Admission to our program is competitive. We are looking for students who have an aptitude for physics research and who have demonstrated through their coursework and other activities a firm foundation in undergraduate physics and the ability to work hard.
Thank you for considering the PhD degree program in physics at Illinois. Before you apply, please review our criteria and instructions below.
Getting Admitted to our Graduate Program
Graduate degrees at the University of Illinois are administered by our Graduate College. To apply, you will complete an online application through the Graduate College online application online portal. You will then submit supplemental materials by traditional post, per the table below.
The application deadline for Fall 2021 admission is January 15, 2021. All materials, including letters of recommendation and official test score reports, must be received by that date for consideration to our program. Appliations that are incomplete after January 15 are not considered.
We admit graduate students in the Fall only; there is no Spring admission.
It is your responsibility to ensure that your application is correct, complete, and submitted by the deadline.
Required Components of a Complete Graduate Application
|Documentation||Submitted By||Submission Method|
|Application Forms||Applicant||Create an individual account in the Graduate College online application and complete the forms online prior to deadline.|
Non-Refundable Application Fee
US$70 for domestic applicants *
US$90 for international applicants
|Applicant||Pay online with a credit card prior to official submission of your completed online application.
* Between September 16, 2019, and January 15, 2020, the Grainger College of Engineering is offering an application fee waiver to domestic applicants who apply to a Grainger Engineering PhD program and who hold a 3.5 or higher cumulative GPA in their undergraduate degree. Qualified applicants must select the option “Are you applying for the 3.5 GPA or higher app fee waiver?” from the dropdown box in the “Fee Section” of the online admission application. Applicants must meet the admission requirements (including application deadline) to enter the department’s PhD program in order to receive the application fee waiver. Applicants who have questions may contact Kim Sgarbossa, at email@example.com.
|Unofficial Transcripts||Applicant||Upload as part of your online admissions application.|
|Official Transcripts||Previous Institution(s) Attended||
Only after you have accepted our offer of admission, arrange to have mailed through traditional post one original transcript and certificate of degree from each prior school you have attended. Do not submit this during the application process.
Department of Physics Graduate Office
227 Loomis Lab
|Letters of Reference||Referees (prior physics instructors and research supervisors)||Register your referees (recommenders) within your online admissions application; from the online system, you will invite each to submit a letter using the online portal.|
|Statement of Purpose, List of Publications, Honors, Awards, etc.||Applicant||Submit online|
|Examination Scores||Submitted By||Official Score Report Submission|
|GRE General Tests (optional); Physics GRE Subject Test (optional)||ETS||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, institution code 1836|
|TOEFL or IELTS (if applicable)||ETS or IELTS||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The institution code for TOEFL is 1836.|
|TSE (Test of Spoken English—highly recommended if applicable)||ETS||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, institution code 1836|
Applicant's Proposed Program and Field of Specialization
On your online application form, you will be prompted to choose your Proposed Program or Department: select Physics from the drop-down list. For degree you wish to pursue, select PhD (we do not offer a traditional terminal MS program, the goal of our graduate program is the PhD). For Field of Specialization, type inside the provided text box the area(s) you are most interested in studying. Possible choices are included in the table below.
Fields of Specialization in the Department of Physics
|Theoretical Physics||Experimental Physics|
|Astrophysics & General Relativity (apply to Physics)||Astrophysics (also consider applying to the Department of Astronomy)|
|Atomic, Molecular, & Optical Physics||Atomic, Molecular, & Optical Physics|
|Biophysics (You may also be interested in applying to the Medical Scholars Program in the School of Medicine.)||Biophysics (You may also be interested in applying to the Medical Scholars Program in the School of Medicine.)|
|Complex Systems||Complex Systems|
|Condensed Matter Physics||Condensed Matter Physics|
|High Energy Particle Physics||High Energy Particle Physics|
|Nuclear Physics||Nuclear Physics|
|Physics Education Research||Physics Education Research|