Graduate Program Overview

The M.S. in Engineering Physics program at Appalachian State University offers hands-on, laboratory-based courses that prepare students for entry into industry or a Ph.D. program. We work closely with our industry partners to ensure that our curriculum is modern and relevant. Graduates of this program tend to have tremendous flexibility in their careers because they can bridge the gap between scientists, engineers and technicians, which make them highly valuable to companies and research labs.

Over the last two years, of all our students who started searching for a job in the field before graduation

  • 86.4% received an offer before graduation and 
  • 100% received an offer within two months of graduation. 

The total employment rate within six months of graduation was 96.0% in the last several years. The average starting salary is $70,000.

The purpose of all concentrations is to prepare students for technical careers in industrial, governmental and independent laboratories. Graduates are also well prepared for a Ph.D. program. Students of the M.S. in Engineering Physics degree typically enter the program with little or no engineering experience and leave with a broad foundation in fundamental physics, hands-on practical and theoretical training in electrical engineering, and experience in software engineering for automation and robotics.

In addition, they have the troubleshooting and problem-solving techniques and tools for dealing with sophisticated technical problems and the versatility required for long-term success in a rapidly evolving technical environment. Our graduates are very competitive in the job market and have been very successful in both industry and Ph.D. programs.

The three concentrations that are offered are:

Two of the concentrations are Professional Science Master's (PSM) concentration. PSMs are a nationally affiliated degree that includes advanced training in engineering physics, along with technical writing and MBA coursework. In addition, many of our PSM students choose to pursue a dual degree with the MBA program. Overall, about 20% of our students spend an extra year to receive both an M.S. and an MBA. If business is not interesting to you, our systems and laboratory automation concentration allows you the flexibility to take engineering physics courses only or to pursue some coursework in other departments such as technology, mathematics, or computer science. This concentration also has a thesis option.

The M.S. Engineering Physics program has been hailed by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) as among the unranked list of the top 13 programs of Masters-granting institutions nationwide [PDF]. Our graduate faculty - those that teach and/or do research with graduate students - includes Dr. François Amet, Dr. Michael Briley, Dr. Jennifer Burris, Dr. Anthony Calamai, Dr. Daniel Caton, Dr. Sid Clements, Dr. Tonya Coffey, Dr. Richard Gray, Dr. Brooke Hester, Dr. Courtney McGahee, Dr. James Sherman, and Dr. Chris Thaxton. The faculty have extensive experience in industry, government agencies, and academics in fields ranging from electrostatics for NASA missions, to nano-scale materials characterization, stellar and Earth atmospheric studies, granular flows and fluid dynamics, atmospheric physics, biophysics, and optics. Primarily, the graduate curriculum and graduate student projects are focused on the Physics of Engineering - specifically of the study and development of instrumentation and automation for applications such as remote sensing, signal processing, astronomical control systems, manufacturing and testing controls, and robotics.

Application for admission to the program is open to any graduate of an accredited college or university who holds a bachelor's degree in physics, engineering, computer science, electronics, mathematics, or a related area.

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For more information, contact the program director - Brad Johnson (; 828-262-7318).

Physics graduate students group photo