Applying For Graduate Admission

Why You Should Apply

We have excellent research programs in a broad range of areas in experimental and theoretical physics, and we strive to be a friendly, open, and supportive department in which all students have the opportunity and support to learn effectively and perform exceptional research. Our efforts to increase diversity and to support women and persons from underrepresented groups are aided by strong institutional support, including support for outside lecturers and other events from the Provost and from the WISELI (Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute) program, as well as fellowship support for incoming first-year graduate students, supported in part by gifts from former PhD graduates.

How To Apply


General Information For 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 materials (including the Graduate Record Examination scores, see below) via the online application system by December 15. Please note that all applications are to be submitted online.  Paper application forms are no longer accepted.  Once your Electronic Application Form has been submitted online, 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. Transcripts MUST be submitted electronically. Note: Official transcripts are only required upon admission. Paper copies of transcripts are only accepted after 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. We do not 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 to the Ph.D. program are required to participate in a six-week Summer Orientation for International Teaching Assistants (mid-July through late August). All such students should therefore apply for summer term. International students in the M.S.-Physics-Quantum Computing program should are not eligible for the orientation program and should apply for the Fall term. Since no other orientation programs are 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 information required by the Graduate School:

International Applicants

If you have received a bachelor's degree from a college or university 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. All international students in the Ph.D. program are required to participate in a six-week summer orientation program. Therefore, all such students must apply for the Summer term instead of the Fall term. International students in the M.S.-Physics-Quantum Computing program are not eligible for the orientation and should apply for the Fall term.

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.

If you do not receive an offer of financial support from us for the Ph.D. or regular M.A. or M.S. programs but still wish to be considered for admission, you must request this in writing.

Students in the M.S.-Physics-Quantum Computing program cannot accept research assistantships, teaching assistantships, project assistantships or other university appointments that grant waivers of tuition and/or academic fees.

For further information about tuition and fees, please see the funding guide from the Graduate School.


A beginning physics graduate student in the Ph.D. program is assigned a temporary faculty advisor who counsels the student on general program matters and on selection of courses. The temporary faculty advisor serves until the student acquires a major professor. A beginning student in the M.S.-Physics-Quantum Computing program is assigned an advisor who guides the student through the entire course of the degree.

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 many cases the professor who is to serve as the doctoral advisor 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 a doctoral advisor, the Department presents a series of Research Open Houses where students will have the opportunity to learn about various research opportunities in the department and tour research labs.


©2013 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System