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Graduate Admissions

The selection of the Ph.D. students admitted to the Department of Physics is based on an individualized, holistic review of each application, including (but not limited to) the student's academic record, the letters of recommendation, the statement of purpose, past accomplishments, and talent for research in physics. Applicants should keep in mind that attributes such as persistence, enthusiasm, and intellectual creativity can play a significant role in the evaluation of the aptitude of a candidate to graduate school. For the 2020-21 application cycle, the General GRE or Physics GRE scores will not be used in admissions decisions.  We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed both the availability of GRE testing and the circumstances under which testing would need to occur, such that the test will not provide equitable information.

Applications must be submitted by the middle of December to be considered for the following Autumn Quarter. In January and February of each year, the Physics Department Graduate Admission Committee reviews each application. All applicants will be notified of their admission status by March 1.

The Department does not offer a separate program for the M.S. degree, but this degree may be awarded for a portion of the Ph.D. degree work with approval from the Department.

Graduate students have opportunities for research in theoretical physics, AMO physics, ultra-fast lasers, particle and nuclear physics, condensed matter physics, quantum information and control, cosmology, astrophysics, and gravitation. Opportunities for research are also available with the faculty at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in the areas of theoretical and experimental particle physics, cosmology and astrophysics, accelerator design, and photon science. In Applied Physics there are opportunities in the areas of theoretical and experimental condensed matter physics, materials research, quantum electronics, and novel imaging technology.

For additional information about graduate admissions at Stanford, go to:

The application deadline for  the 2021-22 academic year is 11:59pm Pacific Stanford Time, Tuesday, December 15, 2020. The application submission deadline is a hard deadline and no late applications are accepted, no exceptions.  We strongly suggest you do not wait until the last day to submit in case you encounter any difficulties.

The Department provides financial support for all enrolled students.  Please consult the Financial Support page for detailed information, including about specific opportunites that require separate applications.
Please make every effort to submit all additional required application materials listed below in a timely manner.
  • Three letters of recommendation, preferably including at least one from a research group.
  • Transcripts for each postsecondary institution you have attended as a full-time student for one year  (i.e. three quarters or two semesters) or longer.
    • Upload one scanned version of your official transcript(s) in the online application (see File Upload Requirements).  Official transcripts are preferred, however, if obtaining official transcripts is financially burdensome, we will accept unofficial transcripts at the time of application.  Official transcripts will be required for accepted students before matriculation.
    • Arrange for two (2) official paper copies of transcripts (academic records) to be mailed to the address below. If your college/university provides secure electronic transcript delivery, instruct your school to send the secure electronic certified transcript to  Please note that the secure electronic certified transcript must be printable.  Check with the registrar's office of your college/university to see if they provide a printable electronic certified transcript service.  If your university does not provide electronic transcripts that meet our requirements you must arrange for your official transcripts to be mailed.  If obtaining official transcripts at the time of application is financially burdensome, this step can be postponed.  Offical transcripts will be required for accepted students before matriculation.
  • The TOEFL exam is required for applicants whose first language is not English. It must be taken within the last 18 months. The TOEFL is waived for applicants who have recently completed or will complete a Bachelor's degree, or a 2-year Master's program, in the U.S. or in another English-speaking country.  See the Graduate Admissions GRE/TOEFL FAQ for detailed information.
  • The GRE General and Physics exams are entirely optional for the 2020-21 application season.  If you decide to submit them, the testing dates can be found here:


We encourage applicants with diverse backgrounds to apply to our program. We recognize that there are many different aspects to identity, including culture, socioeconomic and educational background, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical ability, life experiences, hobbies, and interests. Providing this information in the application assists the admissions committee in its goal of creating a diverse class. 

The department is interested in understanding and mitigating barriers to access to all of our programs, including barriers based on citizenship status, accessibility, or financial or logistical challenges.  If you are interested in our graduate program but there are barriers that limit your ability to apply given our current procedures, we would appreciate hearing from you.  Please fill out this brief form.


Physics Graduate Admissions
Varian Physics Building
382 Via Pueblo Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-4060
Note:  Stanford University and the Physics department are closed for the last 2 weeks of December.  Mail that does not arrive before the winter closure will not be delivered or signed for until January (so there is no need for express mail or overnight services).
We do not use the checklist functionality in the application system and request that you do not contact our office and ask us to confirm that your file is complete.  If you are missing any necessary materials we will contact you via email in early January or February.


For other questions about the process, please contact: