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Graduate FAQ

Please direct questions about graduate program admissions, practices, and policy to the Graduate Coordinator at

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). The program of study does not include refresher courses, therefore, students without undergraduate quantum mechanics and electrodynamics courses (or the related foundational material such as calculus and differential equations) are rarely considered for admission.

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 personal statement. 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.

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. Contact the graduate coordinator for more information.

All applicants must have a 3.0 on a 4-point scale. Be sure to include the table of relevant courses as described in how to apply.

TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language) is for International students only. Please see the Office of Admissions Graduate English Proficiency page for more information about scores and ways to demonstrate English proficiency.

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.

Please see Admission and How to Apply.

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

It's important to ask for your letters of recommendation early in the process to give instructors and mentors time to compose a letter. You may list courses as "in progress" on your table of courses if you've yet to receive a grade. Applications are due by midnight (local time) January 15, 2022.

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.

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

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

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. We do our best to send departmental offers by mid-March.

Offer letters are usually mailed out in early March.

No, we only accept applications for the Fall semesters.

Yes. All letters of recommendation should be submitted by the letter writer through the Apply Yourself portal.

$55 for Domestic applicants, $65 for International applicants on a visa or in need of a visa. Application fee waivers are available upon request. Applicants needn't express financial need for a waiver code.

Yes. Please submit a request to

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

If you are anxious about your admission status, you can contact the Graduate Advisor via email at Please do not inquire about your admission status until after March 30.

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. If you do not see the option to accept or decline, contact the Graduate Program Coordinator.

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. We place some applicants on a waiting list and when a spot opens up, we fill that spot with someone from the waiting list. Students are admitted from the waitlist at the discretion of the Admission Committee. The waitlist remains active until the start of Fall semester, in the event that a spot opens up before the semester begins.

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 can happen a year or so from your first semester depending on the research area) are eligible to become Research Assistants (RA). RAships are available based on the availability of funding in a research group and, more broadly, that specific subfield. TAs and RAs receive the same stipend and financial support during their time in the program.

Tuition Benefit covers tuition costs for matriculated graduate students who meet the eligibility criteria. We strive to ensure that all PhD students meet the eligibility criteria during their enrollment in the program. The department generally covers fees not covered by the Tuition Benefit Program.

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.

International students can begin the I-20 document process and should make sure you have these materials ready as soon as you are admitted:

All applications and materials must be submitted by January 15, 2022.

Send an email to our graduate program coordinator: