Graduate Admissions

For Prospective Graduate Students:

Welcome and thank you for your interest in the graduate program in physics. When Applying to the Physics program, please proceed directly to Graduate Admissions.  

The deadline for the application is December 15th.

Please consult the Graduate School website to find the list of required materials .

In the evaluation of each applicant, the Physics Department looks primarily for the promise to perform forefront research in either experiment, theory, or some combination. Admissions decisions are made during February by a special committee of physics faculty members. The Admissions Committee seeks all the relevant information it can gather in order to assess each candidate's interest in and potential for advanced research in physics. Admitted students begin their physics study the following September -- they never begin the program in January. Because of the small number of students, typically 20 per class, applicants are admitted only as candidates for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. There is no separate Master of Arts program and no provision for part-time students. However, an M.A. is awarded to those who desire it after they have passed their Generals requirements.

Advice to potential applicants:

We look for people with a strong physics background. This is generally reflected in your performance in physics courses and in your research experience.  An undergraduate degree in physics is not required, but your coursework must include the core of an undergrad physics program: mechanics, electricity & magnetism, thermal and statistical physics, quantum mechanics, and experimental (lab) work.   We look at your undergraduate record for breadth, depth, and performance.

The GRE, Physics Subject Matter Test and spring 2020 semester grades information in response to COVID-19:

The Physics Department recognizes the challenges many families have endured during this crisis.  For the 2020/2021 application only, both the General and Physics Subject exams will be optional.   You are required to submit your grades to the Graduate School from the spring semester, although this information will be reviewed in the context of the unprecedented context.

Grades and test scores are important, but do not tell the whole story. We value research experience. Undergraduate theses or research projects in or out of class are of special interest to the Admissions Committee. For experimentalists it is important to have lab experience. If you are a potential experimentalist then in your application please tell us about any "hands-on" experience you may have, including hobbies or jobs involving mechanical work or electronics. Also, computer skills are very valuable both for experimentalists and theorists.

The Statement of Academic Purpose is another important tool that we use in our decision making process. We look for a thoughtful statement that shows signs of creativity and a potential for research. The statement must be convincing and coherent, based on some familiarity with the proposed area of research. It is often helpful if you can relate your research and interests to the research of specific faculty and groups at Princeton. View our suggestions about the statement.

Finally, we pay much attention to letters of recommendation by people who really know you and can provide relevant information about your potential for a future in physics. Recommendation letters should help us evaluate your capacity for research, a most important criterion for admission. If possible, choose recommenders who are familiar with the graduate physics program at Princeton and can gauge your ability compared to previous Princeton students. Along with the reference form in your application packet, give the advisors the following letter offering guidelines: Letter for Recommenders

And lastly, there are many physicists working on interesting physics problems in other departments at Princeton University. You might want to look at the web pages of the following departments:

Astrophysical Sciences Plasma Physics Electrical Engineering
Chemistry Molecular Biology Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Advice to foreign students:

We pay attention to TOEFL scores. If you plan to apply to Princeton, please work on improving your spoken English skills. You will need to pass a demanding spoken English test by the end of your first year in Princeton. It is possible that a phone interview will be arranged with foreign candidates before admission to ascertain their spoken English abilities.