Thank you for your interest in the graduate program in the Department of Physics at the University of California, San Diego.

Application Information

Application Deadline for 2023-24 is: December 7th, 2022.

Online Graduate Applications for 2023-24 opens up on September 7th, 2022.

Web Address:

In order to process your application, we require the following documents uploaded online (Please don't mail or email documents):

  1. Official transcripts-accept scanned PDF transcripts only for application review
  2. Statement of Purpose
  3. Three letters of reference
  4. List of upper division STEM courses (use this template)
  5. (OPTIONAL for Fall 2023 Application) Graduate Record Examination (GRE); general and advanced physics scores - request ETS to report your scores to the Institute Code 4836
  6. Application fee: Domestic $135.00, International $155.00
  7. Electronic Graduate Application 2023-2024
  8. TOEFL Score Report / the IELTS Score Report (International Applicants Only) - request ETS to report your TOEFL scores to the Institute Code 4836. Official IELTS need to be mailed.

Incomplete files and applications received after December 7th, 2022 will be considered only if space is available.

TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition and IELTS Indicator

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, UC San Diego will be accepting the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition test scores and IELTS Indicator test scores for the 2021-2022 academic cycle. Applicants that do not have in-person testing options may submit the home edition scores as an alternative.

The university-wide minimum score for the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition is the same as the in-person TOEFL iBT minimum. Information regarding the TOFEL iBT Special Home Edition can be found on the ETS Website.

The university-wide minimum score for the IELTS Indicator is the same as the in-person IELTS minimum. Information regarding the IELTS Indicator can be found on the IELTS website.

COVID-19 Personal Statement Prompt Update

Graduate Division has created a new section to the application this year that gives applicants an opportunity to describe how COVID-19 has impacted their educational experience in relation to your academic performance, grading scale or research experience. For example: "For the spring semester, my university let us take two classes P/NP and I chose this because..." or "For the spring quarter, my college graded all classes as P/NP and we didn't have an option for a letter grade" or "For spring term, my lab was unavailable due to campus closure so I was unable to do experiments. Instead, I worked remotely on modelling related to my research project."

This section is optional, but applicants should complete this section so we can better understand their experiences.

Some topics to consider:

  1. How did you pursue your goals for research and advanced study in Physics during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  2. What grading system did your university adopt during the pandemic and how did this affect you?
  3. Were there any classes you planned to take, or research activities you planned to pursue but were unable to due to campus restrictions? What did you do in lieu of these?

GRE Update

The General GRE will not be used in our admission decisions. However, we recommend that PhD applicants take the Physics GRE subject test and submit the score with their application. If you are unable to take the Physics GRE subject test, we will still fully evaluate your application. All applications are evaluated holistically to assess an applicant’s preparation and potential for graduate coursework and independent research, which can be demonstrated in multiple ways.

No application will be penalized or placed at a disadvantage by not reporting Physics or General GRE scores.

Entrance Requirements

Entering graduate students are required to have a sound knowledge of undergraduate mechanics, electricity and magnetism, to have had senior courses or their equivalent in atomic and quantum physics, nuclear physics, and thermodynamics; and to have taken upper division laboratory work.

Attention 2023-24 International Applicants

Foreign students from non-English speaking countries are required to demonstrate proficiency in English via the TOEFL/IELTS exam.

The minimum TOEFL score required is 85 for Internet based (iBT) and the minimum TOEFL Speaking score required is 23. The minimum International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score required is Band Score 7 and the minimum IELTS Speaking score required is 7. The Test for Spoken English (TSE) is highly recommended.

International Students whose native language is not English will be required to demonstrate English language proficiency before they may serve as teaching assistants.

Revised for 2023-2024 admissions