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Instructions for Application Components

The Department of Physics & Astronomy requires all Ph.D. applicants to submit all application materials, including transcripts, online through the Slate application portal.  Please follow the below guidelines when preparing the required materials. At this time, official English proficiency scores are required as part of the international application packet. 

Application Details

Enter all requested information in the online forms.  Below we provide clarification regarding certain questions, organized by the tab inside the portal.

Academic Program

Under “Academic Program,” please select “Physics PHD,” as that encompasses all Ph.D.s granted in the Physics & Astronomy Department.  Under “Area of Interest,” please indicate the research group in the department that you would currently most like to work within.  These categories conform directly to the faculty research groups described on our research pages.  Note that the Condensed Matter Experiment and Theory groups are listed together on the website, even though in the application Condensed Matter Theory is grouped under the “Theory” category.  Select the following options if you wish to express your current research interests this way:

  • Astroparticle - General: You are most interested in astroparticle science topics but do not have a strong preference for working in either of the 3 subgroups over the others.
  • Theory - General: You currently want to work on theory topics in physics and find both areas of condensed matter and high energy equally interesting and currently have no strong preference for either over the other.

We use your selection to match admissions with research group needs, and secondary interests are available for selection under the “College of Science” tab.  These selections are used as a guide, but the personal statement should describe the nature of your interests more precisely.  For example, you may not yet know which area of physics you’d like to specialize in, and that’s OK: Be sure to clearly explain that in your personal statement.

Academic History

Upload an unofficial transcript for every undergraduate institution you have attended.  Upon acceptance into the program, you will need to provide official transcripts, including evidence of Bachelor’s and (if applicable) Master’s degrees, to the Graduate School.  Admission into the program is contingent on meeting these requirements.

College of Science

Select, if applicable, up to 2 other research areas of interest (see information under the Academic Program heading above for details).  Also indicate whether you would like to be considered only for the Ph.D. program, only for the postbacc program, or if you would like to be considered for both.  Please review the information on the postbacc program to see if it may be applicable to you.  The applicants for the two programs are assessed separately with differing metrics, and in general candidates will be suitable for only one program or the other.  However, strong applicants with non-traditional backgrounds may benefit from the postbacc program even though they would be competitive as a Ph.D. candidate; in this case, requesting to be considered for both programs would be appropriate.

Prerequisite Coursework

List all relevant physics and mathematics courses that you have taken in your previous studies that have prepared you for graduate studies in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Utah. Please list, for each course, the institution where you took it, term length (semester, quarter, etc.), its name/title, course number, number of credits, your grade, and the name/author(s) of the textbook used (in the additional details box).  The most important entry here is the textbook, since the other information is available in your transcript(s).  Include lower division undergraduate courses, upper division and/or graduate level general physics courses, and upper division and/or graduate level specialized courses (e.g., condensed matter physics, high energy physics, biophysics, etc).  Although not crucial, enter courses in each of these 3 groups together so that they will be listed together (if you forgot one, you do not need to delete courses to have it listed with the proper group—you can simply add it at the end).

Additional Materials

Additional Academic Materials: This is where you upload PDFs of your personal statement and curriculum vitae (CV).  These documents are your opportunity to tell us what makes you a great candidate for the Physics and Astronomy Ph.D. program at the University of Utah.  When preparing them, keep in mind our evaluation criteria, laid out in detail on this page.  It should be possible for reviewers to easily find evidence of that criteria in your statement and CV, as well as elsewhere in your application materials.  Do not be shy about repeating information in multiple places, or pointing to other documents for more details (e.g., in your personal statement, you might mention belonging to multiple student organizations but refer the reader to your CV for more details on those groups and your roles in them instead of describing them in the statement itself).

Your Personal Statement should be a single essay (approximately 500 words or roughly 2 pages double-spaced) that addresses both of the following topics and speaks to the review criteria:

  1. What is something about physics or astronomy that you find exciting?
  2. How do your goals for graduate school match the opportunities offered by the research programs in the Department of Physics and Astronomy?

For the second topic, please reference the research program webpages to familiarize yourself with the available opportunities.  You do not need to identify specific faculty or groups you absolutely intend to work with, but if certain individuals or groups match your current interests well, this is the place to let us know and describe why that research particularly interests you.

Additional Academic Information: These prompts are optional; however, it can be helpful to us for you to list your undergraduate GPA computed on a 4.0 scale.  If the second prompt applies to you (non-completion of another graduate program), this text box is your opportunity to provide important information explaining your situation.  Even if this topic is discussed in your personal statement, it is beneficial to repeat/expand on it here.

Additional Financial Materials: The application fee waiver code is UUPANDA; with this code, you should not have to pay the application fee upon submission.  We do not want our applicants to pay a fee, but the graduate school requires one, so the fee waiver code is available to all.

Additional Immigration Materials: If you have a document with an English proficiency score certification (for more details, click here), feel free to attach it as an additional page to the scan of your passport and upload both as a single document here.


Please provide contact information for 3-5 individuals who have agreed to provide a recommendation letter on your behalf.  An email will automatically be sent to the provided email address once the Recommender form is complete and “Send to Recommender” is clicked.  For the “Relationship” field, describe the capacity in which the recommender knows you, e.g., you were a student in their class, they were a supervisor for an internship or research project, etc.  It is good practice to follow up with the recommender to make sure they got the email and know the deadline that their letter needs to be submitted by (which will not be stated in the email that goes to them).  You can return to this page to check the status of letter uploads and remind letter writers as the deadline approaches.  For the letters to maximally benefit your application, you should waive access to the submitted letters.

Review and Submit

On the final Review tab, any errors (almost certainly a list of unanswered but required fields) will be indicated.  When no errors are found, you will be able to submit the application—once submitted, you will not be able to change any responses or documents provided through the online application.  If information needs to be updated after you have submitted (but before the application deadline has passed), please contact the Graduate Coordinator at