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Graduate Program Application Instructions

Thank you for your interest in the Physics & Astronomy Department Graduate Program at the University of Utah.

This webpage describes how to apply to our graduate program, including what materials must be submitted, where to submit, and other related information. For quick reference: All materials should be submitted by January 15th for admission in the following Fall Semester. Application fees are $55 for Domestic applicants, and $65 for International applicants on a visa or in need of a visa.

Admission Standards

Prior to commencing graduate study, applicants must have received a bachelor's degree from an accredited institute, college, or university. Although no single field of undergraduate specialization is required, applicants to the Physics program must have a thorough undergraduate background in the Sciences, and are expected to have mastered basic material in the following areas: Mathematics (calculus through differential equations), Physics (college physics with calculus, including mechanics), Chemistry (inorganic), and, possibly, Biology if needed in preparation for the focus of the intended graduate studies (e.g. in Astronomy or Biophysics).

All aspects of an application will be thoroughly considered during the evaluation process which usually will take place in the month of February. Applicants should have a grade point average equivalent to 3 or better on a 4-point scale in their Bachelor or Master degree courses. Subject area course grades above 3.5 and/or a trend of increasing GPA are considered positive indicators for applications. International applicants should be aware of University requirements for English language proficiency. This link provides more information. A complete list of application requirements can be found here.

Application Procedures

The Department of Physics & Astronomy requires all applicants to submit all application materials including transcripts online through the ApplyYourself system. Following is a list of material that needs to be completed and submitted through ApplyYourself for the review process. 

  1. Completed ApplyYourself Application: Read the application carefully. Omitted information can delay the processing of your application. Allow processing time of four to six weeks in the Admissions Office. Please select the Physics & Astronomy department on the appropriate line of your application.
  2. Transcripts: Official copies of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended should be sent directly by the institution. The transcripts may also be included with the other application materials if they are in a sealed envelope. For foreign institutions, include official transcripts in the original language and official English translations if the original language is not English.
  3. Letters of Recommendation: The Physics & Astronomy Department will review at least three but not more than five letters of personal reference from course instructors, research supervisors, or employers who are familiar with your abilities and performance. The reference should use Recommendation Form #1 in ApplyYourself.
  4. Personal Statement: The Personal Statement must include three parts, two pertaining to the applicants' Statement of Purpose in which the applicants are asked to (1) Tell something related to physics or astronomy that they find exciting; (2) Discuss their goals for graduate school and their future careers, and how these goals match the opportunities offered by the research programs in the Department of Physics and Astronomy (500 words maximum for each part). If possible, in part (2), applicants should identify specific faculty contacts and/or research programs of interest within the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Applicants should also address in this part of the personal statement how their backgrounds and life experiences have contributed to  their decision to pursue a graduate degree (500 words maximum). Part (3) of the personal statement should contain a table listing courses that the applicants have taken in their undergraduate or previous studies which have prepared them for the graduate studies at the University of Utah's Department of Physics and Astronomy. Please list for each course, the course title, the grade as well as the name of the institution where it was taken. List these course in a table, ordered into three categories: (i) Lower division undergraduate studies; (ii) Upper division and/or graduate level general physics courses; (iii) Upper division and/or graduate level physics courses of specialization (e.g. condensed matter physics, atomic and molecular physics, high energy physics, biophysics, etc.) if applicants have taken such courses. Do not list courses in this table which have not directly prepared you for your intended physics graduate studies such as a general education course.
  5. Financial Assistance: If you are applying for financial assistance, please indicate this on the ApplyYourself application form. The Department of Physics and Astronomy intends to be able to provide research or teaching assistantships for all qualifying PhD applicants. During the first 10 semesters of PhD study, The University of Utah Graduate School or the Department of Physics and Astronomy will provide a tuition waiver for semesters when a graduate student receives one of these assistantships.
  6. GRE Scores: All applicants should arrange to take the General GRE and have the results sent to the Physics & Astronomy Department. Official scores must be submitted before an applicant can be accepted by the University of Utah. If you desire any additional information concerning GRE tests, visit the GRE website. Submission of the Physics Subject GRE (PGRE) is optional.
  7. For International Applicants Only: TOEFL scores: An official report of scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System are mandatory as part of the application. All test dates must be within two years of admission for scores to be valid. The following applicants do not need to submit proof of English proficiency: Native speakers of English who are citizens of Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland); continuing students currently enrolled at the University of Utah and moving from one degree level to another, or one program to another (with a break of no more than two years between the 'change' from one degree level/program to the next).

Teaching Assistantship

The University of Utah Physics & Astronomy Department offers teaching assistantships to qualified graduate students pursuing a PhD. This includes a tuition waiver as well as a nine-month stipend. You must have an advanced general GRE test score to be considered for such a position. Teaching Assistantships are only available for applicants who have submitted all of their admissions materials by the deadline and are approved by the admissions committee. If you are applying for an assistantship, you must fill out the "Financial Support" section of the ApplyYourself Application.

Applications for admission to the graduate program are evaluated during the month of February. The recommendations of the Admissions Committee are sent to the Graduate Admissions Office of the University of Utah. The formal decision on admission is made by the University's Graduate Admissions Office, which will then notify you directly of its decision. Please note that on rare occasions the Graduate Admissions Office may decide against the recommendation of the Physics & Astronomy Department; consequently the letter from the Physics & Astronomy Department does not constitute formal acceptance.

Please submit ALL required materials via:

ApplyYourself Online Graduate Application

ALL official transcripts must be sent to:

Office of Admissions
The University of Utah
201 South 1460 East, Room 250s
Salt Lake City, UT 84112

If you have any questions regarding admissions to the University of Utah, please contact:

Graduate Admissions Coordinator
University of Utah
Physics & Astronomy Department
115 South 1400 East, Room 201
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0830 USA

Phone: (801) 581-6861
Fax: (801) 581-4801

Thank you, and we hope to hear from you soon!


Last Updated: 9/26/19