How to Apply

Submit Electronic Application for Graduate Studies

Admissions Requirements

The admission process begins with the applicant assembling the material necessary for the Admissions Committee to evaluate his/her qualifications. The required materials are listed below. In particular, we call your attention to the GRE/TOEFL/IELTS test requirements and the deadline for application (January 1st).

There is no separate application needed for a teaching assistantship or Fellowship other than checking the appropriate box on the main application form. The necessary forms (transcript request, recommendation, and Physics & Math course listing forms) can be requested in writing, by telephone, or by email sent to the address of the Physics Graduate Secretary. These forms are also available for printing as indicated below.

All applicants

All applicants for graduate admissions are required to submit:

  • Completed Application Form, together with a graduate application fee of $60 (US) for domestic applicants or $75 (US) for international applicants). The application MUST be submitted electronically through the Purdue Graduate School. More general information on graduate admissions can be found by visiting the Graduate School. A statement of purpose is required for all degree-seeking applicants. Please submit a statement of approximately 300-500 words concerning your purpose for undertaking or continuing graduate study, your reasons for wanting to study at Purdue, and your professional plans, career goals, and research interests. Please include a detailing of your special abilities, awards, achievements, scholarly publications, and/or professional history. You may also include an explanation of any irregularities or special circumstances applicable to your background.
  • Official transcripts from all institutions of higher education from which the applicant received a degree as well as those from all other post-secondary institutions attended. Unofficial transcripts are all transcripts and/or academic documents uploaded to the online application system. The Department of Physics accepts unofficial transcripts for review purposes only. The Department of Physics does require that you submit official transcripts and/or academic documents directly to our department if you are recommended for admission.

    Once you mail official transcripts to the Department of Physics and Astronomy, they become property of the University and will not be returned. We recognize, in very rare instances, that students may have access to only one transcript (or an extremely limited number of transcripts) or other academic credentials. In this instance, you may submit a request (at the time you apply) to preserve your original documents to the graduate program. Requests forwarded to the Graduate School will be considered on a case-by-case basis. For contact information, please visit Graduate Program Requirements Web pages.
  • Detailed descriptions of the physics and math courses taken by the applicant at institutions of higher education on supplied Physics and Math Course Listing Form.
  • At least 3 letters of reference completed by individuals who can provide an accurate and objective evaluation of the applicant should be submitted online at
  • SCORES FOR BOTH THE GENERAL AND SUBJECT (PHYSICS) TESTS OF THE GRADUATE RECORD EXAMINATION (GRE) administered by the Educational Testing Service. You should submit all your supporting application materials to:

    Attention: Graduate Application Materials
    Department of Physics and Astronomy
    Purdue University
    525 Northwestern Avenue
    West Lafayette, IN 47907-2036

International Applicants

Foreign applicants whose native language is not English must also submit:

  • The score from either the TOEFL or the IELTS, which is administered by the Educational Testing Service. An official score report not more than two years old must be submitted. The minimum acceptable score is 550 on the paper-based TOEFL 213 on the computer-based TOEFL and 77 on the Internet based TOEFL with minimum scores on the IBT in each of the four test areas as follows (writing 18, speaking 18, listening 14, Reading 19). An overall band score of 6.5 on the IELTS is required for admission.


The deadline for all application materials for admission in the fall is Jan. 1st of the year of admission.

This includes all supporting materials such as the scores of GRE, TOEFL and IELTS. Applicants are advised to register for and take these examinations well in advance of the application deadline, since these examinations are typically only administered a few times a year, registration is usually required a few weeks in advance of the test dates, and there is also a similar delay in the reporting of the scores to us after the tests are taken.

Financial Aid and Tuition

Almost all of the students entering in the fall have been awarded Graduate Teaching Assistantships, Graduate Research Assistantships or Fellowships. The most common form of financial assistance offered by the Department is the half-time (20 hours per week) graduate teaching assistantship.

Students on half-time appointments are often limited to take four courses (12 semester-hours), but they rarely take that many. Three courses is the usual and expected load for students not engaged in thesis research. Students may occasionally take fewer courses for a good reason; but if they prolong their studies unduly, they may have to do so without support from the Department. In particular, graduate students should not expect support from the Department if they do not qualify for the doctoral program by the end of their fourth semester. The Graduate School considers a load of 8 semester-hours to be the minumum level required for a full time student.

Though there are usually a limited number of teaching assistantships available during the summer session, most academic year nonresearch assistantships cease during the summer. Assistantships are normally renewed in the fall if the assistant has performed satisfactorily as an employee and has made satisfactory and timely progress as a student. For a nonnative speaker of English, the Oral English Proficiency Certification offered at Purdue is a requirement to sustain the level of support as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Students employed as graduate assistants during a spring semester and continuing, as graduate assistants in the following fall semester are eligible for the tuition and fee reduction during the intervening summer session.

Graduate assistants usually teach, grade, consult, or conduct research. The term of service begins one week before the beginning of classes.


The Graduate School provides several fellowships to entering physics graduate students each year. For fall admissions in physics, these include Andrews Fellowships, Ross Fellowships and Purdue Doctoral Fellowships for Black, Mexican-American, Native-American, and Puerto Rican United States citizens.  Andrews and Purdue Doctoral Fellowships are two-year appointments while Ross Fellowships are for one year. Recipients of all doctoral fellowships must be committed to work toward the Ph.D. All University fellowships provide waivers of almost all of the tuition and fees as well as insurance supplements. After the doctoral fellowships expire, the Department normally supports the students through teaching or research appointments.

Undergraduate preparation assumed

Good preparation in physics for entering students includes a sound knowledge of general physics, intermediate level mechanics, electricity and magnetism, statistical and thermal physics, and quantum mechanics. A corresponding mathematical background would include vector analysis, advanced calculus, ordinary differential equations, boundary value problems, and some knowledge of introductory complex analysis. Strong undergraduate preparation would be provided by adequate study of textbooks at the level of: Marion and Thornton, Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems; Griffiths, Introduction to Electrodynamics; Griffiths, Quantum Mechanics; and Reif, Statistical and Thermal Physics.


Questions specifically concerning physics admissions may be directed to:
Ms. Sandy Formica
Graduate Secretary, Department of Physics and Astronomy
525 Northwestern Avenue
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2036
Telephone: +1 (765) 494-3099
Fax: +1 (765) 494-0706
Last Updated: Aug 9, 2016 8:27 AM