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Graduate Admissions: How to apply

Online Application: Physics PhD Application

Please be sure to select "Physics" from the drop down menu on the application for what program you are applying for. The Astronomy and BioPhysics graduate programs are separate from the Physics graduate program, and must be applied to separately.

If you have any technical questions about the application (e.g how do I upload..., how do I enter_______ information, why haven't I received my confirmation email yet?, checklist status questions) please contact the Graduate Admissions Office at gradadmissions@osu.edu

General Admission Policy:

Admission to the OSU Physics PhD program is done through an individualized holistic procedure and admissions rubric that considers all parts of students’ applications. In addition to evidence of students’ research and academic accomplishments and potential, attributes such as persistence, creativity, initiative, collaboration, leadership, and potential contributions to a culture of inclusion can play a significant role.

For the 2023-2024 application cycle, general and physics subject GRE scores are optional, with no negative impact on applicants who choose not to submit them. Each application will have an initial holistic review without reviewers knowing if GRE scores were submitted. After this initial phase, GRE scores from students who chose to submit them could be considered as a “plus-factor” by some admissions committee members representing certain research areas, but would not be used to downgrade applicants who chose not to submit them.

We only review and accept applications for Autumn term. We have two graduate programs: a Master to Ph.D. Bridge program. We do not offer a terminal Master program.  

What are the minimum requirements that I need to meet, to successfully apply to the Physics Ph.D. program?

What are application deadlines?

Is there an application fee?

What happens after I submit my application?

We offer financial support for all of our admitted students in the form of Graduate Research Associateships (GRAs), Graduate Teaching Associateships (GTAs), and Fellowships, with a current minimum annual stipend of $2,585/month ($31,020/year) for GTAs and GRAs, and $30,000 - $36,000 for Fellowships.

** Self-funded or externally sponsored applicants should contact us with your intent to apply to our program, as we consider these requests on a case-by-case basis. If you would like to apply and you have sponsorship from an outside source, such as a company or government scholarship, please contact the program coordinator directly for more information. Her email address can be found on the Physics Graduate Student home page. 

Minimum Requirements

Applicants to the Physics Graduate Program must meet the following criteria of the OSU Graduate School:

  • an earned baccalaureate or professional degree from an accredited college or university by the expected date of entry.
  • a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative point-hour ratio (on the 4.0 scale used at this university) in the last degree relevant to the program of study earned by the applicant. For international students, the cGPA is calculated on the home institution’s grading scheme and the grade key on the transcript is then utilized to approximate an equivalent US grade based on the educational system of that country.
  • prerequisite training that will enable the student to pursue the graduate program to which admission is sought, e.g., upper level physics courses, lab or research experience.
  • International students must meet the minimum score requirement of an English proficiency test, as listed below. This requirement applies only to any applicant from a country where the first language is not English, unless a bachelor’s degree or higher was earned in an English-speaking country.
    • TOEFL- 550, internet based TOEFL (IBT)- 79, Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)- 82, International English Language Testing System (IELST)- 7.0

Program Requirements for Physics

For more information about Ohio State's Graduate School, please visit The Graduate School at OSU.

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Application Deadlines for submitting your application

International applicants: November 30th. All supporting materials for international students, including official transcripts, letters of recommendation must be received no later than December 10th. 

Domestic applicants: December 15th. All supporting materials for domestic students, including official transcripts, letters of recommendation must be received no later than December 20th. 

To have a better chance of winning a fellowship, please apply by December 1st. This deadline is not required but is preferred.

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 How to apply

Every applicant must start by completing an online application that can be found herehttps://gpadmissions.osu.edu Many of the required materials listed below should be uploaded with your application. Please read carefully, and be sure to complete the entire application. 

Additional, required, supplementary materials include:

  • 1 copy of an OFFICIAL transcript from all colleges and universities you have attended, where college credit was earned
    • This includes schools you attended for only a short time (even if the transfer credit shows on another transcript). 
    • Advising reports or PDF documents of web page listings of courses and grades are NOT acceptable.
    • Once received, your transcript(s) will be uploaded to your application by the admissions office. Sometimes that doesn't happen so if it is still missing after 5 working days from the expected receipt date, please email the admissions office at gradadmissions@osu.edu.
    • For further information please see the frequently asked questions page on the graduate admissions webpage.
    • If you have any difficulties attaching your transcripts, you can email them to gpadocs@osu.edu, and they will upload it to your application.
      • Please do not send your transcripts to our department, or to the Grad Studies email.
      • Please be sure to redact (black out) all U.S. social security numbers if your transcript copy would use that number.
    • Secured, electronic versions of transcripts can be sent to gpadocs@osu.edu.
    • Mailed transcripts can be sent here:

GP Admissions

Ohio State University

P.O. Box  182004

Columbus, OH 43218-2004

  • 3 letters of recommendation 
    • We will not accept any additional letters of recommendation beyond the required 3, even though the application system will allow you to request more.
    • Although the new application system requires you to enter information for you recommenders, it does not automatically initiate your request for a recommendation. You will receive a confirmation email, after submitting your application, that will give you instructions about how to request your letters. 
    • You will be able, and expected, to monitor the progress of your recommendations
    • Please visit this link to the Admissions Additional Resources page for further information. 
  • Statement of Purpose
    • The application requires a two-page Statement of Purpose (see below for Statement of Purpose prompt), and that you provide short answers to three questions.

