Master's Qualifying exam

This page describes the master's qualifying (proficiency) examination required for students in the physics M.S. and Ph.D. programs. It will be waived based upon a physics GRE score of more than 50%. Also, students entering with a M.S. degree in physics are not required to take this exam.

Students entering the program should attempt to take the examination during their first year and are required to pass it before they complete their second year.

The exam consists of 25 questions covering undergraduate physics split into sections on special theory of relativity, classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, waves and optics, and thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. The questions are similar in content to those used on the GRE physics exam. The test is split into two two-hour long sessions. The example exam #1 and example exam #2 can be used as a study guide. Only calculators provided by the department can be used on this exam.

The upcoming M.S. qualifing exam will be held on August 19, 2021*. 

  • 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.: part 1
  • 12:20 p.m. - 2:20 p.m.: part 2

*In case of high attendance, we will move those exams to Wednesday, August 18, same times.

Please note:

  • Register with Dr. Glatz by email ( at least two weeks before the exam.
  • No cell phones or other electronic devices are allowed during the exams! If one of these devices is seen being used by a student during the exam, their exam will be disqualified.
  • Accommodations for this examination will only be allowed with official documentation from
    the University’s Disabilities Resource Center (DRC).
    • Note that it may take several weeks to obtain official documentation, so contact the DRC well before the exam date.
    • The DRC coordinates accommodations for students with disabilities. It is located on the 4th floor of the Health Services Building and can be reached at 815-753-1303 or
    • Also, please contact Dr. Glatz privately as soon as possible so you discuss your accommodations.

Learn more about the requirements.