Graduate school applications are specific to individual schools and can be found on department websites. Unlike applications for undergrad, there is no common app. For some schools, you will apply entirely on the department's website, for others you will do everything through the graduate school at that university, and in some cases you will apply through the graduate school but send some parts of your application to the department.  Every application is different and has different deadlines, so be sure to understand the requirements for each school. 


Generally, applications will require the following:

  • Application with personal information and academic history
  • CV
  • Personal statement
  • Transcripts (some schools require official transcripts at the time of application, others require them after admission)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • General GRE score
  • Physics GRE score
  • Application fee
  • TOEFL or IELTS score (international students)

For most schools, applications are due sometime from late November to January, but be sure to check with the individual school to get an exact date and time. To make applying less stressful, start getting all of you application materials together early. A simple timeline you might want to follow could be:


Summer before your senior year: 

  • Register for both of the GRE tests (and TOEFL or IELTS if you need them) and begin preparing for them.

Early Fall semester senior year: 

  • Ask advisors and professors to write your letters of recommendation. Keep them informed of the due dates and the way in which they will submit the letter. Some schools require the letter writers to send them directly to the department, others will go to the graduate school, and some have to be written in specific formats. Letter writers are humans too, so remind them often as deadlines approach!
  • Begin compiling a list of schools you might want to apply to. Look here for information about different programs and finding the right one for you. 

Mid Fall semester senior year:

  • Fill out the applications 
  • Write your personal statement
  • Make sure that your CV is up to date. 
  • Arrange to have your school send official transcripts to any programs that require them at the time of application. Remember that these are usually sent via USPS and can take a few days to reach the school you are applying to. Do this early so they are in before the deadline. 

Later parts of Fall semester senior year:

  • Submit your applications! Once you hit the submit button, keep checking back with the school (usually on the application website) to make sure they have received all of your application materials.