2020 Applicant Profiles and Admission Results

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2018 8:10 am

Re: 2020 Applicant Profiles and Admission Results

Post by NinadKD » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:21 am

This is the most useful resource PhysicsGRE has to offer. If you have used this information in the past or are currently using it to help decide upon schools, I highly suggest you help out and post your own profile once you have applied to schools. Future members of this forum will find it very useful! Don't be shy!

Copy and paste the template below in your reply to keep the formatting.

Note from moderator: Profile threads are best when they only have profiles. Please avoid making other posts on this thread. If you wish to discuss profiles, it is helpful to have a separate "profile discussion thread", as was done in some past years. Thanks.

Undergrad Institution:Indian Institute of Technology-Varanasi..decent in India, known more for Mining,Metallurgy and Mechanical Engineering than Physics
Major(s):Engineering Physics
Minor(s): We don't do that here :( :(
GPA in Major:8.91/10
Overall GPA:8.3/10 :?
Length of Degree: 5
Position in Class: 4/14
Type of Student: International Male

GRE Scores : (revised or old version?)
P:940(meh :x ) (920 in 2018)

TOEFL: (R:30 , L:26 , S:24 , W:27 )

Research Experience:
1. Five months in Quantum Information during my sophomore year
2.One summer in neutrino oscillations(HEP)
3. 9 months on a numerical project in soft condensed matter
4.~15 months in topological condensed matter( manuscript in preparation..but could not finish in time for the applications)
5. 9 months post-grad, long distance internship on non-Hermitian topological matter

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Departmental fellowship on clearing a national level exam in which I stood 58th out of ~15k candidates

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: (Such as tutor, TA, SPS officer etc...)

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points:

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

Applying to Where: All for Condensed Matter Theory

Brown University - Rejected (31/01)
University of Texas at Dallas - Accepted via e-mail (11/02) First acceptance in over a year
Stony Brook -
UC Santa Cruz - Had emailed a POI in late December, Interview on 4th February.. really want to get in here
Bonn-Cologne Graduate School-Rejected (9/02)
U Pittsburgh -
Stony Brook -
Texas A & M-

PS-This was the second time I was applying for graduate school, having failed to get anywhere last year. My previous profile can be seen herehttps://physicsgre.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... si#p237881
Edit 11/02-Glad to get my first acceptance from Dallas. Best wishes to everyone else out there. Will post a detailed analysis of my take on the grad school application process once all the other results are out.

Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:14 pm

Re: 2020 Applicant Profiles and Admission Results

Post by physdes » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:46 pm

Undergrad Institution: Top 20 public school in US
Major(s): Physics
Minor(s): N/A
GPA in Major: 3.3 / 4.0 -- solid GPA in my junior and senior year. I just did not study in my first two years. :oops:
Overall GPA: 3.165 / 4.0 -- same as above
Length of Degree: 4 yrs
Position in Class: near top
Type of Student: International student

GRE Scores :
Q: 165
V: 148
W: 3.0
P: 800 (67th percentile) -- not a good test taker and did not prepare that well after knowing all the connections. I should have done the opposite :!:

TOEFL: (R: , L: , S: , W: ): exempt

Research Experience:
I started my research pretty late at my home institution, doing soft matter and fluid dynamics -- 6 months before graduation plus a whole gap year right after that. I am just a lucky kid and that's it. name on the author list of article which has been submitted to a high-impact index journal and one on-going project which I will co-author.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Provost Honor? does that one count? hahaha

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: research assistant during my gap year

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: :oops: no

Special Bonus Points: 1 very strong LOR from the professor I have been working with.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: maybe march meeting presentation
Applying to Where:

UChicago - physics - Accepted via website Feb. 7th
MIT - applied math - Rejected via email Feb 6th
Caltech - applied physcis
Princeton - MAE - Rejected via email Jan. 31st
Wisconsin Madison - physics - Rejected via email Feb 17th - expected. congrats and good luck to those who got admitted.
UCSB - physics - had an informal interview but I screwed up
UCSD - physics - Accepted via email Jan. 13th
NYU - physics - have some solid connections
Cornell - physics - Rejected via email Feb 12th
Last edited by physdes on Tue Feb 18, 2020 1:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2019 1:34 pm

