Applied Physics

Applied Physics

Program Description

The Applied Physics program provides each student with a broad, graduate-level foundation in applied physics with degree requirements in the areas of mathematics, foundational physics, applications, laboratory work, and capstone courses. Analytic and numerical mathematics are important and students often take courses in both. Additionally, computational methods are used in many courses. Courses in electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, and thermal/ statistical physics provide foundational physics. A course in classical dynamics is also available. Applications courses build on the foundational physics as well as other courses and provide breadth to the curriculum. Air Force organizations that employ our graduates consistently value the ability of the graduate to apply their knowledge to problems of interest to the organization. These problems change as the graduate moves to new Air Force organizations so they value graduates with breadth. 

Students will take one of two educational tracks: engineering physics or space physics. Concentration in the two tracks is described below:

Engineering Physics: a broad range of applied physics topics, including the areas of laser physics, infrared systems, remote sensing, solid state physics, and plasma physics. Emphasis is placed on the application of basic physics to a variety of engineering areas, such as directed energy weapons, remote sensing, molecular dynamics, photonics, surveillance, and countermeasures.

Space Physics: encompasses the variations in the Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere, and subsequent effects of the space environment on the propagation of electromagnetic waves, communication, space operations, and manned space flight. An understanding of solar effects on the near-earth environment and ramifications on military operation is achieved.

Admissions Requirements

Degree Required: Physics or a major with at least 24 semester hours of physics. Academy graduates with Engineering Mechanics or Engineering Science are eligible. Undergraduate majors in Engineering, Meteorology, Astronomy, or Chemistry may also be approved by faculty review.

Mathematics Required: Ordinary Differential Equations

Test Required: GRE - 153V/148Q  (within the last five years)

GPA Required: Overall - 3.0; Mathematics - 3.0; Major - 3.0

USAF Education Codes: 8HYY, Physics, General; 8HCY, Atomic and Molecular Physics; 8HEY, Electromagnetism; 8HFY, Electronics; 8HHY, Engineering Physics; 8HKY, Nuclear Effects Physics; 8HLY, Nuclear Physics; 8HMY, Optics; 8HMJ, Lasers; 8HNY, Physics of Fluids (Plasmas); 8HOY, Solid State Physics; 8HFG, Physics, Semiconductor Devices; 8HMA, Physics, Atmosphere and Space Optics; 8HMH, Physics, Infrared, Incompressible Fluid Dynamics; 8HNJ, Plasma Physics; 8FDA, Aeronomy; 8FDD, Ionospheric Environment; 8FDY, Solar and Space Sciences

Waivers to the above criteria may be granted on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, individuals whose academic credentials fall below any of the above criteria are encouraged to apply.

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Outcomes & Objectives

Program Educational Objectives (PEOs)

The PEOs of the Applied Physics program identify desired capabilities and anticipated activities of our graduates three years after graduation:

  • Direct or perform research; conduct and evaluate design and analysis; and communicate their work clearly, working independently and in groups, with a focus on applications of interest to the commands to which they are assigned after graduation.

  • Learn program details and technologies in their new areas of responsibility and apply the skills and tools learned at the Air Force Institute of Technology.

  •  Apply knowledge and skills to solve problems that arise in the technical work they conduct or supervise.

  • Study an issue, identify and evaluate alternative actions, propose appropriate courses of action, and identify optimal choices.

  • Develop and implement programs, working within their organizations, to implement the chosen solution.
  • Write, edit, and/or supervise the preparation by contractors or subordinates of written reports, journal articles, military briefings, and professional presentations that clearly communicate their work and support the needs of decision makers; present their ideas effectively and defend them appropriately.

  • Develop and implement, or sustain and improve, programs that entail multidisciplinary research, simulation, modeling, engineering design, production, and/or fielding of engineered systems.

Program Outcomes (POs)

The POs of the Applied Physics program identify desired capabilities and anticipated activities of our graduates upon degree completion:

  • Apply advanced concepts in mathematics and physics, including analytic and computational methods, electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, and statistical physics, to applications in the areas of laser/optics technology, materials physics, plasma physics, space physics, nuclear physics, and atmospheric science which support AF and DOD mission requirements.

  • Perform research, design, and analysis, working independently and in groups, with a focus on applications of interest to the Commands for which they are assigned after graduation.

  • Understand and critically evaluate technical communications in the form of journal articles, research proposals, and conference presentations and contribute and communicate their results and understanding in these same forums.

Degree Information

Degree Type: Master's

Delivery Method: In-Residence

Degree Requirements

  • Mathematics at 500-level or higher (4 credit hours)
  • Foundational Physics (12 credit hours)
  • Applications Courses (12 credit hours)
  • Graduate Laboratory (4 credit hours)
  • Capstone Course (4 credit hours)
  • Thesis Research (12 credit hours)

Graduate School Catalog

Faculty Research Areas

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Air Force Institute of Technology
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Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH 45433-7765
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