This page includes detailed instructions for each section in the MIT Physics Graduate Admissions portal. The main graduate admissions page has a broader description of the admissions process, and an FAQ.

The high-level information provided in this section helps the admissions committee to guide your application through the admissions process.  The “fields of interest” and “suggested faculty readers” are particularly important to ensuring that your application is read by the admissions committee members (and possibly other faculty) most able to appreciate your research background and interests.  The “suggested faculty readers” may include faculty that you would be interested in working with, or may simpl77y represent areas of research that you find interesting or have worked in.  Research areas in the MIT Physics Department are described here, and each area page includes a list of associated faculty.

The following examples are of applicants with a fairly tight research focus.  This narrow focus is just for the sake of making simple examples and is not typical or expected of all applicants.

Example A, an applicant interested in the particle nature of dark matter, and dark energy’s role in cosmology:

Example B, an applicant interested in galaxy formation, black holes and dark matter dynamics:

Example C, an applicant interested in precision metrology for astrophysics or fundamental physics


The information you provide here will be used to organize your letter writers.  An ideal recommender is someone who knows your academic or research work well (i.e., a research advisor) and is excited about writing a letter on your behalf.  You may include more than 3 letters, but letters beyond the third are optional and may not help your application.


The information requested in these sections allows us to contact you, provide you with information that may be relevant to the application process, and understand our applicant pool with the aim of improving our admissions process.


Due to on-going access issues, the MIT Physics Department is not accepting Physics GRE or General GRE scores.  We believe that this is necessary to avoid inadvertently privileging some applicants. All applications will be given full consideration without reference to GRE scores, either General or Physics subject tests.

English is the language of instruction at MIT and all students must demonstrate their English language proficiency.  Non-native English speakers are expected to provide results from the IELTS or TOEFL with their application, though a waiver may be requested in some circumstances (see the FAQ for more information).


Your academic experience and performance is an important part of your application. In this section you are asked to provide information about academic institutions that you have attended. Most of the requested information should be self-explanatory, but there are a few points that might require clarification.

  • Cumulative GPA as listed on your transcript: Most colleges and universities provide a cumulative GPA as part of the student’s transcript. If your institution does not provide this information, but you can easily compute it, please do so. If your institution does not provide numeric grades (or numeric equivalents for class performance evaluation), or you have no way to compute a GPA, you may enter “None” in this field.
  • Credit Units/Hours in this GPA: The GPA provided above (if any) is typically based on the average of grades from many courses.  The number of credit units/hours is often reported on the transcript, or can be summed up by the applicant.  This will help to determine the relative importance of GPAs when more than one is presented.

    We ask that applicants provide credit units/hours in the Carnegie Unit System, which is used at most institutions in the US (c.f. Boston University or University of Arizona), though there are some exceptions (like MIT).  In this system, a typical course with 4 hours of instruction per week will receive 4 credits.  In a semester system, with at least 15 weeks each semester and 2 semesters per year, roughly 120 credits are generally required to receive a bachelor’s degree (e.g., taking 4 classes worth 4 credits for 8 semesters).

    There are a wide range of course credit systems used internationally, and some utilities for unit conversion exist (e.g., University of Arizona and a wiki page for the EU).  We ask that applicants give an approximate value if possible, while stressing that precision is not required or expected.  Applicants who attended institutions that do not use a credit system, or do not provide numeric grades, may enter “None” in this field.
  • Minimum and Maximum GPA: The GPA provided above (if any) will generally have a range of possible values (e.g., 0 to 4.3). Knowing this range will help the admissions committee understand the GPA value. If your institution uses a numerical scale where lower values indicate superior performance (e.g., German universities), please put the lowest value (i.e., best grade) in the “Maximum (best) GPA” field, and the highest value (i.e., worst grade) in the “Minimum (worst) GPA” field. As for other GPA fields, if no numerical value can be computed, you may enter “None” in these fields.
  • Grading System: While most educational institutions provide numerical grades or numerical equivalents for letter grades, the relationship between these numerical scales and performance varies widely. In the US, common numerical scales have a range of 0 to 4.0, 0 to 4.3 and 0 to 5. Internationally, numerical scales may have a range of 0 to 10, 0 to 20, 0 to 100, etc. In order to provide the admissions committee with a clearer understanding of your GPA, and other grades on your transcript, we request that applicants use the system described below.

