2 years
Master's degree
Scholarships available
Rapid City

About this program

Physics MS

Bolstered by its proximity to the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF), the nation’s leading site for underground nuclear and particle physics, the M.S. program at South Dakota Mines provides unique opportunities for research into the underlying principles of the natural world. Our internationally recognized faculty lead students in searches for the dark matter of the universe, studies of the nature of the neutrino and the origin of the chemical elements, as well as research into condensed matter, e.g. phase transitions in ferroelectric and magnetic materials or quantum materials. Graduate students can also investigate topics in atmospheric physics. For more on the departmental research click here.

The mission of the physics M.S. program is to provide students with quality graduate instruction and research experiences that will prepare them for various career options in academia, industry, and at national labs. First-year students may be teaching assistants or research assistants; teaching load is light in order to allow an early start in research. Important milestones in the course of our program are the qualifying exam, typically taken after completing the required coursework, and the oral comprehensive exam, in which students defend their dissertation topics.

Admission requirements

Background Requirements

Students entering the program are expected to have a BS or MS in physics or a related discipline. Students with other backgrounds should contact the program coordinator prior to applying.

Admission Requirements

Required application materials include U.S. or international transcripts, statement of purpose, CV, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, and evidence of English proficiency. Physics does not require an international transcript evaluation. The GRE is generally waived for South Dakota Mines students. For more information, see the application instructions.

The Physics GRE is recommended but not required.

Successful applicants typically have a GPA above 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and GRE scores above the 50th percentile.


  • Fall admissions: February 15
  • Spring admissions: August 15

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Scholarships & funding

Financial assistance is dependent on the department and funding that is available in a given year.

Financial assistance is available for graduate teaching assistants (GTA) and for graduate research assistants (GRA).  A GTA handles laboratory sections, grades papers, or performs other assigned instructional duties.  A GRA is compensated to conduct supervised research, which generally relates to the student’s thesis or dissertation research.  

A full-time GTA or GRA is equivalent to approximately twenty (20) hours per week of assigned duties during the academic year. Part-time service is compensated in accordance with expected hourly effort. Completion of coursework and other degree requirements requires additional effort beyond compensated hours. Graduate assistants must be degree-seeking students and registered full-time (9 or 10 credits each fall and spring semester, and 2 credits each summer session) during the period of appointment. 

Approximately 50% of all graduate students receive assistantships. Graduate assistants who hold a teaching or research assistantship are eligible for a tuition reduction that covers 100% of tuition and program fees for campus courses. The general activity fee and other miscellaneous fees as applicable are assessed at the regular rate. Specialty courses such as field camp and remedial courses are not eligible fore reduced tuition. For an out of state Master's student, the value of a 20-hour per week assistantship with tuition reduction is at least $25,000 for the academic year. Ph.D. stipends are typically higher. Additional summer support may also be available.  

Admitted students will be automatically considered for research assistantship support based on the information provided in the admissions application. No further application materials are required. Financial awards are primarily granted to research students who begin enrollment in the fall. Graduate students wishing to be considered for financial assistance should submit their application and all required admission documents by February 15.


Total Estimated for the graduate I-20 — 2022-2023

  • Academic year (9 months) - $14,970
  • Living Expenses (9 months) - $11,120
  • Books & Supplies (9 months) - $ 1,200
  • Estimated Total for one academic year - $27,290

The estimate for living expenses includes only room, board, and health insurance, which is mandatory for international students. This does not include personal and transportation expenses, which you will still have. The institution estimates that you will spend approximately $3450 per academic year on personal and transportation expenses, so please be prepared for these expenses.

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About this institute

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology was founded in 1885 to provide instruction in the region’s primary industry, which was mining. And now it includes so much more. Over the years, South Dakota Mines evolved into a leading science...

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Why study at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

Life at South Dakota Mines is more than books, homework, and tests. It’s robot races on the Quad, blacksmithing on Friday afternoons, late-night hangouts with friends in the dorm, and cheering for your favorite Hardrocker sports team. It’s finding “your” people – friends who geek out at the same stuff you do, whether that’s esports, robotics, fossils, or chemistry experiments. You’ll work alongside “your” people in classrooms and on student teams and organizations. At South Dakota Mines, it’s more about collaboration than competition, and you’ll never be alone in your passions and interests.

Contact info

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

501 E Saint Joseph Street
57701 Rapid City South Dakota
United States of America

Phone no: 16053946884

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