Study mode:Full-time Languages: English Duration:2 years
Foreign:$ 1.65k / Semester(s) Deadline: Mar 1, 2022
StudyQA ranking:257

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The Department of Physics at RWTH Aachen University offers a new international Master's programme in physics. Students enrolled in this programme have the opportunity to choose a desired course of study, focussing either on particle and astroparticle physics or on condensed matter physics, with an experimental or a theoretical orientation.
As a preparation for the study programme, the International Academy offers the Master's College Physics in close cooperation with the Department of Physics. The Master's College is designed for international students who want to participate in the Master's programme at RWTH Aachen and who might face difficulties during the study programme.
Before the official start of the Master's programme, these students will attend intensive bridging courses and training sessions that will boost their success during the programme. Additionally, during the Master's College, the students can fulfil requirements that are mandatory for the admission to the study programme.
The large Department of Physics in Aachen, comprising 11 research institutes, provides a rich variety of basic and specialised Master's courses and many opportunities to participate in top-quality research at one of the best technical universities in Germany.
RWTH Aachen University is a world-renowned institution in the international community of particle physics, both in theoretical and experimental fields.
The Department of Physics recently attracted attention with its participation in the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Geneva, in which the last sought-after elementary particle of the standard model, the Higgs-Boson, was discovered. Questions in astroparticle physics and cosmology are also answered thanks to the department's involvement in the AMS experiment on the International Space Station.
Research focuses in experimental solid-state physics are on quantum systems and the development of new materials. Here, the Department of Physics in Aachen profits in particular from collaborations with research groups at the nearby Forschungszentrum Jülich, as part of the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA). Topics in the theory of condensed matter range from the study of electron systems to research on quantum information.
As a technical university, RWTH Aachen offers physics students many opportunities to get acquainted with interdisciplinary topics in engineering. This is illustrated in the Master's specialisation field nanoelectronics, which is offered with the Faculty of Electrical Engineering. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology and the Helmholtz Institute for Biomedical Technology are also among the department's cooperation partners.
Overall, many features of physics studies in Aachen offer graduates an outstanding preparation for subsequent professional challenges, either in basic research or in industry.

Educational organisation

Before the beginning of the study programme, the Master's College enables students to adapt to the German university system and to fulfil requirements for admission. At the end of the first year of studies, students choose a Master's thesis supervisor at one of the institutes. During the second year, students will complete a Master's thesis research project. The precise form of the project depends on the research topic and is developed with the responsible supervisor. In the last semester, students complete their Master's thesis research and write their Master's thesis.
The international Master's curriculum is organised along six different tracks:
1) Experimental Particle Physics
2) Astroparticle Physics and Cosmology
3) Quantum Field Theory and Gauge Theories
4) Experimental Condensed Matter Physics
5) Condensed Matter Theory
6) Nanoelectronics
For each track, the first year of Master's studies comprises several mandatory courses as well as elective courses. The elective courses can be chosen from various specialisation courses offered by the physics faculty and researchers at the research centre in Jülich, as well as elective courses from other related Master's programmes. An overview of these courses is available in the course module catalogue. The available specialised courses can vary from semester to semester or from year to year. The curriculum is set up to offer maximum flexibility and allows students to select courses which prepare them to achieve the research goals of the second year of their Master's studies.
When applying for the Master's College, each student chooses a professor at one of the institutes. This professor will provide the student with scientific guidance. During the second study year, this professor will guarantee the supervision of the Master's thesis research project. In the last semester, students complete their work on the Master's thesis, write their Master's thesis and give a presentation of their research project (Master's defence colloquium).
Subsidiary subjects:
Courses from other Master's programmes can be selected in order to specialise in one of the following subsidiary subjects: astronomy and astrophysics, economics, biomedical engineering, biophysics, chemistry, energy technology, computer science, geophysics, crystallography, laser technology, aerospace technology, mathematics, patent system, philosophy, technical acoustics, process technology, electronic materials, physics of materials.
Some of these courses are taught in German.

Laboratory courses and research projects
The laboratory courses take place in special laboratories of the Department of Physics, which offer the best and newest equipment. The courses in the first year of study provide the qualification for the research project in the second year. The results of this research project are presented in the Master's thesis.
The research project can be chosen from one of the current research fields of the Department of Physics, the Forschungszentrum Jülich, or of another institute of the RWTH Aachen University. Please find an overview of the department's research activities here: Collaborations with the international partners in these projects is encouraged.