    In order for this information to have a uniform format, we ask you to convert your institution’s grading scale to a “Standard Grade”.This grade scale is defined as:

Letter Grade

Typical Percentage

Grade Value

Academic Performance was …

A+

97–100 %

4.3

Exceptional or extraordinary

A

93–97 %

4.0

Excellent

A−

90–93 %

3.7

Very good

B+

87–90 %

3.3

Very good, but with minor faults

B

83–87 %

3.0

Good

B−

80–83 %

2.7

Good, but with a few clear faults

C

70–80 %

2.0

Satisfactory or sufficient

D

60–70 %

1.0

Marginal (may not be sufficient as prerequisite)

F

0–60 %

0.00

Unsatisfactory or insufficient (no credit received)

While there are many wiki pages written about grading systems which we hope will be of use to our applicants, we recognize that these conversions are likely to be imperfect and somewhat subjective. We appreciate your time and effort, and we do not expect you to attempt to compensate for grade inflation or grade distributions.

For each institution, please indicate the Standard Grade equivalent for each letter grade (if any) or numerical value used in that institution’s grading system in this format:

<transcript letter grade> = <transcript GPA value> = <standard letter grade>, …

If there is a range of values which may correspond to a given letter grade, use a dash to express the range (e.g., 9-10). You may follow this (after a : character) with explanatory text or a link to a reference webpage, but this is not required.

We provide numerous examples both for clarity, and in the hope that many applicants will find their institution or a closely related institution among the examples.

Example A, University of British Columbia: A+ = 4.33 = A+, A = 4.0 = A, A- = 3.67 = A-, B+ = 3.67 = B+, B = 3.0 = B, B- = 2.67 = B-, C+ = 2.33 = C, C = 2.0 = C, C- = 1.67 = C, D = 1.0 = D, F = 0.0 = F: A nearly perfect match to the Standard Grade system, though the numerical values used at UBC have 2-digit precision.

Example B, Harvard: A+ = 4.0 = A+, A = 4.0 = A, A- = 3.67 = A-, B+ = 3.33 = B+, B = 3.0 = B, B- = 2.67 = B-, C+ = 2.33 = C, C = 2.0 = C, C- = 1.67 = C, D+ = 1.33 = D, D = 1.0 = D, D- = 0.67 = D, F = 0.0 = F: Harvard uses and A-F system with +- grades available, though A+ has the same numerical value as A (4.0).

Example C, Peking University: 95-100 = A+, 90-95 = A, 85-90 = A-, 80-85 = B+, 75-80 = B, 72-75 = B-, 64-72 = C, 60-64 = D, 0-60 = F: PKU uses the formula GPA = 4 – 3 * (100 – x).^2 / 1600 to convert from percentages to a 0-4 grade scale for the GPA. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_grading_in_China

Example D, Indian Institutes of Technology: S = 9-10 = A+, A = 8-9 = A, B = 7-8 = B, C = 6-7 = C, D = 4-6 = D, E = 3-4 = F: Aside from S being roughly equivalent to an A+, IIT does not have letter grades equivalent to the standard +/- letter grades. Numerical values below 3 indicate Unfair Behavior.

Example E, German University: 1.0 = A, 1.3 = A-, 1.7 = B+, 2.0 = B, 2.3 = B-, 2.7 = C, 3.0 = C, 3.3 = C, 3.7 = D, 4.0 = D, 5.0 = F: Note that the numeric scale is reversed relative to the standard grade scale.

Example F, Russian University: 5 = A, 4 = B, 3 = C, 2 = F: There is no equivalent to the “D” grade in the Russian system, and +/- modifiers are not used.

Example G, British University: First Class Honours = 70-100 = A, Second Class Honours Upper division = 60-70 = B+, Second Class Honours Lower division = 50-60 = B, Third Class Honours = 40-50 = C, Fail = 0-40 = F


Transcripts vary widely among institutions and are rarely sufficient for the admissions committee to understand the importance of the classes you have taken. The “Subjects Taken” section provides the committee with a succinct overview of the classes you have taken which are relevant to your application. Please list all courses in physics, math, and related areas.

  • College or University: institution where this class was taken. Choose from the list entered in the “Colleges/Universities Attended” section of the application.
  • Class Name: name of the course (or English translation)
  • Subjects Covered: subject/level code or codes that describe the course content and level (see below).
  • Textbook: the title and authors of the main textbook used, if any. This information may help the admissions committee to better understand the material covered, but we recognize that finding textbook names may be onerous. Please provide this information only if it is reasonably accessible.
  • Year: the calendar year when the class started (e.g., 2020)
  • Grade Received: the grade you received as it appears in your transcript, if any. For classes which are in progress, enter “In Prog”.
  • Standard Grade Equivalent: Standard Grade equivalent to the grade received, as described in “Grading System” in the “Colleges/Universities Attended” section of the application. For classes that were passed, but no grade was received, use “Pass” (i.e., for Pass/Fail grading). For classes which are in progress, or classes for which no grade is given, use “None”. Use “Other” for exceptional cases for which there is no standard grade equivalent (e.g., an incomplete course or a course disrupted by COVID-19).

