2021 Applicant Profile and Admission Results

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Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2020 11:22 am

2021 Applicant Profile and Admission Results

Post by IaMkizzz » Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:44 pm

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: (School or type of school, such as big state, lib arts, ivy, technical, foreign (what country?)... Overall Reputation in Physics?)
GPA in Major:
Overall GPA:
Length of Degree: (Are you graduating after 3, 4, or 5 years?)
Position in Class: (No numbers needed, but are you top? near top? average? struggling?)
Type of Student: (Domestic/International, male/female, minority?)

GRE Scores: NO GRE REQUIRED FOR THIS YEAR (WE ALL KNOW WHAT HAPPENED). However, if you have the scores, you might just post them here.

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...)

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: (Within your school or outside?)

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

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: (Such as connections, grad classes, famous recommenders, female or minority status etc...)

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

Applying to Where:

School - Department - Research Interest Feb. 28: (WILL ATTEND for Ph.D. Accepted via website/email + $Xk Fellowship + $XXk/X month TA)
School - Department - Research Interest (Feb. 14: ACCEPTED for Ph.D via website/email + $Xk Fellowship + $XXk/X month TA)
School - Department - Research Interest (Feb. 23: Rejected via website/email)
Last edited by IaMkizzz on Sun Nov 22, 2020 11:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2020 8:58 am

Re: 2021 Applicant Profile and Admission Results

Post by mysterymachine420 » Tue Nov 17, 2020 2:37 pm

Good luck to all, this site has helped me a ton in making my list of schools.

Undergrad Institution: Large state school ranked ~100 in physics (US News ranking)
Major(s): Physics, Mathematics
GPA in Major: 4.0 (physics), 3.9 (Math)
Overall GPA: 3.98
Length of Degree: 4 years
Position in Class: School doesn't rank, but probably near top
Type of Student: Domestic white male

GRE Scores : Didn't take either the general or physics GRE since the schools I'm applying to have not required it this year due to Covid.
Q: N/A
V: N/A
W: N/A
P: N/A


Research Experience:
About 3 years of research on 3 different projects all at my home institution. No publications, 1 poster, 1 conference proceeding, 1 chalk talk and a senior thesis

My first experience was creating a data pipeline in Python to filter CMB data. I worked on this for about 2 years and ended up writing an extensive Python module on my own. This resulted in the poster and conference proceeding mentioned above.

Second experience was in high energy theory working on understanding limiting cases of supersymmetric quantum field theories. This project is still ongoing. The chalk talk and senior thesis mentioned above was for this project. Senior thesis includes a paper (not submitted to any journals or anything like that though) that will go on my CV. Every school but Colorado Boulder will get the updated CV with that paper on it.

Third experience was with a math professor working on a project in metric space analysis. No presentations or anything like that for this one yet.

A few departmental awards
A few scholarships
Dean's list every semester
Member of Sigma Pi Sigma

Pertinent Activities or Jobs:

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: 4 strong recommendation letters (I think). 3 of them are from my research advisors (one of which is a well-known prof in high energy theory) and one from a professor which I've had 3 classes with.

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

Applying to Where: All for computational astrophysics/cosmology unless noted otherwise. Applying to physics departments unless I've explicitly heard from a prof at that school that it will be hard for me to do computational astro from the physics department.

Super Reach:
Stanford - physics
Caltech - physics
UC Berkeley - physics
U Chicago - physics
Yale - physics
Princeton - astronomy
Colorado Boulder - astrophysical & planetary science

Large Reach:
Stony Brook - physics
Northwestern - physics
UC Santa Cruz - physics
Boston University - astronomy
U of Washington - astronomy

UC Riverside - physics
U of Illinois at Chicago - physics (biophysics)
U of Hawaii at Manoa - physics (HEP ex)
Vanderbilt - astronomy
Last edited by mysterymachine420 on Sat Nov 28, 2020 9:59 am, edited 2 times in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: Tue May 19, 2020 6:11 pm

Re: 2021 Applicant Profile and Admission Results

Post by xraygoth » Wed Nov 18, 2020 9:06 pm

Undergrad Institution: Small liberal arts school in California, little reputation
Major(s): Physics & Math
GPA in Major: 3.46 (Physics), abysmal in Math
Overall GPA: 3.19 :roll: every day of my life I wish I could redo undergrad
Length of Degree: 4
Position in Class: Probably top 25% for physics class
Type of Student: DWM

Grad Institution: Large state school in California, decent reputation
Degree Type: M.S.
Major(s): Physics
GPA in Major: 3.83
Overall GPA: 3.83
Length of Degree: 2
Position in Class: probably top in physics

GRE Scores: N/A in 2020 b/c COVID, Scores are from 2019 - not reporting (but appear on M.S. transcript)
Q: 159
V: 160
W: 4.5
P: N/A

Totally winged the GRE when I took it for my M.S. application. My quantitative score was rather embarrassing...

