Leslie takes a picture of herself in the mirror of a telescope

Grad student Leslie Taylor snaps quite the mirror selfie in the mirrors of a telescope she helped build in Arizona

a group of students standing in front of trees at an apple orchard

Students from the entering class of 2019 went apple picking together their first fall in Madison

PhD — Prospective Students

Apply – Physics PhD Program

Fall 2023 prospective students should apply for admissions through the Graduate School. Applicants must satisfy the Graduate School requirements for undergraduate grade-point average, bachelor’s degree, and English proficiency and submit:

  • Three letters of recommendation: The most impactful letters come from research advisors or other individuals who know you well and can speak to your strengths, experiences, an accomplishments
  • Official transcripts
  • Resume/CV
  • Statement of Purpose: Address your relevant experiences and future research interests and goals. Strong applicants will communicate their motivations for pursuing a PhD in Physics clearly, and convey how their research interests and experiences align with the strengths of the University of Wisconsin – Madison Physics PhD program

NOTE: The Admissions Committee will NOT require GRE test scores or consider GRE test scores for Fall 2023 applications.

Fall 2023 Physics PhD Program Application Deadline: December 15, 2022

Application fee waivers may be available; please contact physgrad@physics.wisc.edu.

All complete applications received by the due date will be considered. The program does not admit on a rolling basis–applicants are usually informed of admission status in early spring.


All admitted PhD students are provided with a guarantee of five years of financial support. Typically, a graduate student is first appointed as a teaching assistant. Teaching assistants assist faculty members in the introductory physics courses, generally by teaching discussion and laboratory sections. Later, as a research assistant, the student works with a major professor on a mutually agreed research project. Tuition is remitted for teaching assistant and research assistant appointments greater than one-third time or greater.  Most graduate assistant appointments are also eligible for a comprehensive health insurance package.  All students are responsible for their own segregated fees, which are about $600 per semester for full-time students, and any additional university fees.  Further information about the various types of assistantships at UW-Madison can be found on the Graduate School website.

piechart shows breakdown of $52560 annual phd student compensation: $30060 stipend, $15000 tuition remission, $7500 health care

infographic with facts and figures about PhD program


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Can I apply to more than one graduate program at UW-Madison?

Yes!  With one application to UW-Madison, you can apply to 3 different graduate programs.  Please keep in mind that you can only submit your application once and will need to submit by the earliest deadline for the 3 programs that you choose.  For example, the Physics Ph.D. program application deadline is December 15th.  If another program that you apply to has a January 1st deadline, you must submit your application by December 15th to ensure it is received by the earlier deadline.

What is the application deadline?

The Physics Ph.D. application deadline is December 15th.  All application materials must be received by this time to ensure consideration.  Test scores and letters of recommendation should be submitted by the deadline.

Where should I send my GRE & TOEFL scores?

The Physics Ph.D. program requires the official test scores (GRE and TOEFL) to be sent directly from ETS to UW-Madison.  The UW-Madison institution code is 1846.  Please be sure your test score report shows that your scores were sent directly to UW-Madison.  Test scores are loaded every few days during the peak admissions season by the UW-Madison Graduate School.  You can check your Graduate School application status to see if your test scores have been received.

NOTE: The Admissions Committee will NOT require GRE test scores to be submitted for any Fall 2023 applications, and will not take into consideration any submitted GRE test scores in our review process. | Full Statement

When will admissions committee decisions be made?

All completed applications are made available to the Physics Ph.D. Admissions Committee after the December 15th deadline.  The program receives over 450 applications each year and all completed applications are fully reviewed by the Admissions Committee.   All applicants will be informed of the admissions decision by the end of January.  All applicants who are accepted will be invited to prospective student visit weekend to be held in February each year.