Re: 2020 Applicant Profiles and Admission Results

Post by purplepinetree » Wed Feb 12, 2020 3:20 pm

Undergrad Institution: Small liberal arts school
Major(s): Physics
Minor(s): Computer Science, Philosophy
GPA in Major: 4.95
Overall GPA: 4.96
Length of Degree: 4yrs
Position in Class: Top
Type of Student: International female

GRE Scores : (revised or old version?)
Q: 169
V: 158 :oops:
W: 4.5
P: 780 :oops:

TOEFL: (R: , L: , S: , W: ) N/A

Research Experience:
4 HEP-EX research and 1 Mechanical Engineering research.
- one at CERN (for a summer)
- one in a national lab (for a summer, one presentation)
- one at a university close to my college (for 3.5 years, one publication one of many et.al, but did my senior thesis and got some honors with it)
- one at another university for a year after my graduation
- one at another university for a semester, paid position (Mechanical Engineering)

- an award based on GPA
- another based on research
- Sigma Pi Sigma
- Magna cum laude
- High Honor in Physics
- two huge scholarships for undergrad program
- two huge scholarships for graduate program

Pertinent Activities or Jobs:
- TA for every semester except for my first semester
- grader for 2 years
- mentor/tutor for physics for 3 years
- department liaison for a year
- research assistant for a year
- software engineering at Microsoft for a summer (kind of related??)
- SPS officer for a year
- Research Fellow at one of the top universities for a year
- Annual lecture series I had in Asia for the past three years for women (high school students) in science
- Contributed a couple of articles about my research and physics in general to a widely read newspaper

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:
- Two huge scholarships. One covers full tuition for 4 years + stipend of $3000/month + research grant, and the other also covers full tuition for 6 years + stipend of $2000/month :D
- launched a new scholarship program in collaboration with one of the scholarship groups and the admission office of my school, for future students hoping to go to my college from the country I am from. :D

Special Bonus Points:
- Very strong recommendation letters.
- The PI I have been working with was my recommendation letter writer, and she also helped me choosing programs/professors to apply to, and she knew most of the professors I mentioned in the SoP.
- Same for another recommendation writer. He went through the list of professors I am applying to, and he seemed to know most of them.
- Those two professors I mentioned above are the professors at my first choice school.
- The other recommendation writer is a prof at my undergrad institution, and he has seen me from struggling through classes as non english speaker to getting a research fellow position and starting off my career as a professional scientist.
- Some people told me my SoP was one of the best they have ever read :D

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:
I was raised to be a house wife and did not know any math or science until I came here for college. It's been rough 5 years, but I studied so much harder and put so much effort in bettering myself,and I am pretty sure it showed up in the LoR from a prof at my undergrad institution.
I also won some prizes with playing the flute but I guess it doesn't really matter..?
I already talked via Skype/phone or in person to the most of the professor mentioned in SoP.

Applying to Where: All High Energy Physics Experiment
Harvard - Feb. 5 : ACCEPTED via email :D
MIT - Feb. 12 : ACCEPTED via email :D
Yale - Interviewed/casually talked to PIs (November/December), Feb 19: ACCEPTED via email :D
Princeton Feb 19: REJECTED since they don’t have any neutrino experimentalist, totally makes sense
Columbia - Feb. 11 : Interviewed (they already know Columbia is not my first choice)
U Michigan -
Stanford - application withdrawn

Having gotten acceptance from my top choices, a couple of thing:
- PGRE is not everything! There might be some threshold, but you don't have to get crazy high scores if you can cover that aspect with something else.
- Don't give up on getting into top graduate programs just because you are from liberal arts school. I myself was, but honestly the education I got there was extraordinary and I wouldn't have gotten such an amazing results without it, or specifically, professors there. Talk to you professors and learn as much as you can from them.
- If you feel like you didn't have enough research experience, it's a great choice to take a "gap" year and do research. That was exactly what I did, and I am so glad I did. I got experience, and I now know that I want to pursue my career in physics for sure.
- I don't know how much the full funding scholarship has helped me with the application, but it definitely will once I start my graduate study. I know applying graduate schools are stressful enough already, but if you could, I really recommend applying to scholarships/fellowships as well.