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

Research Experience:

1 year at undergrad institution working on a computational/theoretical study of high-energy accretion in black hole binaries. Produced the vast majority of numerical results. Work led to publication as 2nd author in ApJ as well as a poster presentation at APS April Meeting in 2019. Most work was completed working full time in the summer of 2018. I was very late to the research game. I was encouraged to apply REUs as an underclassman and just got straight rejections (or didn't even hear back). Unfortunately, the department at my institution wasn't good about letting students know there was research they could perform. In hindsight, I would've started as a freshman.

6 months at master's institution working on a computational/theoretical study of neutron stars. Only full time since the end of summer as M.S. students aren't expected to start research for our theses until the end of our first year. Been writing an original program to solve structure equations in general relativity and perturbative f(R)-gravity with various equation of state models. Mainly focused on the "mass gap" and seeing if modified gravity theories can produce more massive neutron stars that remain consistent with observation. No publications yet. Co-authoring a book chapter on proto-neutron stars for publication in 2021. Work leading up to thesis may result in 1st author publication in 2021 if I can pull it off.

Total research experience is probably 1 year full time spread across 2.5 years.


-Dean's list a couple semesters in undergrad
-S-STEM Scholarship (NSF sponsored for being poor and in STEM)
-Honors in Physics Department
-Large academic scholarships

Pertinent Activities or Jobs:

-Mathematics tutor for two years in undergrad
-Graduate TA for 1.5 years in grad school

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: not really

Special Bonus Points:
-Handful of graduate classes from being in M.S.
-First-generation student, very low income
-Two rec letters are from research advisors from undergrad and grad institution, the other is a prof I took quantum and nuclear with in grad school and was top in the class for both
-Undergrad advisor seems to think I am a more impressive candidate than the 4.0 students he's writing recs for
-Only person in graduating class to major in both Physics & Math
-Extensive core requirements at undergrad institution may/may not help explain lacking GPA
-Boulder PI is aware of and "impressed with" my 2nd author paper
-Over 2 semesters of experience teaching undergraduate laboratories

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:
Significant upward trend latter years of undergrad, and most notably so in grad school when one doesn't have to worry about excessive non-major courses or abysmal pure math instruction. For schools that allowed a personal history statement, I mentioned having to go the ER at the start of finals week for nerve damage during my worst semester of undergrad. I also started the math major with a significant head start. In hindsight, I had very poor time management and study strategies as an underclassman. Tried to do too much at once. Additionally, I mentioned overcoming the pressures of overexertion that came from collegiate sports commitments, battling economic difficulties, etc. Mainly tried to reflect these experiences in a positive light as necessary conditions for growth and maturity. For my statement of purpose, I've spent many many months working on it extensively. Lots of feedback and recommenders seem to think it is demonstrably better than what they usually see. Probably won't matter :\.

Applying to Where: All for computational astrophysics, cosmology, or closely related fields. My guess is there's an 95% chance I get in absolutely nowhere and a 5% chance I get in somewhere.

Beyond Reach:

Boulder - APS
UCSB - Physics
UC Berkeley - Physics
Stanford - Physics
UCLA - Physics
UCSD - Physics
Northwestern - Physics
USC - Physics
Rice - Physics
UC Irvine - Physics
UW - Astronomy
UC Davis - Physics
UC Santa Cruz - Astronomy & Astrophysics
Washington State - Physics
UC Riverside - Physics
Oregon - Physics
UIUC - Physics
Oregon State - Physics
Last edited by xraygoth on Thu Nov 19, 2020 4:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:45 pm

Re: 2021 Applicant Profile and Admission Results

Post by hurbe002 » Thu Nov 19, 2020 2:06 pm

Undergrad Institution: Big state school (top 25 in physics)
Major(s): Physics
Minor(s): Math
GPA in Major: 3.87
Overall GPA: 3.89
Length of Degree: 3 years (with 1 year at a CC as highschooler (4.0 gpa there) and 1 year at main institution as a highschooler)
Position in Class: no idea
Type of Student: just a white boi

GRE Scores : (revised or old version?) lol nah - couldn't even take it
Q: no
V: no
W: no
P: no

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

Research Experience:
2.5 - 3ish years in a spintronics EE lab, lots of technical experience with photolithography, thin film deposition, vacuum systems, electrical/magnetic transport measurements. Currently have a patent in progress and a manuscript being drafted (most likely 2nd author, maybe co first)

-deans list every semester
-undergrad research grant based on a written proposal
-got an award for being the top chemistry student for two semesters at the CC I went to in HS (grad admissions probably don't care about this but included anyway lol)

