MSc Physics

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We aim for a Master program with a broad selection of courses, covering all major aspects of modern physics. The Master program should encourage breadth, but it should also enable students to specialise if they choose to do so.

Teaser MSc Physics
(Photo: ETH Zurich/D-PHYS Heidi Hostettler)

The "Master of Science ETH" qualification provides graduates with a solid basis for entering the professional life. This qualification is also a pre-requisite for Doctoral studies. The Master stage takes typically one and a half years, the last half year of which is devoted to the master thesis.

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The admission criteria to the MSc studies in Physics are either a BSc degree in Physics from ETH or an equivalent preparation from some other curriculum at ETH or some other comparable higher-education institution. The details are outlined in the appendix of the programme regulations (PDF, 175 KB). Applications should be sent to the Admissions Office.

Categories of courses

As a student of the MSc curriculum you enjoy great freedom in your choice of courses. The courses will be a combination from a few categories:

Core courses

  • Theoretical core subjects: these complete the theoretical courses already begun at the Bachelor stage on an advanced level.
  • Experimental core subjects: analogous to the theoretical courses these complete the experimental foundations on an advanced level.

For a list of courses offered, please visit this page.

Elective courses

  • Elective subjects from Physics or Mathematics: the available courses are closely related to the research activities at the Departments of Physics and Mathematics. They are also a good preparation for a Master thesis.
  • General elective subject: you may complement your Master curriculum with some general courses given by other departments. For details consult the regulations (especially Art. 30).

For a list of courses offered, please visit this page.

Science in Perspective

  • Elective Compulsory Subject from the offer of "GESS Science in Perspective" in the Course Catalogue.

Proseminars and Semester Lab Work

Proseminars (Theory) and Semester Lab Work (Experiment or Theory): these are individual projects much like a small version of the Master thesis. They allow to become more proficient in research under the supervision of an assistant.

Master Thesis

The master thesis completes the curriculum, typically in the third semester. You will show your ability to conduct research on your own and in a well-structured way on an advanced level.

Frequently asked questions

Is the ETH Master programme the same as the Master courses in the US?
The role of the Master programme at ETH Zurich is distinctly different from what it is in other countries, for example in the US, where it is part of the "graduate school" programme on the way to the Doctoral degree. Entering the Master programme of the Physics Department at ETH Zurich is not part of the Doctoral studies, but leads to the Master degree. For a subsequent Doctoral program a new admission will be required and will involve contacting a potential advisor within the Physics Department.

Can I do my master thesis before taking the final oral exams?
Students can start their master thesis as soon as they have successfully finished their Bachelor studies, and they have fulfilled all the requirements for the admission to the master studies in physics, and they have obtained the 9 ECTS credits for their semester project (Semesterarbeit) including the oral presentation. Students can take the oral exams after finishing the master thesis.

Can I do both, my semester project and my master thesis at another university?
For the ETH master diploma in physics, 60 out of the required 90 ETCS credits have to be obtained at ETH, and only 30 ETCS credits obtained at another university can be allowed to enter the ETH master diploma. Therefore, if made at another university, either the semester project (Semesterarbeit) or the master thesis can be taken into account for the ETH master diploma.

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