Admissions Requirements

  • Hold (or, at the end of the current academic year, be a candidate for) a baccalaureate degree in physics or a related field from an accredited college or university in the United States or from an approved institution of higher learning abroad.
  • Have a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a scale of A = 4.0, computed for the last 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) of undergraduate work and a minimum GPA of 3.5 for previous graduate degree work, as required by the Graduate College. For applicants who are currently in the final year of a bachelor's degree program, the department's graduate admissions committee will consider both the overall GPA and the GPA computed for intermediate and advanced physics courses.
  • Be on track to complete 20 semester hours of intermediate and advanced college-level physics courses, not counting introductory courses in general physics, prior to graduation from the undergraduate program. Required courses include Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism, Intermediate Mechanics, and one or (preferably) two semesters of undergraduate Quantum Mechanics. Mathematics through (at least) advanced calculus and differential equations is required. Courses in light and in thermodynamics are highly recommended. Students who lack some prerequisite courses will still be considered for admission. If admitted, these students must take the prerequisite courses at Illinois as a graduate student.
  • Take both the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the GRE Physics Subject Test, administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Fill in your GRE registration number and test scores on the online application form AND have your official GRE Score Report sent directly from ETS to the Department of Physics by the application deadline.
  • Complete the online admissions application to the University of Illinois Graduate College. The online application requires a statement of purpose that describes your demonstrated potential for success in advanced physics research. Upon completion of the application, you will use the online application portal to invite three referees (prior physics instructors or research supervisors) to submit letters of reference on your behalf.
  • Submit the application fee using the online application portal. The fee is US$70 for domestic applicants and US$90 for international applicants.
  • (Applicants from non-English-speaking countries) Demonstrate proficiency in English language by taking the TOEFL or IELTS exams. Fill in your test scores on the online application form AND have your official test scores reported by the testing agency directly to the University of Illinois by the application deadline. See a list of countries exempt from this requirement.
    • If required, English proficiency test scores must be less than two years old from the first day of classes to be valid.
    • Naturalized citizens, permanent resident aliens, and immigrants from non-English-speaking countries may be required to furnish TOEFL or IELTS scores, depending on their countries of origin, their length of residency in the U.S., or the locations and media of instruction for previous institutions they have attended.
    • Applicants may be exempt from providing a TOEFL or IELTS score if one of the two following criteria is met: (1) completion of at least two years of post-secondary full-time study, as defined by the home institution, in a country where English is the primary language and at an institution where English is the primary medium of instruction, within five years of the proposed term of initial enrollment at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; OR, (2) completion of a graduate degree in a country where English is the primary language and at an institution where English is the primary language of instruction, within five years of the proposed term of initial enrollment.
    • Most students to whom we offer admission are also offered a Teaching Assistantship for financial support. In order to be financially supported as a Teaching Assistant, an applicant must provide evidence of spoken English language proficiency; this may be required even if the applicant's country of origin is exempt from language proficiency tests for admissions purposes. This requirement can be satisfied by providing an acceptable score on the speaking section of the internet based TOEFL, an acceptable score on the speaking section of the IELTS academic exam, or a score of at least 50 on the Test of Spoken English (TSE). Follow this link for further information.
    • Questions about TOEFL or IELTS requirements for U.S. citizens, permanent resident aliens, and legal immigrants should be directed to the Graduate and Professional Admissions Unit.