      o You will find this prompt on the application, "Please discuss your academic record, research experience, research interests, motivation for obtaining your Physics PhD at the Ohio State University, and your long-term goals after obtaining your PhD. Please address any substantial gaps or blemishes in your academic record. In addition to evidence of strong physics scholarship and research ability, we are also looking for other qualities in graduate students that would help them succeed and would support and add to an inclusive graduate student culture and diversity of lived experiences. In addition to completing the short answer part of this application, you may include other examples of these qualities in your Personal Statement."

      o If you have any difficulties attaching your Statement of Purpose, you can email it to gpadocs@osu.edu, and they will upload it to your application. (Plea

  • Curriculum Vitae (C.V.) or Resume
    • Please limit to 1-2 pages   
    • This document should be uploaded with your application.
    • If you have any difficulties attaching your C.V. or resume, you can email it to gpadocs@osu.edu, and they will uploaded to your application.
      • Please do not send this document to our department, or to the Grad Studies email.
  • Official English proficiency test score  
    • This is required of international applicants or those who have held the status of U.S. Permanent Resident for less than one year.
    • Minimum scores required for admission consideration: TOEFL- 550, internet based TOEFL (IBT)- 79, Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)- 82, International English Language Testing System (IELST)- 7.0
    • If you do not meet the university minimum TOEFL IBT score (79), you cannot be considered for our graduate program.
    • We cannot waive the TOEFL requirement or consider scores near (but below) the minimum. 
    • TOEFL scores are valid for up to two years following the test date.
    •  Ohio State's institutional code is 1592. 
    • Applicants who are citizens of, or who have received a bachelor's degree or higher (4yrs or more) from one of the following countries are exempt from the English proficiency requirement: Australia, Belize, the British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.

Optional Supplementary Materials

  • Writing Sample (THIS IS NOT REQUIRED)
    • ​If you choose to further elaborate on any publications you may have (as publication should be noted in your resume) you may upload a list of publications, or an abstract
    • In total, you should not submit more than 1 page for your 'writing sample'
    • Please do not attach any papers, presentations, thesis, etc. They will not be saved, nor printed for your file. 
    • You should upload your list or abstract(s) in the writing sample section of your application
    • If you have any difficulties attaching this document, you can email it to gpadocs@osu.edu, and they will upload it to your application.
      • Please do not send this document to our department, or to the Grad Studies email.
  • Adding Course Data
    • ​​​​​​​Our intent is for gathering specific information related to the 4 core Physics topic areas only and additional entries will cloud the data we are trying to compile. Transcripts are reviewed in detail as part of our application review process therefore the committee will see the additional courses in physics or related subject areas.  If you would like to call attention to particular courses we suggest adding them to a section on your resume about further academic preparation beyond the 4 core physics areas.

  Please email gradstudies@physics.osu.edu if you have any further questions about our program or application process. Email the graduate admissions office at gradadmissions@osu.edu for any technical questions about the application.

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Application Fees

The application fee for the Physics PhD program $60 for U.S. citizens and $70 for international students. Information on requesting an application fee waiver is given below or by clicking the link in “Application fee”.  Please note that it can take up to 7 days for fee waiver requests to be processed so please plan accordingly for the due dates for submitting your application by the recommended or required deadlines.

Cal-Bridge students should please email gradstudies@physics.osu.edu to request an application fee waiver code.

If you do not qualify for any of the Graduate Admissions’ fee waiver categories but you have extenuating financial or other circumstances, please email gradstudies@physics.osu.edu to explain your situation.

If you would apply to the wrong program , please contact the admissions office right away and ask for their assistance in correcting your application submission.

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After Submitting Your Application

After you submit your application you will receive a confirmation email from gpadmissions@osu.edu. Please note that it can take a few days for this confirmation email to be sent. If you have not received it within 4 days of submitting your application, please contact the Graduate Admissions office gradadmissions@osu.edu. You confirmation email will assign you an OSU ID and Internet username (lastname.#) with directions to activate your account. You must activate your account to electronically prompt your recommenders for letters, and to monitor the status of your application. Please monitor your spam/junk mail. and send requests for letters of recommendation. 

Once you activate your account you can monitor the status of your application at http://appstatus.osu.edu  There, you will be able to:

  • Verify/update your contact information
  • Check your application status by clicking the Application Status link on the main page, then the Status link for the application
  • Review what items have been received (and what, if anything, still needs to be submitted) by clicking the Application Requirements tab

We begin our review process in early January. If we are missing any of your paperwork, we will contact you directly via email during that time. We receive a large volume of applications and it is difficult for us to respond to individual requests for confirmation of having received materials, therefore it is very important for you to take responsibility and monitor the status of your application and materials regularly on OSU's application system. 

If at any time you do not remember your ID, Username, or password, help is available at http://my.osu.edu. If you need assistance with the activation code request process, please visit 8help.osu.edu; or, contact the IT Service Desk by e-mail at 8help@osu.edu or calling (614) 688-HELP (4357). For those applicants who do know their current password, passwords may be changed or reset by following the instructions at: http://my.osu.edu, or by contacting the IT Service Desk.   

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We are only able to make offers to about 20% or fewer of applicants based on budget and other considerations, and unfortunately, we have to disappoint many highly-qualified students interested in our program.  

Applying to OSU: Belong@OSU Series

Hosted by The Graduate School and our campus partners, this 8-week series of virtual information sessions are designed to guide prospective students through the graduate school application process. Webinars are on youtube.

  • Crafting a Competitive Application 
  • Paying for Graduate School Without Loans
  • How to Write a Stand Out Personal Statement
  • Successful Strategies for Acquiring Strong Recommendation Letters

Page last updated 10/5/2023