Master's College for Physics
The Master's College is a new entry platform specially designed for students with diverse scientific backgrounds. It offers additional valuable support from the very beginning to graduation. A Master's programme in Germany requires an undergraduate education that enables students to follow lectures at a very advanced and specialised level. To achieve this level, the Master's College offers bridging courses as well as close scientific guidance, direct involvement in research, and intensive social support.

Study abroad unit(s)

The Department of Physics maintains research and teaching collaborations with a large number of European and non-European universities. Thus, work with international research groups during the Master's thesis offers many opportunities to gain international experience.


An internship is not part of the curriculum.

Forms of assessment

For each track, the first year of Master's studies has one or several mandatory courses. In addition to the mandatory courses, a certain number of credits has to be acquired in elective courses. The second year of the Master's programme is dedicated to the Master's thesis, an independent research work in one of the fields of study. In Master's seminars and internships, students acquire a profound understanding of the relevant topics in the field of their thesis and proficiency in the related research methods. The results of the Master's thesis project are compiled in a scientific essay and elaborated in a presentation before the research group (Master's defence colloquium).
The Master's programme is completed when all modules of the curriculum have been passed, and the grade of the Master's thesis is at least "sufficient (4.0)". In this case, the student is awarded the academic degree of "Master of Science RWTH Aachen University (MSc RWTH)".

Course objectives

Graduates will acquire the following abilities:
  • to solve open-ended problems using their own initiative to develop alternative approaches
  • to work independently with patience and persistence, pursuing the solution of a problem to its conclusion
  • to acquire knowledge independently in new areas and transfer knowledge from one context to another
  • to acquire communication skills to cooperate with others and to discuss research topics and research results
  • to engage in interdisciplinary work, work in an international environment, supported by language and communication abilities, partly acquired through the experience of teamwork
  • to gain increased insight into the role of science in society and its implications

Domain-specific skills and competences
Master's level studies aim at specialisation and offer many choices which may include specific skills. The study focus is expected to form a coherent pattern in the choice of subjects.
Graduates will have knowledge and an understanding of a variety of subjects which they have chosen according to their interests, preparing them for current developments at the frontier of mathematics.

Graduates also acquire the following abilities:
  • to effectively study research literature on a specific area of mathematics
  • to knowledgeably and maturely transform real-world problems, which may or may not be structured, into a mathematical model in a realistic way, and to analyse this model with the available mathematical methods
  • to adapt the available mathematical methods and techniques and to extend them to the appropriate area of application
  • to carry out extended investigative mathematical work, as demonstrated in a Master's thesis

Language requirements

The English-taught Master's programme requires proficiency in English (oral and written) in order to understand lectures, textbooks, and manuals in English. English is also necessary for participation in laboratory projects, industrial internships, and examinations.
Proficiency in English must be proven by one of the following certificates:
IELTS certificate (score 6.0) or TOEFL score report (minimum Internet-based score of 80).
The TOEFL score report must not be older than two years in October of the year in which the Master's programme starts.
Certification of German language proficiency is not necessary in order to apply for an English-taught RWTH Master's programme. Successful applicants will attend an obligatory German language course which begins approx. six weeks prior to the start of the Master's programme.

Academic requirements

  • Bachelor's degree (or equivalent) in physics or natural sciences
  • Applicants for the programme must show their professional qualification by having acquired
    • at least 30 ECTS credits in the field of experimental physics,
    • at least 28 ECTS credits in the field of theoretical physics,
    • at least 23 ECTS credits in the field of higher mathematics, and
    • at least 21 ECTS credits in the field of physics laboratory.
These must be equivalent to the courses in the Bachelor's programme in Physics at RWTH Aachen University.
If your submitted documents do not prove sufficient qualification in these fields, your application may be refused or you may be admitted to the Master's programme with the condition of having to retake courses from the Bachelor's programme in Physics at RWTH Aachen University by the start of your Master's thesis.
Typical courses given as obligations are:
  • "Vernetzungen in der Experimentalphysik" (Quantum Physics and Modern Physics)
  • "Theoretische Physik III: Quantenmechanik" (Theoretical Quantum Mechanics)
  • "Theoretische Physik IV: Statistische Physik" (Theoretical Statistical Mechanics)
  • "Fortgeschrittenenpraktikum" (Laboratory in Modern Physics)
Examinations for these courses are offered every year during the Master's College in both English and German (except "Fortgeschrittenenpraktikum" which is passed after successful attendance of the exercise).
We highly recommend students who do not fulfil the conditions for admission to participate in the Master's College in order to achieve success in the programme. Of course, all other students are also welcome to register with the Master's College.

Enrolment fees

All students are subject to a social contribution fee of currently approx. 230 EUR per semester. This fee covers public transport for the entire state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Costs of living

The average cost of living and studying, including food, accommodation, personal and social expenses, and study-related costs, is estimated to be 700-900 EUR per month.

Job opportunities

International students may take up work in the private sector during the semester or the semester break for up to three months without having obtained a work permit. Therefore, students may take up full-time work for 120 days or part-time positions (up to four hours per day) for 240 days. This regulation is also stated on the residence permit. During the semester, students are allowed to take up jobs with working hours of up to 19 hours a week. During the semester break, students may work full-time, but only for a maximum of 13 consecutive weeks.
Student assistants are more flexible regarding working hours, as the 120/240 full-time and part-time regulations do not apply. As a student assistant, you are allowed to work for up to 19 hours per week throughout the year.
During the Master's College, students will receive assistance in finding a job.
However, it needs to be noted that the study programme is very intense, and a student job might distract from the studies.

Funding opportunities within the university

A limited number of scholarships from various organisations is available to help students finance their studies. Please see the following website for a list of exchange programmes, scholarships, and grants, together with their specific application requirements and conditions, and/or contact the International Office directly for advice and assistance.

Arrival support

The International Office Info-Service Center (ISC) provides information and services for international students and visiting scientists at RWTH Aachen University upon their arrival in Aachen. RWTH Aachen University considers the integration of international visiting scientists and students an important task and, in order to reach this goal, offers the following assistance to international students and scientists:
  • accommodation information
  • assisting students during admission procedures
  • registering your address with local authorities
  • opening a bank account
  • insurance matters
  • locating pertinent university and city offices
  • tips for finding a job in Aachen
These services are offered to students during the orientation phase at the beginning of each semester. The ISC offers a social programme called "Leisure and Pleasure" and publishes a monthly newsletter for international students and scientists.
The Master's College includes intense guidance during the first days. During the welcome day, students meet other physics students and professors. If possible, students are offered a shuttle service from the train station.

Services and support for international students

The support programme of the Master's College aims to fully integrate international students.
The Master's College assists with all questions concerning the studies and daily life in Aachen. In addition to the support of the RWTH International Office during orientation days, the Master's College offers comprehensive consultation on all possible matters.
Intense guidance regarding all formalities already starts before the arrival of the student.

Academic Support:
  • Fellow students programme: An experienced fellow student, preferably from the same research field, is assigned to the students. The fellow student is an advanced physics Master's student at RWTH or is working on their PhD thesis. They are the first personal reference regarding all questions about living in Aachen and studying physics at RWTH.
  • a professor of physics who functions as a senior mentor of the students in terms of their study focus
  • intense support and advice regarding the organisation of your study programme provided by the assigned fellow student, tutor, and senior mentor

  • The Master's College offers assistance in finding accommodation.

Social programme:
  • a welcome day for students of physics with participation of interesting companies
  • activities and quizzes to get to know the city of Aachen
  • newsletter and social media activities that keep students updated and connected to the university
  • social events such as a Christmas party, bowling nights etc.


Availability of university accommodation in Aachen is limited. Thus, participation in individual allocation procedures is usually required. Because of the high demand for university accommodation, it may be necessary to resort to the private accommodation market.
As apartments for families and couples are particularly high in demand, applicants interested in this type of accommodation will almost definitely need to draw on the private market. The majority of RWTH Aachen University's students rely on the private accommodation market.
There are a number of options for finding private accommodation in and around Aachen; the International Office can provide students with information before or upon their arrival.
Prices for university accommodation vary between 200 EUR and 330 EUR per month, and accommodation on the private market is priced between 290 EUR and 550 EUR per month, depending on the size and the number of rooms.
For short-term accommodation, there are many hotels, a few youth hostels and a boarding house located in and around Aachen (reservation is recommended).
The Master's College supports Master's College students in finding accommodation.
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