• 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.

User avatar
Posts: 2296
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:46 pm


Post by grae313 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:47 pm

1. Please Search the forum before starting a new thread
Most of your questions have already been discussed in detail many times.

2. Use the proper forum and subforum for your questions.
Please do not post separate threads on the same topic. (see #4)

3. Use a clear and suitable TITLE for your topics.
(do not use titles like: help, need help ..., plzz help ...)

4. Use the appropriate subforum for frequently asked questions on the topics of...
school selection, GPA and transcripts, tests and scores, statements of purpose, research, funding, letters of recommendation, concerns for international students and Transitioning to physics from a non-physics field.

5. Please review grae313's brief discussion of the most common questions before making a thread on one of these questions!

***0. What Are My Chances?***
0.1 "I got a 990 in the physics GRE. Will I get into Harvard?"
We don't know the answer to this, and neither does anyone else. The US admissions system weighs all aspects of your application together and considers it as a whole, and there are absolutely no guarantees. However we can say that, in general, your entire application will have to be strong in order to gain admission at top universities. The best you can do is compare your profile to the ones in the stickied posts (2008 and 2009) of this forum and you can see what types of applications were admitted to different schools. If you feel that this answer has been unsatisfactory, you are welcome to browse these discussions on this topic, and be warned that any similar posts will not be received well:

0.2 "I got a 300 on the physics GRE. Should I work at McDonalds?"
A poor score on the physics GRE can be a huge hit to your self-confidence, but it's not the end of the world. Often people feel that their score grossly misrepresents their abilities as a physicist, and when this is the case, other strong points in your application can help offset a poor score such as excellent grades, letters of recommendation, and strong research experience in physics. However, you may want to view the applicant profiles threads (2008 and 2009) and align your expectations accordingly, because a very low score on the PGRE does significantly affect your chances, especially at top universities. Average exam scores for many institutions are published at

Some things to consider:
1. You can take a year off, do research, study to retake the physics GRE and try again next year. See frequently asked questions #2.
2. The top schools tend to admit students with high physics GRE scores, but there are plenty of quality schools that place less weight on this aspect of your application. It may be more difficult, but it is still entirely possible to have a successful career as a physicist with an education from a lower ranked school.

0.3 "Here is my profile. What schools should I apply to"
Please go away.

Seriously though, this requires a lot of individual research on your part, and is much too general a question for us to be able to offer you advice. Many of the people here spent dozens if not hundreds of hours browsing the websites of different physics programs to decide where to apply. Do some research on your own, and feel free to post any specific questions you might have afterward. Here are some relevant discussions you should view:

***1. Changing Fields*** (there is a separate subforum for changing fields now)

1.1 "I didn't major in physics. Can I still go to graduate school in physics"
Sure, but every physics graduate program lists requirements for admission on their department website, and you'll have to meet these requirements somehow. Browse a few department websites to get an idea of these requirements. Most require a strong knowledge of physics at the undergraduate level as evidenced by significant coursework and a good score on the physics GRE. There are other ways to show you know your stuff without taking lots of courses, for example by doing well in a few graduate-level physics courses, but as a general rule, a good score on the physics GRE IS NOT ENOUGH to get you into a physics graduate program. Please review these threads for more discussions on this topic:

Please stop posting your BS questions on changing fields
Switching to Astrophysics through Subject Test
Newbie..Mechanical Engineering to Physics..Pls Guide
EE with lack of research and grad school?
M.S or PhD in Astrophysics?
Advice on going back to grad school AND changing my major
Need advice: Econ to Physics ...

1.2 "I've been out of school for a long time. Can I still go to graduate school in physics?"
Sure you can, and plenty of people have done it before. However, the response to the above question applies to you as well. You'll still have to meet the requirements for admission at the program of your choice. If you meet these requirements, there's no reason why your age should matter. Here are some discussions by others on this topic:

I am 38... too late to apply for Ph.D?
28 year old wanting to change to Physics

*written by grae313 and pqortic in 2009, edited by quizivex in 2013