Physics - Degrees - Main Title


Although the curricula are tailored to address Navy requirements, they are developed within the framework of classical academic degrees, meeting the highest academic standards. Each curriculum leads to a master's degree; however, additional study can lead to either an engineer's degree or the doctorate degree.

Physics - Degrees - Main Content 2

Master of Science in Applied Physics

Students working for the Master of Science in Applied Physics may choose a concentration (including thesis) in any area related to Combat Systems, e.g, in:

  • Tactical Missile Systems (Aeronautics & Astronautics Department)
  • Artificial Intelligence & Robotics
  • Software Engineering Computer Systems & Architecture
  • Data Bases and Data Engineering, Computer Graphics & Visual Simulation, or Computer Systems & Security (Computer Science Department)
  • Communication Systems, Computer Systems, Electromagnetic Systems, Guidance, Control & Navigation Systems, or Signal Processing Systems (Electrical & Computer Engineering Department)
  • Fluid Mechanics & Thermodynamics, Solid Mechanics, Dynamic Systems & Control, Materials, or Total Ship Systems Engineering (Mechanical Engineering Department) Electromagnetic Systems, Weapons & Weapons Effects, or Underwater Acoustic Systems (Physics Department).

All programs leading to the degree Master of Science in Applied Physics must satisfy the general Postgraduate School's minimum requirements for the Master's degree, must include an acceptable thesis, and must be approved by the Chairman of the Department of Physics.

Master of Science in Physics

A candidate for the degree Master of Science in Physics must complete satisfactorily a program of study which includes a minimum of 30 quarter hours of physics courses (not including thesis) distributed among courses at the graduate (3000 or 4000) level; of these 30 hours at least 15 hours must be at the 4000 level.

Upon approval of the Chairman of the Physics Department, a maximum of 4 hours of courses taken in another department may be applied toward satisfying the above requirements. In lieu of the preceding requirements, students who are qualified to pursue graduate course in physics when they arrive at the Naval Postgraduate School may complete a minimum of 20 hours entirely of 4000 level physics courses.

All programs leading to the degree Master of Science in Physics must satisfy the general Postgraduate School's minimum requirements for the Master's degree, must include an acceptable thesis, and must be approved by the Chairman of the Department of Physics.

Master of Science in Engineering Acoustics

The degree Master of Science in Engineering Acoustics will be awarded as an interdisciplinary program in accordance with the following degree requirements:

  1. A student pursuing a program leading to a Master of Science in Engineering Acoustics must have completed work which would qualify him/her for a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering or physical science. Credit requirements for the Master of Science degree must be met by courses in addition to those used to satisfy this requirement.
  2. The Master of Science in Engineering Acoustics requires a minimum of 36 graduate credit quarter hours of course work; at least 20 graduate quarter hours must be taken in acoustics and its applications. One 4000 level course from each of three of the following four areas must be included: wave propagation; transducer theory and design; sonar systems; and signal processing.
  3. An acceptable thesis must be completed. Approval of each program by the Engineering Acoustics Academic Committee must be obtained prior to reaching the mid-point of the degree program.

Doctor of Philosophy

The Department of Physics offers the PhD. degree in several areas of specialization which currently include acoustics, electro-optics, free electron lasers, space physics, theoretical physics, and nuclear physics. Requirements for the degree may be grouped into three categories: courses, dissertation research, and examinations in major and minor fields.

The required examinations are outlined under the general school requirements for the PhD. In particular, the Department requires a preliminary examination to show evidence of acceptability as a doctoral student. This examination may be taken before or after commencement of graduate studies at NPS.

The department offers the PhD in Applied Physics. This program requires 40 credit hours of 4000 level courses, but a portion of these hours may be taken in other departments in technical subjects related to physics.

Joint with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the departments offer a PhD in Engineering Acoustics.

Distance Learning Programs

Certificate Programs

ASW Certificate (274)

The ASW Certificate is designed to cover the basic principles underlying the use of sonar systems in anti-submarine warfare.  Navy officers who complete the sequence qualify for the 6301-L code. 

Inherently interdisciplinary, this certificate requires four courses which cover sound in the ocean, oceanography, signal processing, and search theory.

Further details on the courses which qualify students for this certificate are available in the academic catalog. 

Resident students who are unable to complete the courses while in residence may elect to complete the courses via distance learning.


Combat Systems Science and Engineering

The Combat Systems Science and Engineering Certificate addresses cutting-edge technologies and theoretical foundations of current and future combat systems.

The four survey courses comprising the certificate are geared toward the fundamental understanding of the physical principles governing combat systems and their integration, ranging from above and below water sensor technologies, weapons and their effects, and advanced weapon concepts underlying modern missile technologies. The required courses in the certificate are offered either in the Fall or the Spring quarters.

Students may complete the four-course certificate in two years taking two courses per year (Fall and Spring quarters), or double-up the course load and finish in one year.  

The academic certificate program must be completed within three years of admission to the program. A student must
maintain a 3.0 GQPR in the certificate courses to be awarded a certificate. When resident students take the certificate, they may substitute equivalent or superior resident courses where possible. 

For more details please consult

Engineering Acoustics (535)

NPS has been a leader in engineering acoustics since the early 1970's and now offers masters degrees in this field via distance learning.

The emphasis of this program is on the aspects of acoustics and signal processing applicable to undersea warfare.

Subjects covered include the generation, propagation and reception of sound in the ocean; military applications of underwater sound; and acoustic signal processing and communications.

One course per quarter is taken for a total of nine quarters and includes sequences from both physics and electrical engineering. Lectures are provided via video teleconference or streaming video.

Students can choose to complete a thesis to qualify for a Master of Science in Engineering Acoustics or to stop after completion of a capstone project and obtain a Master of Engineering Acoustics.

For more details, please consult the Distance Learning website.



The Naval Postgraduate School is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Engineering curricula accredited by the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) are Aeronautical, Electrical and Mechanical. The Administrative Sciences curricula are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration.



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