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 2024-25 application cycle, the General GRE or Physics GRE scores will be accepted but are not a required part of a complete application.  

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 1st.

The Physics Department recognizes that the Supreme Court issued a ruling in June 2023 about the consideration of certain types of demographic information as part of an admission review. All applications submitted during upcoming application cycles will be reviewed in conformance with that decision.

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 life at Stanford, click here.

The application deadline for this academic year 2023-24 (2024-25 admissions cycle) is 11:59pm Pacific Standard Time, Friday, December 15, 2023. 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 specific opportunities 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.  For those that are offered admission to our program, we will require submission of official transcripts 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 two years. 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 exam scores will be accepted but are not required in the 2024-25 application cycle (2023-24 academic year).

The Department of Physics welcomes graduate applications from individuals with a broad range of life experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds who would contribute to our community of scholars. Review of applications is holistic and individualized, considering each applicant’s academic record and accomplishments, letters of recommendation, and admissions essays in order to understand how an applicant’s life experiences have shaped their past and potential contributions to their field.

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.

Not all students have equal access to information on the graduate admission process. The department is interested in helping those who may need additional guidance in applying to graduate programs in Physics. If you are interested in attending a Q&A panel to hear from current graduate students about applying to graduate programs please fill out this form.


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 application process, please fill out the contact form on the Graduate Admissions website.