University of Wisconsin-Madison Skip navigationDepartment of PhysicsSearchSite MapUW Home


UW Home Page


News & Events

Colloquia & Seminars

Research Groups


Prospective Students

Graduate Students

Undergraduate Students


Physics Library

For the Public




Find Us

Contact Us


Department of Physics
Graduate Students

International Applicants

If you have received a bachelor's degree from a school outside the United States or Canada, please  begin by reading the International "Who Should Apply" Letter. In the International "Who Should Apply" Letter, a link will be provided to the general application materials. Also read the Notice to International Applicants to Graduate Study in Physics. Lastly, all international students are required to participate in a six-week summer orientation program. Therefore, international students must apply for the Summer term instead of the fall term.

General Information for All Applicants

All applicants are strongly encouraged to present complete application packets to the Physics Department. If your application is complete when it arrives it can be processed faster and, in most cases, a decision regarding your admission can be made earlier. All applicants with complete files are considered for Teaching Assistantships, Fellowships, and Research Assistantships. To compete for fellowships awarded by the University, students must submit all application material (including the Graduate Record Examination scores, see below) via the online application system by December 15. Once your Electronic Application Form has been submitted online (paper application forms are no longer accepted), please upload transcripts and additional documents.

  1. Statement of purpose for undertaking graduate work. Must be submitted via the online system.
  2. Transcripts from each institution attended should be uploaded to the Graduate School application site for the initial application review. Transcripts should include the fall semester or winter quarter grades, if possible. We are unable to accept paper copies of transcripts until after a candidate is admitted. Transcripts MUST be submitted electronically. Note: Official transcripts are only required upon admission. A final official transcript must be mailed to the department upon admittance to the program. Documents must be issued by the school with the official seal/stamp and an official signature. International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation (including official certification of degrees and dates granted). GPA: For admission to the graduate program, the Graduate School requires a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 (on a scale of 4.0 as an A) for the past 60 semester hours or the equivalent of two years of undergraduate work.
  3. Three letters of recommendation to be submitted online (See Graduate School Web site for instructions). We can no longer accept paper Letters of Recommendation. These letters should be written by your research supervisor and professors of physics, astronomy, mathematics, or chemistry with whom you have had recent contacts. Applicants who are graduate students should ask at least one professor at the school where they are currently enrolled to write to us. Applicants who are not students should include a letter from a scientist with whom they are working.
  4. Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score sheet general and physics subject test results are required for consideration for admission. To compete successfully with other applicants, these scores should arrive in our office by December 15. Official scores should be sent by ETS to the graduate school.
  5. Resume- upload to the Graduate School application site.
  6. Questionnaire- at Graduate School application site.
  7. International students must fulfill additional requirements. International applicants who receive an offer of admission are required to participate in a six-week Summer Orientation for International Teaching Assistants (mid-July through late August). All international students should apply for summer term. Since there are no other orientation programs offered during the year and available financial support has already been allocated to students beginning their program in the Fall, it is extremely rare for international applicants to be admitted for the Spring term.

Please note that applications submitted without the application fee will not be processed. The application fee cannot be waived or deferred under any circumstances. Criteria for eligibility for a fee grant are available from the graduate school during the electronic application process.

Applicants who receive appointment offers from the Physics Department are automatically recommended for admission to the Graduate School. Although the Graduate School makes the official admission decision, it is rare for them not to follow the Department's recommendation.

See the following for information required by the Graduate School:

Tuition & Fees

The non-resident and resident portion of tuition and fees are waived for graduate students who hold at least a one-third time assistantship or University fellowship over the course of a given semester.

Teaching assistants, research assistants and project assistants with combined graduate assistant appointments of one-third time or greater will receive a remission of all in-state fees, except for the segregated fees ($555.64 per semester for full time students in the 2012-13 academic year).

If you do not receive an offer of financial support from us but still wish to be considered for admission, you must request this in writing.

The fees listed here are for the 2012-13 academic year for full-time students who have not reached dissertator status.

  • Wisconsin resident - $5,919.40
  • Nonresident without remission - $12,582.84
  • Minnesota reciprocity - $7,840.68


A beginning physics graduate student is assigned a temporary faculty advisor who counsels the student on general program matters and on selection of courses. The faculty advisor serves until the student acquires a major professor.

Thesis research is at the heart of the Ph.D. program. Graduate students are expected to take the initiative in seeking out a major professor to direct this crucial undertaking. A professor's decision to accept a new student will be based upon an evaluation of the student's potential for work in the area in question and on the professor's ability, at the time, to assume responsibility for an additional student. In most cases the major professor will offer financial support in the form of a research assistantship. If such support is not available, a student may serve as a teaching assistant while doing thesis research. To aid the student in the choice of a field of research and of a major professor, the Department presents a weekly "Introductory Seminar" during the Fall Semester in which faculty members from the various research areas describe their current programs, show their laboratories, and discuss matters of more general concern. The purpose of the seminar is to stimulate and broaden interest in current research and to develop contacts between students and faculty members.



Questions? Email physgrad at

Last updated: 10/29/2012
  © 2007 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System Top of Page