Physical and Applied Science, M.S.

Graduate Degree
The Physical and Applied Science, M.S. degree program has an online option. Learn more about the Physical and Applied Science, M.S. online degree program and Online Learning at Marshall University.

What is Physical and Applied Science?

Physical and Applied Science are fields that develops skills in critical thinking, analysis and problem solving, all of which are in high demand by employers today. Graduate study in this area enables students to pursue challenging, exciting and productive careers.

Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, offers the Master of Science (MS) in Physical and Applied Science with these two degrees:

Master of Science (MS) in Physics (GS 80) offered by the Department of Physics
The MS in Physical and Applied Science degree (GS 60) is offered by the Department of Physics in cooperation with the Departments of Chemistry, Geology, Computer and Information Technology, and Mathematics

For the Physical and Applied Science master’s degree, graduate students choose one area of emphasis from the following:

Geobiophysical Modeling
Physics for Teachers

The area of emphasis in Geobiophysical Modeling is interdisciplinary, with core courses in Remote Sensing and GIS Modeling. Students may then choose from areas of concentration in Aquatic, Terrestrial or Biophysical Systems and Models.

Why Study Physical and Applied Science at Marshall?

In the master’s degree program, the Physical and Applied Science major is unique in that students are free to design their own course of study to meet their specific life or career goals.

Fully Online Emphasis in Physics for Teachers for In-Service Physics Teachers

This area of emphasis is targeted towards practicing secondary school teachers. Certified teachers who earn this degree will qualify to teach secondary physics, either in middle or high schools, as well as Advanced Placement, dual enrollment, and early college physics classes, or community colleges, depending on the requirements in the state. The degree is covered by the Higher Learning Commission accreditation. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, educators with a master’s degree earn a higher salary than their fellow teachers with a bachelor’s degree, even if they have the same amount of experience.

Flexible Format

The Physics for Teachers area of emphasis curriculum consists entirely of asynchronous online courses, offering educators both the opportunity and the flexibility to take them anywhere, thus adding to their teaching career a new educational skill. It aims to deepen the teachers’ understanding of physics, with the goal of making this challenging subject more interesting and less intimidating to their students.

Tailored Curriculum

In addition to offering a wide range of areas of emphasis to choose from, students also can opt to use any coherent group of graduate courses within the science disciplines to meet the requirements for the master’s in Physical and Applied Science. This means that students who want to pursue a career or advancement in a particular industry, or who seek a particular job position, can tailor the Physical and Applied Science major to increase their specific employment opportunities.

The curriculum for the master’s in Physical and Applied Science is designed for each student. Since students in the Physical and Applied Science program are primarily preparing for a career in industry, many of their master’s level courses emphasize hands-on, practical experience. Many of the graduate lab courses draw from actual problems or techniques used in industry.

The graduate MS degree in Physical and Applied Science is designed to be completed within four semesters or two years. For part-time students, time to completion depends on how many classes they are able to take every semester. The Marshall University Physics Department currently offers two Graduate Assistant positions that are open to master’s-level students on a competitive basis. Marshall University also offers scholarships and grants to assist students with education costs.

Industry Relevant

Marshall’s affiliation with the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) provides student with a wealth of industry-relevant experiences. RCBI, West Virginia’s Manufacturing Technology Center, encourages job creation, economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship by supporting manufacturing companies of all sizes. RCBI offers leading-edge equipment use and specialized training for everyone from sole proprietors to Fortune 500 companies.

The Physics Department has a wide range of research opportunities available for graduate students. Many of the research topics include techniques important to high-tech industry, such as nanoparticle fabrication, water filtration, laser and phonon physics, photovoltaic devices and thin film solar cells, high-altitude balloon and sounding rocket instrumentation, and more. Faculty are readily available to discuss potential projects with interested master’s degree students.

Marshall University is dedicated to excellence in both research and teaching. Marshall’s success is having world-class faculty members who are not only experts in their fields of research, but also excel at interacting with students in the classroom to share their knowledge. As part of the Physics Department, students benefit from a low student to faculty ratio, which enhances the educational experience of our next generation of scientists. Graduate courses may contain only a handful of students, making it a unique experience with individualized attention from senior faculty members.

Career Outlook for Physical and Applied Science Graduate Students

Recent data shows almost all Marshall master’s degree students in Physical and Applied Science are hired directly into the workforce after graduation with salaries that exceed the national average.

Physical and Applied Science Jobs

Physics is present in many specialized fields from astronomy, astrophysics, nanotechnology and medical physics to geophysics, microelectronics, engineering, chemistry, biophysics and more. Physical and Applied Science can open doors to employment opportunities throughout the world in government, industry, schools and private organizations.

