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Physics and Astronomy

Master of Science (MSc)

Thesis-based program

Program overview

A global leader in research, the department of Physics and Astronomy offers exciting, diverse and competitive graduate programs. The thesis-based MSc in Physics and Astronomy appeals to students planning an academic career or wishing to gain research experience in physics, astronomy or radiation oncology. The program connects students with state-of-the-art experimental and computational facilities both here and at collaborating institutions, and with world-renowned researchers in one of six focus areas: Astronomy and Astrophysics, Complexity, Environmental and Isotope Physics, Radiation Oncology Physics, Quantum Information and Quantum, Atomic, and Molecular Optics, and Space Physics. These focus areas lie within program specializations that students apply to: Physics, Astrophysics, Space Physics or Radiation Oncology Physics (including Medical Imaging/Medical Physics). 

The MSc in Radiation Oncology Physics is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs (CAMPEP) and provides didactic background, research experience and clinical training for a career in Radiation Oncology Physics.  Most academic centres and Canadian radiation oncology clinics require a PhD.  However, many clinical physicists in the United States and elsewhere have a terminal MSc degree.

The department's per capita funding level is the highest within UCalgary's Faculty of Science. Admission is competitive, favouring students who demonstrate academic excellence and leadership.

Completing this program

  • Astronomy & Astrophysics: Research topics may include radio, optical, infrared and space astronomy, computational astrophysics, star formation, the interstellar medium, and general relativity.

  • Complexity: Research topics may include complex networks, self-organized criticality, statistical and computational physics, and non-linear dynamics.

  • Radiation Oncology Physics: Research topics may include intensity modulated and image guided radiation therapy, prostate brachytherapy, and stereotactic radiosurgery.

  • Space Physics: Research topics may include precipitation mechanisms, remote sensing magnetospheric dynamics, and the solar-terrestrial interaction.

  • Isotope and Environmental Physics: Research topics may include nuclear decay processes, the effect of human activity on the environment, the development of analytical and instrumental techniques as well as isotope composition of trace gases and aerosols, source apportionment studies, and isotope fractionation.

  • Quantum Information and Quantum, Atomic, and Molecular Optics: Research topics may include the study of information, communication and computation using devices that are governed by quantum principles as well as the interaction between light and matter.

  • Thesis: Students in this program are required to submit original research in the form of a thesis.


  • Astrophysics
  • Medical Physics
  • Physics
  • Radiation Oncology Physics
  • Space Physics
  • Computational Neuroscience (interdisciplinary)
  • Medical Imaging (interdisciplinary)


Researcher, technician, radiation oncology, medical or clinical physicist, professor, instructor, data science/mining, communications, journalism, entrepreneur, environmental, financial, strategic management and/or IT consultant, quantitative analyst, risk assessment, insurance, bioinformatics.

A master’s degree in physics and astronomy will give you the pre-requisite for a PhD.

Thesis-based program

Students are required to prepare a thesis and successfully defend in an open oral defense.


Four to eight courses, depending on specialization

Learn more about program requirements in the Academic Calendar

Classroom delivery

Time commitment

Two years full time; four years maximum


A supervisor is required, but is not required prior to the start of the program

Fees and funding

See the Graduate Calendar for information on fees and fee regulations, and for information on awards and financial assistance.

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Learn about faculty available to supervise this degree.
Please note: additional supervisors may be available. Contact the program for more information.

  1. Paul Barclay

    Paul Barclay

    Seeking Students
    Nanophotonics, quantum optics, nanoscience, nano-optomechanics
  2. Shabir Barzanjeh, Assistant professor.

    Shabir Barzanjeh

    Seeking Students
    Quantum Communication and Quantum Interface (optomechanics, electromechanics, circuitQED), Quantum Sensing and Imaging
  3. Christopher Cully

    Christopher Cully

    Accepting Inquiries
    Space Physics, Space-based, balloon-based and ground-based instrumentation, Van Allen Radiation Belts, Wave-particle interactions, Ion outflow, Kinetic plasma theory, Spacecraft-plasma interactions
  4. Jörn Davidsen

    Jörn Davidsen

    Seeking Students
    Complexity Science, Spreading & triggering processes, Fluid-induced seismicity, Computational neuroscience & the critical brain, Rock fracture & frictional sliding, Statistical seismology, Network neuroscience, Synchronization & chimera states, Sociophysics, Climate dynamics & climate networks
  5. David Knudsen

    David Knudsen

    Seeking Students
    Space Plasma Physics
  6. Placeholder Profile Image

    Denis Leahy

    Accepting Inquiries
    High Energy Astrophysics
  7. Placeholder Profile Image

    Nasser Moazzen-Ahmadi

    Accepting Inquiries
    Molecular Physics, Chemical Physics
  8. Daniel Oblak

    Daniel Oblak

    Accepting Inquiries
    Quantum Information
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    Rene Plume

    Accepting Inquiries
  10. Barry C Sanders

    Barry Sanders

    Accepting Inquiries
    Quantum Information

Admission Requirements


A minimum of 3.3 GPA on a 4.0 point system, over the past two years of full-time study (a minimum of 10 full-course equivalents or 60 units) of the undergraduate degree.

Minimum education

An honours BSc degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Engineering Physics, Astronomy/Astrophysics, or a related scientific field.

Work samples




Reference letters


Test scores

All International applicants must submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Physics subject score.

English language proficiency (ELP)

An applicant whose primary language is not English may fulfill the English language proficiency requirement in one of the following ways:

*Please contact your program of interest if you have any questions about ELP requirements.


For admission on September 1:

Canadians and permanent residents: Jan. 15 application deadline

International students: Jan. 15 application deadline

If you're not a Canadian or permanent resident, or if you have international credentials, make sure to learn about international requirements

Learn more about this program

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Science B 605
834 Campus Place NW
Calgary, AB T2N 1N4
403. 220.3618

Contact the Graduate Program Administrator

Visit the departmental website


Faculty of Science

Biological Sciences, Room 540
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB T2N 1N4

Visit the Faculty of Science website


Learn more about UCalgary by taking a virtual tour