So thrilled to be back to school next year!! :D
Good luck to all of us here!!
Last edited by purplepinetree on Wed Feb 19, 2020 2:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:51 am

Re: 2020 Applicant Profiles and Admission Results

Post by Ajbaker14 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:44 am

Undergrad Institution: State school with Top 20(US) Physics
Major(s): Physics
Minor(s): Mathematics
GPA in Major: 3.781
Overall GPA: 3.683
Length of Degree: 4 years
Position in Class: Not tracked
Type of Student: Domestic white male

GRE Scores :
Q: 164 (84%)
V: 170 (99%)
W: 4.0 (57%)
P: 810 (68%)


Research Experience: 3 years of CME research and simultaneously 3 years of MechE research on piezoelectrics. No publications, the MechE research was part of the school honors program and culminated in a thesis.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 2 academic merit based scholarships, dean’s list for 2 years, completed the gemstone honors program (above mentioned MechE research)

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 5 years as a nuclear submarine officer

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: I have the GI Bill to use for partial funding

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: My GPA has a slight negative trend, I’m a first generation college student, and I joined the navy to pay for my undergrad so I have non-standard experience and soft skills to talk about

Applying to (all CME with an interest in quantum materials):

MIT - Physics - Feb. 12 REJECTED for Ph.D. via email
Columbia - Applied Physics
University of Washington - Physics - Jan. 30 ACCEPTED for Ph.D. via email
UCLA - Physics - Feb. 07 ACCEPTED for Ph.D. via phone
Northwestern - Physics - Feb. 21 REJECTED for Ph.D. via email
Boston University - Physics - Feb. 12 ACCEPTED for Ph.D. via email
UCSD - Physics
Rice University - Applied Physics - Jan. 12 ACCEPTED for Ph.D. via email
UC Irvine - Physics - Feb. 07 ACCEPTED for Ph.D. via email
NYU - Physics
Northeastern - Physics
UCSC - Physics
Pittsburgh - Physics - Feb. 05 ACCEPTED for Ph.D. via email
USC - Physics
Georgetown - Physics - Jan. 17 ACCEPTED for Ph.D. via email
Last edited by Ajbaker14 on Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:45 am

Re: 2020 Applicant Profiles and Admission Results

Post by hawksolo » Mon Feb 17, 2020 5:57 pm

Undergrad Institution: Medium engineering school, decent physics
Major(s): Engineering Physics
Minor(s): Math
GPA in Major: 4.00
Overall GPA: 3.95
Length of Degree: 4 years
Position in Class: Likely very close to top, unreported
Type of Student: Domestic male

GRE Scores:
Q: 165 (86%)
V: 159 (83%)
W: 4.5 (81%)
P: 770 (62%) and 660 (36%?) :oops:

Research Experience: R&D internship freshman summer at a large semiconductor company. Uni fellowship funded junior year project computational modeling of low temp CM experiment. Summer school and research experience at a well known quantum computing institute. Worked in experimental condensed matter/QC group. No publications so far.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Nothing significant.

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Vice president of very active SPS chapter junior year and president of Sigma Pi Sigma senior year. Serve on a number of department committees.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: Applied for NSF GRFP with professor at one school applying to and noted on applications that asked. Quite confident in the quality of my recommendations, mostly junior faculty but connected in intended fields.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:
Reached out to a number of faculty at about half the schools. Either a few emails back and forth or phone calls in early fall. Physics GRE didn’t quite go as planned. The 660 score was from the October date and I had it set to automatically send to four schools. Those that did not require physics GRE I did not send either too.

