Prospective Graduate Students
Welcome to UIC Physics
Welcome to all prospective students, and thank you for your interest in our graduate program. The Department of Physics offers work leading to degrees in Physics at both the master's and doctoral levels. Our faculty members are currently conducting research and directing doctoral candidates in both experimental and theoretical topics in the major research areas of atomic, biological, condensed matter, materials, high-energy, nuclear, laser and molecular physics.
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Apply in Advance
UIC Physics only admits new students for the fall semester of an academic year, which starts in mid-August.
Please apply in advance of the following deadlines.
- December 15th to be considered for a University Fellowship.
- The Department of Physics will submit a nomination if you qualify. You do not need to do anything except submit your regular application by this date. Please do not mail in special requests.
- February 15th for International Applicants seeking a Teaching/Research Assistantship.
- February 15th (priority deadline) for Domestic Applicants seeking a Teaching/Research Assistantship.
Important note: It is the LAST required item that you submit that will determine when your application is complete and ready to be reviewed by our admission committee. The central application software is turned off on February and it is impossible to start a new application after that date. Review of completed applications begins on December 15th.
Admission and Degree Requirements
What you will need to complete registration
Application Instruction - Required and Optional Items:
The application is dynamic. Additional pages will unlock as information on the first few pages is submitted.
To complete the application you will need the following items.
- Academic credentials
- Domestic students can scan official transcripts (both sides) or upload official electronic transcripts. If you have attended an institution(s) outside the U.S. please follow the instructions below for international credentials.
- International students should consult this UIC admissions page and use the drop-down menu to view the requirements from your country(ies).
After reporting all post-secondary schooling on the Academic History page, upload required transcripts or other academic credentials, as indicated in the guidelines of acceptable U.S. and Foreign Credentials noted inside the application.
Do not mail any credentials to the Office of Admissions during the application process. Official credentials will be requested only from admitted students.
- Statement of Purpose – in 2 or 3 pages tell us about your academic goals past, present, and future including why you are applying to UIC specifically. You are not expected to declare a subfield or if you plan to be a theorist or an experimentalist if you do not yet know. Feel free to reference previous classes and/or instructors that have led you to apply to a graduate program in physics.
- Three Letters of Recommendation – You will need to submit the email addresses of three references, for example, instructors who have had you in their class or those who have supervised your previous work or research. After you submit the application, our admissions software will email your recommenders and ask them to upload their letter of recommendation.
- English Proficiency Requirements (not required of most domestic applicants) – Official scores must be reported
- TOEFL iBT or rPT
- IELTS Academic
- PTE Academic
- Education-based waiver
- Employment-based waiver
- See the Office of Graduate Admissions website for minimum scores and official score reporting procedures.
- GRE scores are now optional for the Fall 2021 application cycle.
- Official Physics GRE scores are optional.
- Resume or CV can chronologically tell us about your education and work history in an easy to follow format.
- UIC Application for Graduate Appointment, which includes a 300 word statement inviting you to tell us why you would be a good Teaching Assistant. It is a requirement for the Ph.D. degree to teach at least two semesters, and this statement will help us evaluate your interest and prior experience in teaching.
- Academic credentials
Minimum Requirements on Standardized Tests
Please note the following Minimum Requirements on standardized tests:
- International students should have a minimum score on the TOEFL exam of 80 (internet based test). This requirement cannot be waived by the Department.
- There is no minimum on the GRE and the Subject GRE is not mandatory. All aspects of an applicant’s background are considered in making decisions on admissions. However, high scores on the general GRE and the subject GRE are looked upon favorably.
Information for International Applicants
To be considered, you must first submit the UIC Graduate College Application. A few days after your submission of the Graduate College Application, you will receive an e-mail from UIC indicating that your application has been received and that you can now log into your application to upload both your credential requirements and departmental supplemental materials.
For International applicants who are offered admission:
International applicants offered admission may be asked to send a Declaration and Certification of Finances form along with a bank statement (please see notes on the Office of Admissions website).
This form should be submitted quickly after being offered admission. Delay in submitting this form can delay issuance of an I-20 immigration form. The deadline for receipt of these forms by the Office of International Services is May 1 or when our last vacant seat is filled, whichever comes first.
Please email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I apply for the Doctoral or the Master’s Degree program?
The UIC graduate physics program offers both Doctoral (Ph.D.) and Masters (MS) degrees and currently have around 85 Ph.D. students and 5 MS students. Our doctoral program is designed for incoming students holding a Bachelor’s degree in Physics, so if your end goal is a Ph.D. you should apply to the Ph.D. program.
Our MS degree students typically are:
- Those seeking to teach high school physics who already have a teaching certificate.
- Students applying for the Ph.D. program who have shown great promise in their coursework, but do not yet have the full scope of physics courses expected of Ph.D. applicants.
Is a MS degree required to apply for the Ph.D. program?
A Master’s Degree is not required to apply to the Ph.D. program, and our doctoral program is designed for incoming students holding a Bachelor’s degree. However, if you already have a Master’s Degree, it may enable you to move through the doctoral program more quickly with greater understanding.
When do Ph.D. students have to decide which area of physics and research group they will work with?
Typically our Doctoral students decide what research to pursue after they pass our departmental Ph.D. qualifying exam, which is given in January of every year. A majority of our students take the first two years to complete all of the coursework before starting their own doctoral dissertation research. Research opportunities are typically available on a trial basis with groups in the summer semester for students who have not yet officially joined a research group.
What is the Ph.D. qualifying exam?
For more information on this please see the UIC Department of Physics website: https://phys.uic.edu/academics/graduate-studies/phd-qualifying-exam/
What GRE scores are required?
The GRE is not the U.S. version of a national college admissions test like those in many countries, nor does it purport to be such a test. To read more about what the GRE tries to measure, please visit the GRE website.
- General GRE scores are now optional for Fall 2021 applications. However, we do not have minimum scores because we believe GRE’s are only one measure of one’s abilities and preparedness. Most applicants admitted have scores on the Quantitative section above the 70th
- Physics GRE scores are optional. However, we have found that good scores on the Physics GRE can really help an application, particularly in terms of possible consideration for Fellowships. We note that extensive preparation can often substantially improve one’s score on the Physics subject GRE. There are many test preparation publications and classes offered. Before you sign up for this exam, consider the amount of time you will be able to devote to preparing for the exam.
If accepted, will I be guaranteed a Teaching Assistant Position?
Almost all of our incoming graduate students will be offered a tuition waiver and a Teaching Assistantship. All Physics Graduate students at UIC hold 9-month academic year appointments as a Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, or some combination throughout the duration of their graduate work. Over the summers, graduate students are typically on a Research Assistantship, although a limited number of Teaching Assistantships
Program Contact Information
Mailing and Email Addresses
Department of Physics
845 West Taylor Street
MC 273, Chicago, IL 60607-7059
Campus Location: 2236 SES
Department Code: 17
Curriculum Code: 5432
Admission Codes: 20FS0240MS (MS); 20FS0240PHD (PhD)
Telephone: (312) 996-3400