Depending on their area of emphasis, some Marshall graduate students do go on to other graduate studies, but most students in the Physical and Applied Science MS program are interested in a technical or management career in industry.

Students who graduate with a master’s in Physical and Applied Science have developed skills in critical thinking, analysis and problem solving, along with the ability to learn new skills quickly. According to the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the knowledge and skills regularly used by graduates who move into the private sector include: working on a team, solving technical problems, technical writing, design and development, performing quality control, using specialized equipment, programming, managing projects, using direct knowledge of physics and astronomy, simulation and modeling, applying advanced math, working with customers, and managing people and budgets.

A survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor found that “a physics degree was an excellent preparation for many careers not necessarily associated with physics (e.g., law, business, medicine). Employers value the technical and problem-solving skills that students acquire in the course of their physics studies.”

Hiring Employers

The AIP is an excellent resource that reports on employers who hire graduates with Physical and Applied Science, or Physics degrees. Here’s a sampling of West Virginia employers who recently hired graduates in the field:

Civil and environmental consultants
Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences
Corhart Refractories/Saint Gobain
Dominion Energy
First Energy/Monongahela Power Co.
Fontaine Engineering
Ideal Innovations, Inc.
KeyLogic systems
Netherland, Sewell & Associates, Inc.
PDC Energy
Precision Castparts Corp
RL Laughlin Natural Gas
The Rockefeller University
Thrasher Engineering
TMC Technologies
U.S. Well Services
United States Department of Justice
WesBanco Inc.
ZF Group

Physical and Applied Science Salaries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in life, physical and social science occupations is projected to grow 5 percent through 2029, faster than the average for all occupations, and will result in about 68,200 new jobs. Increasing demand for expertise in the sciences, particularly in occupations involved in biomedical research, psychology, energy management and environmental protection will likely result in employment growth.

The median annual wage for life, physical and social science occupations was $69,760 in May 2020, which was higher than the median wage for all occupations of $41,950.

AIP data report that starting salaries for master’s degree students in Physical and Applied Sciences, and Physics range from $55,000 to $75,000.

Overall employment of physicists and astronomers is projected to grow 7 percent through 2029, faster than the average for all occupations, reports the BLS.

Physicists are projected to have employment growth in the scientific research and development services, educational services, and healthcare and social assistance industries. The median annual wage for physicists was $129,850 in May 2020. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $67,450, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.

Opportunities for Physical and Applied Science Graduate Students

State-of-the-Art Resources

Recently, the Physics Department and the College of Science made a joint venture to acquire a portable Atomic Force Microscope to be used for research, recruiting and teaching. Physics faculty have also worked with others in the College of Science to obtain top equipment such as the new JEOL JSM-7200F Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope [National Science Foundation (NSF) Award 1828358]. The Physics Department also has acquired a Lulzbot 3D printer for student use.

In addition, through collaboration with RCBI, located only minutes from Marshall’s campus, students have access to a wide range of industrial-quality manufacturing equipment and to a broad assortment of cutting-edge manufacturing equipment. RCBI also provides access to seminars, job fairs and internship opportunities throughout West Virginia.

Premier Facilities

Students in the Physics Department have access to the Molecular and Biological Imaging Center (MBIC), which is located in the Science Building on Marshall University’s main campus in Huntington, WV, as well as Marshall’s new Biotechnology Science Center.

The two buildings are across the street from one another and are connected by a skybridge. The purpose of the imaging core user facility is to provide instrumentation, infrastructure and a learning environment to support the research and teaching programs at Marshall. The MBIC core facility contains a variety of equipment from atomic force microscopes, transmission electron microscopes and scanning electron microscopes, all geared toward helping students with research.

Graduate students in the Physical and Applied Science, and Physics programs who are involved in computation research can also take advantage of Big Green, a supercomputing cluster comprised of 276 central processing unit cores, 552 gigabytes of memory and more than 10 terabytes of storage. Eight NVidia Tesla graphics processing units with 448 cores each provide support for massively parallel computation, pushing Big Green to roughly six Teraflops–or six trillion floating point operations per second–of theoretical peak computing power. A variety of scientific software packages are installed and available for use on the cluster, including COMSOL, Multiphysics, Mathematica and CLC Genomics WorkBench.

Big Green was made possible in part by a National Science Foundation grant that funds Cyberinfrastructure for Transformational Scientific Discovery in West Virginia and Arkansas (CI-TRAIN), a partnership among eight higher education institutions in West Virginia and Arkansas.

Admission Requirements

Applicants should follow the admissions process described in this catalog or at the Graduate Admissions website at

In addition:

  • The applicant must have an undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale in their major;
  • Applicants with a GPA between 2.5 and 3.0 in their major may be provisionally admitted to the program.
Take the Next Step