student Shop
Graduate students have the opportunity to construct part or all of their research projects in the student shop,
located in the basement of the Physics and Astronomy Building. The student shop is equipped with lathes, drill
presses, milling machines, band saws and soldering facilities, as well as a full compliment of hand tools. After
completing a six-lesson shop course emphasizing safety and machining techniques, students are encouraged to design
and build sepecialized equipment for their research. The professional staff of the Department machine shop are
available for advice and consultation.
Graduate Research Programs
Graduate Program Requirements
To apply for admission to the graduate program or financial aid, or to request further information, write to the address
below or complete the Information Request Form below that:
Dr. J. S. Kovacs, Associate Chairperson|
MSU Department of Physics & Astronomy
106 Physics-Astronomy Bldg., MSU
East Lansing, MI 48824-1116
This page last updated: 1998.03.25 (Wednesday) 02:44:47 EST by GJP