Applying to Where: All for condensed matter experiment with emphasis towards quantum computing

UChicago - Molecular Engineering Jan 18: ACCEPTED + fellowship
CU Boulder - Physics Feb 6: ACCEPTED + TA + scholarship
U Wisconsin-Madison - Physics Jan 28: ACCEPTED + TA + first year scholarship
Yale U - Applied Physics Feb 7: Rejected
Princeton U - Electrical Engineering Jan 16 interview with a POI, Feb 10 wait-listed
U Maryland, College Park - Physics Feb 12: ACCEPTED + TA/RA + 1 yr fellowship
U Rochester - Physics Jan 24: ACCEPTED + TA
U Pittsburgh - Physics Jan 29: ACCEPTED + TA

Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2020 5:38 pm

Re: 2020 Applicant Profiles and Admission Results

Post by FrankFu » Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:01 pm

Undergrad Institution: Public uni with okay (10-20 ranked) physics
Major(s): Physics
Minor(s): Nah
GPA in Major: 3.91/4.0 (all 4.0 and one 3.7 except B in GR)
Overall GPA: 3.78/4.0
Length of Degree: 4 years
Position in Class: Top 10%
Type of Student: International male

GRE Scores :
Q: 167 (90%)
V: 166 (97%)
W: 5.0 (92%)
P: 970 (93%)

Toefl: 112

Research Experience: (I decided physics kinda late, in 2nd year.)
0.5 yr building electronics for a trapped ion group. ~8 hrs/week
1 yr (but very long hour) microwave design for a condensed matter experiments in Japan. 2 full days/week through both semesters plus a month full time in winter.
4 months doing analysis and CNN stuff for a US ATLAS prof. 2 months full-time, ~10 hrs/week after

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Interdisciplinary and departmental honors, JASSO scholarship and invited for Sigma Pi Sigma. Dean's list too.

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Summer internship teaching ML and doing market researches for a growth-stage analytics firm back home.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: Year-long exchange in top Japanese university and a highly selective program at our business school (~20 ranked). Also glee club?

Special Bonus Points: All quite strong recs, 2 from PI's and 1 from department dean. All recommenders know me very well personally. Japanese PI is famous in QI circle and knows some prospective profs. Additional rec from a business prof. Also took 4 grad lvl classes with good grades: nuclear (A), QFT I (A+), quantum algorithm (A+) and GR (I eArnEd that B, dammit).

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: Talked to most profs in SoP (esp. for PPPL). Publication in progress, but I don't think they care unless it's already published. Overall GPA dragged down by social science classes during exchange. Also my father have some weird, inspiring stories that I put in as opening.

Applying to Where: All condensed matter/atomic except PPPL

Harvard SEAS
MIT Physics (condensed matter) - REJECTED on Feb. 12th
MIT EECS (QI) - REJECTED on Feb. 20th
Princeton Plasma Physics - 2 hard phone interviews (late Jan early Feb), but ACCEPTED on Valentine's Day, 30k stipend + 8k summer. No way!!
Yale Applied Physics - Shortlisted in late Jan phone interview, ACCEPTED on Feb, 7th, 36K stipend.
Stanford Physics - REJECTED on Feb 11th
Cambridge Physics - Interviewed w/PI mid Jan (pretty much settled), ACCEPTED on Jan 29th. Rejected for Trinity but accepted for Churchill. No monies, won't go.
Oxford Physics
Caltech Applied Physics - REJECTED on Feb. 20th

Match: (I love cities and well-rounded schools, so picked 2 good schools with weak physics)
UCB Physics - REJECTED on Feb. 20th
U Penn Physics - REJECTED on Feb.13th
Columbia Physics

UW Physics
UMD Physics
UCSD Physics

They want good researchers that gives results, and most schools use committee made out of PI's. Think you don't need flashy publications, activities or conference talks if your background's broad and solid. Recs are real important - get as many from PI's as possible. Make sure you contact a lot of people at grad schools, because replies are rare but real helpful.

You'll get'em if you do your best! Feel free to PM, I'd be glad to help.

Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Feb 21, 2020 2:01 pm

Re: 2020 Applicant Profiles and Admission Results

Post by fortunate_indv » Fri Feb 21, 2020 2:29 pm

Undergrad Institution:R1 Public institution, somewhat well-known in Physics
Major(s): Honors Physics and Honors Math
GPA in Major: 3.67 for Physics at time of application - Improved after fall grades
3.3 ish in math
Overall GPA: 3.47 at time of applications, 3.52 after Fall
Length of Degree: 4 years
Position in Class: haha not great
Type of Student: Male, First Generation

GRE Scores :
Q:160 -good enough for me
V:157 -same
W:4.0 -same
P: Didnt take -rookie mistake tbh

TOEFL: (R: , L: , S: , W: )

Research Experience: (At your school or elsewhere? What field? How much time? Any publications (Mth author out of N?) or conference talks etc...)
4 summers spent working at a national lab. Fields ranged from Geology/Astrophysics/Nuclear Physics/Chemistry. Some conference proceedings from this. Somewhat big deal 1st author publication still in works with NIMA. Last summer did REU with POI at Caltech in HEP-ex. Currently running own lab with students under me in fusion research after fundraising several $k and borrowing lab space from my honors advisor.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: (Within your school or outside?)
Several scholarships in physics department, some for my community service within the college and my honors program, very competitive summer fellowship from Caltech.

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: (Such as tutor, TA, SPS officer etc...)
Organized and fundraised two university wide nobel laureate lectures, one being one of the LIGO 2017 award. Founder of a student advocacy group for individuals in Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy. Was an SPS officer at one point. Focused most non-fundraising efforts on mental health initiatives for student in my honors program. Occasionally work as a farm hand in North Texas to help family. Sometimes a volunteer snake-wrangler.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:
Took a few grad courses in Math, Physics (QFT), and Chemistry. Got As in the Physics and Chemistry ones. Running my own lab and supervising several undergraduates definitely helped at the cost of my sanity and increased greying of my hair.

Special Bonus Points: First Gen probably helped, I also made it clear I care about the well-being of my peers and that I want to make sure my peers succeed as well.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:
Bombed my first few semesters due to some mental health issues, then really started caring and collected myself causing for extreme upward trend. Not taking the physics GRE definitely hurt my application. My rec letter writers definitely came through and I am so lucky to have had such wonderful research experiences to show my potential.

Applying to Where:
Stanford - Physics - HEP-ex (Feb. 11: ACCEPTED for Ph.D)- words dont describe how happy and lucky I am. Was super stressed after caltech rejection
UIUC - No details yet
Michigan - no details
MIT - Physics - HEP/Nuclear -ex Rejected via email
Caltech - Physics - Research Interest (Feb. 7: Rejected via informal email from mentor over summer-pretty salty)

Takeaways: If given the chance to apply again, I would take the PGRE and apply to some back up schools. Even though I was accepted to my top choice, I would never wish the stress I had of not having a backup onto anyone. But, I am an example of someone who can succeed without stellar academics and I wish everyone the best of luck in this awful awful experience.

Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Feb 22, 2020 12:45 am

Re: 2020 Applicant Profiles and Admission Results

Post by fefifofumfe » Sat Feb 22, 2020 1:13 am

Undergrad Institution: Small Liberal Arts in US. Not well known
Major(s): Physics
GPA in Major: 3.4
Overall GPA: 3.28
Length of Degree: 5 yrs
Position in Class: middle ish?
Type of Student: domestic Hispanic female

GRE Scores : Taken Sept 2019
Q: 157 (64%)
V: 158 (80%)
W: 3.5 (38%)
P: 590 (26%)

Research Experience: Worked at my school building a Raman Spectrometer for a summer. Built an STM. Physics education research on soap bubble vibrations.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Scholarship for Physics students 2018

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: tutor, grader, TA lower division physics labs

Applying to Where:

Notre Dame- Physics - CME or AMO

Purdue- Physics- CME (Jan 30: ACCEPTED for Ph.D via email, 19k/9mo TA)

University of Washington- Physics- CME or AMO

Washington State University- Physics- CME or AMO (Jan 22: ACCEPTED for Ph.D via email, 17k/9mo TA. Feb 22: offered additional $4k scholarship for women in physics)

University of Oregon- Physics- CME or AMO

Oregon State University- Physics- CME or AMO

University of Utah- Physics- CME or AMO

Montana State University- Physics- CME or AMO (Jan 31: ACCEPTED for Ph.D via email, 21k/12mo TA)

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