MS-PSD students are required to complete nine courses, including a master’s thesis project for those on the thesis track.  Students choose from quarterly course offerings in physical sciences departments.  At least five of the courses must be graduate-level courses (300 or higher), and at least four of the courses must be graduate-level courses in a single department or associated with a specific interdepartmental track, such as environmental science, biochemistry/physics, computational methods in physical science, and optics/imaging.  To accommodate students who seek to broaden their knowledge of the physical sciences as well as those seeking to transition to a new field, students may be allowed to take as many as three advanced undergraduate courses in fields outside of their undergraduate majors.  In all cases the Director must approve the chosen curricula.

Students may take no more than two courses in Statistics, Financial Mathematics, Computational and Applied Mathematics, Computational Analysis and Public Policy, or the Master’s Program in Computer Science. Students who are interested in focusing in these areas should apply directly to those programs.


In the week before the Autumn Quarter begins, all MS-PSD students meet with the Director and the academic program staff to discuss the student’s academic goals for the year and plan the student’s curriculum. In advance of that meeting, MS-PSD students consult the course listings and schedules of the departments where they plan to take courses and submit a list of courses they believe would be beneficial in the Autumn Quarter. These course lists are available in the student portal,

After the meeting with the Director, students register for courses in the student portal. If courses also require instructor approval, the student is responsible for securing the approval and submitting this to the Assistant Dean of Students.

Full-time students register for three courses per quarter (300 units). International students must register for 300 units.


Students will continue to meet with the Director before the quarter begins to plan their courses and discuss their progress.

In spring quarter, students on the thesis track register for the MS Thesis Project course (PSMS 39900).  Students on the thesis track normally choose their projects in the winter quarter, carry them out during the spring quarter, and summarize their projects’ results in a required master’s paper.


During the first week of the quarter, students may drop courses or add new course requests through the student portal.  After the first week, all requests should be emailed to the Assistant Dean of Students.  All add/drops should be discussed with the Director and/or the academic program staff before these requests are made.

Course changes made after Friday of third week may carry a $50 Late Change of Registration Fee.  Courses dropped after Friday of third week will remain on a student’s transcript with a grade of W (for Withdrawal).

Students who are considering a reduction in course load, including withdrawal from a course, should discuss the financial ramifications with the Assistant Dean of Students and Graduate Financial Aid Office, if applicable. International students considering a reduction in course load must contact the Office of International Affairs.


Students with Category II Restrictions (Library, Bursar, Real Estate Operations, Immunization Office, Graduate Financial Aid Office) may not register until the restriction is cleared.  Students are notified of restrictions by email and they may look up their restriction in the student portal. All students are expected to clear all restrictions by the start of each quarter.  The Late Registration Fee is $100.