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FAQ's

Admissions | How To Apply | Financial Information | Graduate Handbook | Why Utah?

Frequently Asked Questions

Please direct questions about graduate program admissions, practices, and policy to the Graduate Coordinator at admissions@physics.utah.edu

Do you admit students to the Master's program?
What is the GPA cutoff?  
What is the residency requirement?
Is there a TOEFL cutoff?
What is the Versant Spoken Language Test and do I need to take it?
What application materials do I need to submit?
How do I apply?
When is the best time to start the application process?
Will I be able to get funding?
How do I get health insurance?
Can I mail my application?
How will I know if I was accepted?
When will offer letters be mailed out?
Do you accept applications for Spring semesters?
Do I have to have my reference letters submitted online?
Do I need to submit financial support documentation?
What is the application fee?
Can the application fee be waived?
Do I have to contact a faculty member to support my admission?
I haven't received a decision yet. How can I learn my status?
I received an offer letter. How do I accept? How do I decline?
I've been put on a waiting list by the department. Now what?
How do I become a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant?
What is a Tuition Benefit?
I'm on a tuition waiver. How many credits do I sign up for?
How long will my application take to process?
What is the application deadline?
Who can I ask if I can't find my question answered here?

 

Q. What kind of academic background is required?

A. First and foremost, applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institute, college, or university, beyond that, no single field of undergraduate specialization is required. However, applicants must have a thorough undergraduate background in the Sciences, and have mastered basic material in the following areas: Mathematics (calculus through differential equations) and Physics (college physics with calculus, including mechanics).

Q. What are you really looking for in an applicant?

A. Graduate students become members of our departmental community and representatives of the University of Utah as a whole. Your Personal Statement is an opportunity for you to tell us about your aspirations, research potential, dedication to success, integrity, and anything else about yourself that will help us understand what makes the U of U stand out to you. 

Besides what is listed above, the admissions committee appreciates specifics. If you have a particular field of study, or a specific career which you would like to go into, be sure to state it in your letter of intent. Also, it never hurts to contact professor(s) in our department who do research that you are interested in, and asking for more information, as a way of establishing a connection and introducing yourself.

Q. Do you admit students to the Master's program?

A. Our graduate program is primarily available to students seeking a PhD. Student's may be awarded a non-thesis Master's as a milestone on the way to their PhD. The Master's is also available to PhD-seeking students who do not complete the PhD program. 

We do, on occasion, admit Master's-seeking students. Students admitted to the MS program will need to have their own source of funding for tuition, such the GI Bill or a research fellowship. MS-seeking students should also secure a prospective research advisor prior to applying. Funding and research advisor information must be included in the MS application. 

Q. What is the GPA cutoff?

A. All applicants must have a 3.0 on a 4-point scale.

Q. What is the residency requirement?

A. After 45 credit hours, usually residency is established.

Q. Is there a TOEFL cutoff?

A. TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language) is for International students only. All international applicants should have a minimum TOEFL iBT score of 80. Please see the Office of Admissions Graduate English Proficiency page for more information. 

Q. What is the Versant Spoken Language Test and do I need to take it?

A. The Versant Spoken Language Test is required for all International students, after they have been accepted into the graduate program. All International students must attend the International Teaching Assistant Workshop (ITA). More information is available here.

Q. What application materials do I need to submit?

A. Please see Admission and How to Apply.

Q. How do I apply?

A. All applications and materials must be submitted through the ApplyYourself portal.

Q. When is the best time to start the application process?

A. The sooner the better if you are hoping to get funding. Applications are sent in as early as October, but the normal time frame is December through the end of January. It's important to ask for your letters of recommendation early in the process to give instructors and mentors time to compose a letter. 

Q. Will I be able to get funding?

A. Accepted PhD-seeking students who included the Financial Aid Application with their application materials receive an offer letter from our department outlining the funding options available. They have until April 15 to either accept or decline the offer. Eligible students can participate in the Tuition Benefit Program, which covers graduate tuition and provides health insurance. 

Q. How do I get health insurance?

A. Subsidized health insurance is offered to students employed by the department. More information is available here.

Q. Can I mail my application?

A.  All applications and materials must be submitted online through the ApplyYourself portal.

Q. How will I know if I was accepted?

A. You will receive 2 letters of acceptance, one from the department, and one from the Admissions Office that will contain your Student ID number and important registration information. Your accepted status is not official until you receive *both* letters.

Q. When will offer letters be mailed out?

A. Offer letters are usually mailed out in early March.

Q. Do you accept applications for Spring semesters?

A. No, we only accept applications for the Fall semesters.

Q. Do I have to have my reference letters submitted online?

A. Yes. Please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator if you need an exception.

Q. Do I need to submit financial support documentation?

A. Only international students must submit documentation of financial support.

Q. What is the application fee?

A. $55 for Domestic applicants, $65 for International applicants on a visa or in need of a visa. Application fee waivers may be available upon request. 

Q. Can the application fee be waived?

A. Yes. Please submit a request to admissions@physics.utah.edu 

Q. Do I have to contact a faculty member to support my admission?

A. No. However, if you have a specific area of research you would like to study, please put that in your letter of intent. It is recommended that applicants reach out to prospective researchers before applying. 

Q. I haven't received a decision yet. How can I learn my status?

A. If you are anxious about your admission status, you can contact the Graduate Advisor via email at admissions@physics.utah.ed. Please do not inquire about your admission status until after March 15. 

Q. I received an offer letter. How do I accept? How do I decline?

A. We ask that all applicants who receive an offer letter, inform us of their decision to accept or decline the offer by April 15 so we can ensure as many people as possible are awarded funding. You can accept or decline your offer in Apply Yourself. 

Q. I've been put on a waiting list by the department. Now what?

A. Our program is fairly competitive, and because of this, we have a lot of highly qualified students who send in their applications. Unfortunately we aren't able to accept all of them. However, a lot can happen between February and July. Therefore, we place applicants on a waiting list and when a spot opens up, we fill that spot with someone from the waiting list.

Q. How do I become a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant?

A. Applicants who are accepted with funding normally start out as Teaching Assistants (TA) or Grading Assistants (GA). Only those who are affiliated with a research group (which happens a year or so from your first semester) are eligible to become Research Assistants (RA).

Q. What is a Tuition Benefit?

A. Tuition Benefit covers tuition costs for accepted applicants who have been given funding. However Tuition Benefit does not cover tuition for labs or special fees.

Q. I'm on a tuition waiver. How many credits do I sign up for?

A. 9 to 12 credit hours per semester.

Q. How long will my application take to process?

A. Because your application is reviewed in both the Admissions Office and the academic department, it is difficult to estimate the exact amount of time before you receive a final admission decision. Your application and transcripts will be summarized by the Admissions Office and sent to the academic department for consideration. If the department recommends you for admission, they will send a graduate referral form to the Admissions Office. Then, you will be sent an official letter of acceptance from the Admissions Office. Students typically receive notice of acceptance by March. Rejection notices may take more time to process. 

Q. What is the application deadline?

A. All applications and materials must be submitted by January 15, 2021.

Q. Who can I ask if I can't find my question answered here?

A. Send an email to our graduate program coordinator: admissions@physics.utah.edu 

Last Updated: 8/26/20