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Physics: Ph.D. Admissions FAQ

SU Physics Ph.D. Program: General Admissions Questions & Answers

When is my application due?

To be considered for our program in Fall 2023, please note that our priority deadline for application submission is December 9th, 2022. Applications received by the first deadline will receive priority consideration. Applications should arrive no later than January 15th, 2023.

Can I apply for a fee waiver for my application?

We have a limited budget for covering application fee waivers, and only do so in special cases. For consideration of a waiver, please submit a request to phyacademics@syr.edu. Please include your specific research interests here at our department, elaborate on your experiences, and attach your CV. Our committee will then review and get back to you. All waiver requests must be submitted at least 1-2 weeks before application deadlines to allow for time to review and process.

Do I have to have a prior Undergraduate (or M.S.) degree in Physics to be considered for admission?

We will accept applications from students with backgrounds in other fields. However, a prior degree in physics can provide support for your application.

Are GRE scores required? What is the minimum acceptable score?

General and Physics GRE scores are not required!

It is past the January 15th deadline. Will you still accept my application?

We will still accept applications after that date, but your chances of admission will be smaller. Please notify phyacademics@syr.edu that you have submitted late application.

What materials do I need to include with my application?

You should include information about your research interests and experience in the personal statement and CV that you submit with your application.

We also recommend you look through the research groups listed on our department’s website, and specifically mention research areas and/or faculty members you’d be interested in working with (and why).

Check the grad program page for more information about application requirements.

Does my personal statement need to be limited to 500 words or less?

We have no set requirement on the number of words, but please keep your personal statement 1-2 pages. You should upload it as a PDF into your application in the online application program.

How do I apply for financial support from the department?

Every new student who is accepted to the Physics graduate program within our department is offered some form of fellowship or graduate assistantship (TA or RA) for at least their first year, except in very rare cases.

Can my application be evaluated in advance, so I can know my chances of admission?

No. Your application can only be evaluated in comparison to the rest of the applicant pool before we can advise about your chances of admission for the upcoming year.

Please note we admit students to the physics program and not into a research group. Opportunities with some of our research groups are very competitive.

What is the average GPA of students accepted into your program?

Your application is considered in totality and in comparison to the rest of the applicant pool, so this can vary greatly from year to year and depends upon your fields and specializations of interest, your undergraduate program.

Which Faculty members will be taking on students in the upcoming year?

We do not post current openings during the application process. If you contact a faculty member directly and describe your research interests and experience, they may be able to answer that question for you.

How do I complete the part of my application that asks for proof of funding/support?

You can submit your application without the proof of funding information. If you receive an admission offer from the Physics department, it would be coupled with either a fellowship or teaching assistantship offer that would automatically fulfill the funding requirement in the application.

Is an unofficial/scanned in transcript acceptable?

Scanned copies of official transcripts are acceptable at the time of application, but if you are accepted into the program you must provide official copies to the graduate school before the end of your first year of study.

Can I include additional materials (for example a copy of a paper which I coauthored) to be reviewed by the committee?

You have the option to do so, but it is not required. Anything you submit will be factored into the decision that the admissions committee makes in regards to your application. However, a personal statement reflecting upon your research interests and experience is required.

I am interested in the Physics M.S. program. Are you accepting M.S. candidates?

The department only guarantees tuition and stipend support to students who are admitted to the Ph.D. program. However, some students may wish to enroll in the M.S. program supported by a third party (e.g. other industry or federal support). If this is the case, we encourage you to contact phyacademics@syr.edu prior to applying so that your proposed program can be discussed with the Graduate Program Director.

Do you conditionally admit students prior to the official admission cycle?

No, our department does not offer conditional admission to our Ph.D. program.

I am interested in applying for the SPRING semester. How do I do so?

We do not accept applications for spring admission, only fall.

Do you accept transfer students into the Physics Ph.D. program?

We will consider your application for admission, but your chances of admission will be smaller if you are already enrolled in a graduate program in physics in US. Please note on your application or in your personal statement that you are currently attending another university, and that you are looking to transfer. It is important to explain why you are looking to transfer after enrolling in another program. This could play a large role when the admissions committee evaluates your application.

When will admission decisions be made?

Most of admission offers will be typically made in January and February. Some admission offers will be made through March and early April. If we do not reach admission targets by April 15th, we occasionally make admission offers in late April. We rarely send rejection notices before April 15th.

I am an international applicant...

Are TOEFL scores required?

We ask all international applicants to submit TOEFL scores with your application. Good scores will enhance your application greatly, but there are no minimum scores required for consideration.

What is the minimum acceptable TOEFL score?

The average score accepted varies considerably from one year to the next, based upon the applicant pool. We rarely admit students with cumulative TOEFL score below 85.

Will you accept IELTS scores, in place of TOEFL?

Although the admissions committee prefers using TOEFL scores as a source for comparison among applicants, our admissions committee will accept IELTS scores in place of TOEFL if that is the only test you have taken.

I have already earned a prior degree in the US. Do I need to submit TOEFL scores?

In your case, a TOEFL score report is not necessary if you have several years’ experience at US institution.

Is my foreign transcript acceptable?

You need to include a document listing the classes you have completed, the grades you have earned, and any degrees you have earned. If this information is not listed in the standard transcript, please include an official university document that does include this information.

How do I convert the scores on my (international) transcript to a 4.0 scale?

We ask applicants to judge where their performance would fall on the following grade scale(s), to the best of their abilities.