Graduate Admissions FAQs
Graduate Programs Administrator: Lisa Cacciabaudo Jefferson 362 | (617)495-4327 |
The Department of Physics at Harvard University welcomes all applicants to its graduate degree program.
If you are interested in applying to our program, please examine the physics department's areas of research.
You may also find it useful to examine the corresponding page for our School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).If you decide to apply to our graduate program, we urge you to review the GSAS information page for prospective students, especially the detailed application instructions and requirements, as well as the specific requirements of the physics program of study.
You may also find useful information at our department's web site.
For specific questions for the physics department, please contact us as email@example.com .
For more general inquiries about the admissions process at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), please visit the contact page for the GSAS Office of Admissions.
Admissions Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Click on a question to show or hide the answer.APPLICATION QUESTIONS
- Does the physics department accept applications for a master’s (AM) degree?
- On the online application form, I found a place to upload a "writing sample." Are writing samples required by the physics department?
- Are there separate deadlines for online and paper materials?
- I have applied to the physics program before. If I apply again, do I need to submit a full application with all the same materials?
- Can I apply both to physics and another program at the same time?
- Will my application be harmed if I apply to two separate programs?
- My undergraduate background is in engineering, and most of my technical courses are in applied math, applied chemistry, and applied physics. Is Harvard’s physics department the right program for me?
- I’m hoping to do observational astronomy/astrophysics at the Center for Astrophysics (CfA). Should I be applying to the department of physics?
- I’m concerned about which department I should apply to.
- I know that applicants are allowed to apply to two departments simultaneously. I don’t see an "add second department" option -- do I need to open a second application?
- Do I need to submit financial information with my application?
- How much funding do physics graduate students receive?
- How do graduate students without external fellowships secure summer funding at Harvard’s physics program?
- Are international PhD students guaranteed funding at Harvard’s physics department?
- Does the physics department permit part-time enrollment?
- What courses are required for candidacy to the program?
undergraduate major is in a subject different from
physics, and I did not take key physics classes
like statistical physics and quantum mechanics,
but I have strengths in other areas, such as high
GRE scores. Am I precluded from applying?
- Can I still apply for the PhD program if I plan on graduating from my undergraduate institution during the summer before the first fall semester?
- What are the course requirements for obtaining a PhD?
ACADEMIC RECORD and TRANSCRIPT QUESTIONS
application asks for a list of relevant courses
taken at my undergraduate institution. Do I still
have to complete that part of the application if
the courses are already listed on my uploaded official
I attended a university in another country, and the course names and textbook names are all in a foreign language. Do I still need to fill out the list of undergraduate courses on the application form?
- The physics department specifically requires that candidates submit additional documentation of their most advanced courses and textbooks used. Where do I submit that list?
- The application instructions ask students applying to the physics program to list the four most advanced physics/astronomy courses and the two most advanced math courses they have taken so far. May I list more than six total courses?
- As an undergraduate, I’ve taken several advanced theoretical courses that can’t easily be classified as either pure physics or pure math. In my list of advanced courses, should I classify these courses as physics or math?
- Do I need my undergraduate institution to mail in my transcripts for me, or can I mail them myself?
- If I spent a semester at another university under a study-abroad program, but all my grades are reported on my home institution’s transcript, do I need to send a redundant transcript from the study-abroad institution?
- I spent a few semesters at one undergraduate institution before transferring to another. Do I need to provide transcripts from both institutions?
- I am attending a one-year graduate program, and I do not yet have official grades or a transcript that I can include with my undergraduate transcript. Can I submit the graduate program’s transcript after the official application deadline?
- My university does not have an official policy of providing GPAs. Should I leave the GPA field blank on the application?
- I am an international student, and my undergraduate institution uses a numerical grading system different from the standard American system. Should I enter my numerical grade values in the application form? Should I calculate a GPA?
- My transcript is in another language. Do I still need to submit it?
- My university does not provide transcripts, but does provide an official form with a list of my courses and grades. What should I upload in place of a transcript?
- My university does not produce official paper transcripts -- my university asks students to provide their academic records department with an email address for sending out a secure link. Can applicants to Harvard’s physics program use this system rather than uploading and mailing an official transcript?
- If my hard-copy transcript gets lost in the mail, will my application be considered incomplete if I am unable to send a replacement before the deadline? Would my application be immediately dismissed?
- I submitted my online application without attaching the required list of my six most advanced physics and math courses. How can I get the information to the admissions committee?
- What is the official code for reporting GRE scores?
- Hardships make it difficult for me to take the GRE. Can I request a waiver?
- I have taken the GREs, but my scores have expired. Do I need to retake the tests?
- I am unable to take the GREs early enough for my scores to arrive by the official Dec. 14 application deadline. Will my application still be considered?
- I have taken the Physics GRE multiple times. Which score will be reviewed, the most recent one or the best one?
- Is there a lowest limit on acceptable GRE scores?
- What is the official code for reporting TOEFL scores?
- Do I have to take (or retake) the TOEFL? My circumstances make it inconvenient or difficult to do so, and my English is pretty good.
- My undergraduate university was not primarily English-speaking, but I later attended a master’s program at an English-speaking university. Do I still need to submit TOEFL scores?
- My undergraduate institution is in a non-English-speaking country, but English was the only language of instruction. Do I need to submit TOEFL scores, and, if not, how do I prove that I did my undergraduate work in English?
- I have a professor of English Literature who is willing to write me a certificate regarding my English skills -- do I still need to take the TOEFL?
- The application for admission permits more than three letters of recommendation, and I have four faculty members who are willing to submit recommendation letters for me. Would the admissions committee welcome a fourth letter?
- The online application for admission permits registering only up to four letters of recommendation. If I have more than four, how can I submit additional letters?
- Does the Harvard physics program have a written qualifying exam? If I have extensive academic preparation, can I take it at the beginning of my first year?
- There is a professor on your faculty whose research area lines up with my my interests and abilities. Can I do anything when I apply to ensure that I’ll be able to work with this faculty member if I am accepted?
- I am having difficulty getting my scanned transcript under the 2MB upload limit. What should I do?
- I have made a serious error in my submitted application. Whom can I contact for help?
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