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Department of Physics

Frequently Asked Questions

Carefully read the information below for admissions and application FAQ's.

 Admissions Checklist:

The Online application includes the following mandatory items: 

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Personal History Statement
  • 3 letters of recommendation submitted online
  • GRE scores - General is required and Subject is strongly recommended (if not taken, please explain why in your personal statement)
  • TOEFL scores - International applications only
  • Transcripts from each institution you have listed in your application (1 copy of each)
  • $90 fee for U.S. Applicants and $110 USD fee for International Applicants

General Questions

  • How many applications do you receive?
    • During the 2013-14 admissions cycle we received 441 applications.
  • What is the typical cohort size?
    • Approximately 20-25.
  • How long does it take to earn a Ph.D.?
    • Approximately 6 years.  Two years of coursework and 4 years to complete the dissertation.
  • How many graduate students are there in the department?
    • Approximately 150.


  • When are applications due?
    • Applications received by January 15th will receive full review. Applications received by January 5th will receive priority review.  All application materials (letters of recommendation, transcripts, GRE/TOEFL scores) must be received by this deadline.  Application material received after this deadline will not be reviewed and your application will be considered incomplete.  We do not admit incomplete applications.
  • How can I check my application status online?
    • Through the application website you can track the status of your application.  It takes up to 72 hours to update new information.
  • How much does it cost to apply?
    • $90 for domestic applicants, $110 for international applicants, see the application for payment details. 
  • Can I apply for a fee waiver?
    • A fee waiver is only available to US citizens and Premanent Residents.
  • Will you consider applicants for Winter or Spring quarters?
    • Applications are considered for Fall quarter only.
  • When are admissions decisions made?
    • The main round of acceptance letters will be sent in early February.  All admissions decisions will be made by May 31, 2016. 


  • Do I need to submit multiple transcripts?
    • Only one transcript for each university or college you have attended AND that you have listed in your online application.
  • Where do I submit transcripts?
    • Transcripts must be submitted electronically via the online application
  • What if my transcripts are missing my final grades?
    • Many students apply before completing a bachelors or masters degree, thus many transcripts are incomplete.  Please submit the transcript as is, and if you are admitted you will be required to submit a final degree transcript.

Letters of Recommendation

  • How do I submit letters of recommendation?
    • Letters of Recommendation must be submitted electronically by your recommender through the online application.
  • Can I submit hard copies of letters of recommendation?
    • No, hard copies of letters of recommendation will NOT be accepted.
  • Will the recommender be notified about the letter of recommendation?
    • Yes, the online application will automatically notify the recommender and provide instructions on how to submit their letter.


  • What are the GPA requirements?
    • UC Davis requires that all applicants have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
    • The average GPA for admitted students is about 3.7. 


  • What are the minimum Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores required for the Physics program?
    • The department does not have a minimum score cutoff, but competitive percentiles are as follows: 74 verbal, 89 quantitative and 55 for analytical (writing).
    • Applicants who wish to be considered for fellowships should plan to take the GRE no later than November 15th.
  • How do I submit GRE scores?
    • Please submit your GRE scores electronically directly to UC Davis.
  • What is the institution code and department code for the GRE?
    • Institution code 4834
    • Department code 0808
  • How long are my GRE scores acceptable?
    • GRE scores are good for 5 years from the date of examination.
  • Do you require the subject test for the GRE?
    • No, but the subject GRE is strongly recommended (if not taken, please explain why in your personal statement).  A competitive score is in the 62nd percentile. 


  • What are the minimum TOEFL scores required?
    • UC Davis requires a minimum score of 550 on the TOEFL paper-based test, 213 on the computer-based test and 80 on the internet-based test.
  • Do I need to submit TOEFL scores?
    • Yes, if you graduated from an institution in which the language of instruction was not English, you are required to submit a TOEFL score.
    • No, if you received a Bachelor's degree or Master's degree from an accredited school where the primary language of instruction was English then you do not need a TOEFL score.
  • How do I submit TOEFL scores?
    • Submit all TOEFL scores electronically through ETS.
  • What is the institution code and department code for the TOEFL?
    • Institution code 4834
    • Department code 76
  • How long are my TOEFL scores acceptable?
    • TOEFL scores are good for 2 years from the date of examination.