Graduate Admissions

How to Apply

Students who wish to be considered for graduate admission in Physics and Astronomy must submit an application to the Graduate School.  Applications must be made on-line.  The deadline for applications with a request for financial aid is December 31.  You must submit the following material in support of the application:

  • Completed on-line application form and application fee.  In the online form, you need to choose Physics and Astronomy to apply to this program. The application fee will be rendered during the on-line application process.  Applications are examined by our department as they are submitted.   Note: there is also a new multi-disciplinary program in Applied Physics for those interested in more applied work. You can only apply to one program.
  • Official transcripts of work completed or in progress at all colleges or universities attended.  While completing the on-line application form, you will be required to submit one scanned copy of your transcript from each school you have attended and upload the scan copy via ApplyYourself. Scanned transcripts should be exact duplicates of the official transcripts issued by your institution (bearing the institution's seal). Please do not upload foreign language transcripts unless English language transcripts are impossible to obtain. If you only have access to foreign language transcripts, your foreign language transcripts must be accompanied by an official English translation bearing the original ink signature and seal of the issuing university.

    Please make sure your scanned transcripts are legible before uploading them. Illegible transcripts will not be reviewed.

    If you are recommended for admission and decide to enroll, you will be required to mail one official copy of each of your transcripts to The Graduate School Admission Office as soon the transcripts are available. Your transcripts should be sent in sealed, unopened envelopes, directly from the issuing institution. Please be sure that your official transcripts list all the degrees that you have earned prior to enrolling at Northwestern University. Failure to submit all your transcripts (including degree awarding transcripts) by the end of your first quarter of study will result in registration holds.

    Please do not mail copies of your transcripts to The Graduate School before you have been admitted AND submitted your enrollment decision. Any transcript submitted prior to that point will not be kept and you will be required to submit those transcripts again. The Graduate School's address is listed below.

    Northwestern University
    The Graduate School
    Rebecca Crown Center
    633 Clark Street
    Evanston, Illinois, 60208
  • At least two letters of recommendation from professors familiar with your work. Letters of recommendation are very important, choose your recommenders wisely. The Graduate School's admission committees are interested in recommendation letters from those who are most able to assess your academic and research abilities in areas related to your field of study. Letters of recommendation must be submitted online. When you enter your recommender's contact information on the on-line application form, an email is immediately sent to your recommender with instructions. It is your responsibility to ensure that we receive all letters by December 31.
  • Results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  • Official Results of the advanced GRE in physics. For both the standard and advanced GRE exams, we will accept the results of exams taken before December 31 even if we do not receive the scores until after December 31.
  • For non-native English-speaking students, official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).  A minimum TOEFL score of 577 (paper test), or 233 (computer test), or 90 (Internet-based test) is required for admission to Northwestern.  Non-native English-speaking students who wish to work as Teaching Assistants must take the TOEFL-iBT (Internet-based Test) and achieve a minimum score of 26 on the oral part.  The paper and computer TOEFL exams are not acceptable to serve as a Teaching Assistant; these qualify you only for admission.  Students who have previously scored a 45 on the old TSE (Test of Spoken English) exam can also serve as Teaching Assistants.

The department does not offer a terminal Master's program, and only students who intend to pursue the PhD are admitted.  However, PhD students who satisfactorily complete the first year of classes and pass a comprehensive examination are eligible to receive a Master of Science degree.

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September 12, 2013