Pertinent Activities or Jobs:
-TA for intro courses
-Reviewer for an undergrad academic journal at my institution
-Volunteered as a judge at a statewide science fair

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points:
-Took two semesters graduate quantum rather than the upper division as a sophomore - have the prof for this writing one of my letters
-my research advisor really wants me to stay at my home institution so that hopefully means I'll get a good letter from him

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:
I think my SOP is pretty good based on feedback I have gotten from profs, I also plan on emailing professors whose research I am interested in

Applying to Where: Everything for CME unless otherwise noted

Cornell - Physics
Stanford - Applied Physics
Berkeley - Physics
Princeton- Physics
Yale - Physics
UIUC - Physics

Johns Hopkins - Physics
UMD College Park - Physics
UChicago - Molecular Engineering
UW Madison - Physics
Penn State - Physics
University of Washington - Physics
Ohio State - Physics
UMN - Physics

Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2020 11:04 pm

Re: 2021 Applicant Profile and Admission Results

Post by JerryZ » Sun Nov 22, 2020 11:27 pm

Undergrad Institution: UK top school, fine reputation with physics
Major(s): Physics
GPA in Major:
Overall GPA: First Class (Haven't converted to 4.0 scale yet)
Length of Degree: 4, with integrated master's degree
Position in Class: near top
Type of Student: International male

GRE Scores : Taken, but probably won't matter
Q: 170
V: 160
W: 4.0
P: N/A

TOEFL: waived

Research Experience: Three summer internships in US. One project at home institution, and now carrying on master's project. No papers.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: nah

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: nah

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: All my project supervisors in the US are well respected in their fields, but only 2/3 will be solid letters I guess.

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

Applying to Where: all in directions of QIS/AMO

Princeton - EECS
Berkeley - Physics
Yale - Applied Physics
Harvard - Physics
Caltech - Applied Physics
Stanford - Applied Physics
MIT - Physics
UChicago - Molecular Engineering
UIUC - Physics
Last edited by JerryZ on Mon Nov 23, 2020 7:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2020 11:50 pm

Re: 2021 Applicant Profile and Admission Results

Post by relahydro » Sun Nov 22, 2020 11:58 pm

Undergrad Institution: Highly ranked state school
Major(s): Physics
Minor(s): Math, Astronomy
Overall GPA: 3.90
Length of Degree: 4 years
Position in Class: not sure
Type of Student: Domestic Asian / white male

GRE Scores: n/a due to COVID

Research Experience: 2.5 years (including one summer) at home institution doing gravitational wave data analysis with LIGO. One summer in Italy working on hardware for the Virgo interferometer. One summer working virtually with NASA on gravitational wave data analysis for LISA.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Full-tuition merit scholarship for undergrad, Dean's list every semester

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: SPS vice president for one year and SPS president for one year, lots of outreach through SPS, course grader for one semester

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: One co-authored collaboration publication, 2 APS conference presentations, senior thesis in prep

Special Bonus Points: Grad classes in GR and cosmology, lots of advanced math and astronomy coursework that involved mini research projects, all rec letters are from research advisors

Applying to Where: All for gravitational waves, numerical relativity, or computational astrophysics

Caltech - Physics
MIT - Physics
Princeton - Physics
Harvard - Physics
Cornell - Physics
Stanford - Physics
UC Berkeley - Physics
UT Austin - Physics
University of Maryland - Physics
University of Michigan - Physics
Northwestern - Physics
Columbia - Astronomy
UChicago - Astronomy
UCLA - Astronomy

Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:10 pm

Re: 2021 Applicant Profile and Admission Results

Post by chiyooo » Sun Nov 29, 2020 4:10 pm

Undergrad Institution: historically women's liberal arts college in US
Major(s): physics
Minor(s): CS
GPA in Major: 3.45
Overall GPA: 3.52
Length of Degree: 4
Position in Class: average? we don't do rankings
Type of Student: white/asian female

GRE Scores: took them last year, but will not be submitting the scores anywhere

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

Research Experience: 1 REU over the summer in amo physics which resulted in a conference presentation in an undergrad session. About 2 years of experience in an atomic physics lab at my home institution which resulted in a publication and 2 conference presentations.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: scholarship at my school and random fellowship

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Lab TA, SPS President, cross country, track

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points:

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: I applied to GA Tech and Rice last year... also nothing in my application has really changed. I also contacted professors at most of these institutions and received positive feedback, but I heard it doesn't really mean much.

Applying to Where: (All for AMO physics, unless otherwise noted)

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology
UT Austin
University of Virginia
CU Boulder
IU Bloomington
Georgia Tech
University of Arizona (Optics)
University of Connecticut
Stony Brook

Good luck everyone! I'm so curious about how things will go this year...

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