Note: Ideally these are grouped by topic (e.g., physics, math, computing, other), and in chronological order within each topic (first year to last year). However, we realize that it is very challenging to move courses in the list, so any entry order is acceptable. Alternately, you might want to enter your class information into a spreadsheet application first, and then transfer it to this form.

Subject/Level Codes:

The subject/level code is intended to provide the readers of your application with a clear idea of the primary content of each course you list. Up to 3 codes may be used if no single code is sufficient to describe the class content. If a single code is not sufficient (e.g., the class covered both StatMech and QuantMech), you may include codes for all subjects that occupied at least ⅓ of the class time. Separate multiple codes with a comma and/or a space.

We recognize that this may appear daunting at first, but several current graduate students have tested the system and found it to be fairly quick.

The subject codes for common physics classes are:

  • GenPhys – General/University/College/Fundamental Physics, Physics for Scientists and Engineers, etc.
  • ModPhys – Modern Physics
  • ClassMech – Classical Mechanics (may include introduction to oscillations and waves)
  • EandM – Electricity and Magnetism, Electromagnetism, Electrodynamics, etc. (may include introduction to waves, optics, and/or electronics)
  • VibWave – Vibrations and Waves
  • StatMech – Statistical Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Thermal Physics, etc.
  • QuantMech – Quantum Mechanics
  • SpRel – Special Relativity (may include introduction to General Relativity)
  • GenRel – General Relativity
  • ExpLab – Experiment/Laboratory

More specialized topics in Physics:

  • CondMatt – Condensed Matter or Solid-State Physics
  • Optics – Optics and Laser Physics
  • AMO – Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
  • Astro – Astronomy and Astrophysics (theoretical or observational)
  • Cosmo – Cosmology, Gravitation and Early Universe Physics
  • NucPart – Nuclear and Particle Physics
  • HighEnergy – High Energy and Accelerator Physics
  • BioPhys – Biophysics
  • Plasma – Plasma Physics
  • RelEandM – Relativistic Electrodynamics
  • QFT – Quantum Field Theory
  • FieldTh – Effective Field Theory
  • StringTh – String Theory
  • QIS – Quantum Information Science or Quantum Computing
  • Photonics – Quantum Optics and Photonics
  • QuantManyBody – Quantum Theory of Many-Body Systems
  • NumPhys – Numerical or Computational Physics
  • NonlinDyn – Nonlinear Dynamics
  • FluidMech – Fluid Mechanics
  • Electronics – Electronics, Circuit Design, etc. (may include laboratory component)
  • LowTemp – Low-Temperature Physics (may include laboratory component)
  • EnergySci – Energy Science
  • OtherPhys – Other Physics courses not listed here

Mathematics courses of relevance to Physics:

  • MathMethods – Mathematical Methods in Physics
  • Calculus – Calculus
  • VectCalc – Vector Calculus or Multivariable Calculus
  • ODiffEq – Ordinary Differential Equations
  • PDiffEq – Partial Differential Equations
  • DiffGeom – Differential Geometry
  • BoundaryValues – Boundary Values
  • LinAlg – Linear Algebra
  • AbstAlg – Abstract Algebra
  • AlgTopo – Algebraic Topology
  • ComplexAna – Complex Analysis
  • RealAna – Real Analysis
  • ErrorAna – Error Analysis
  • ProbStat – Probability and Statistics
  • GroupTh – Group Theory
  • LieGroups – Lie Groups and Lie Algebras
  • OtherMath – Other Mathematics courses not listed here

Computing courses of relevance to Physics:

  • CompProg – Computer Programing
  • CompMethod – Numerical Methods, Computational Techniques, etc.
  • DataAna – Data Analysis for Physical Science
  • SigProc – Discrete and Continuous Signal Processing
  • MLandAI – Machine Learning and/or Artificial Intelligence
  • OtherComp – Other Computing courses not listed here

The level code provides a means of distinguishing between multiple courses on the same topic which form a sequence (e.g., Quantum Mechanics 1, 2 and 3). The level code can be followed by a “g” to indicate that a course is a graduate-level course. Thus, the code for the second course in graduate-level Quantum Mechanics would be QuantMech2g.

Examples from MIT’s physics course catalog (http://catalog.mit.edu/subjects/8/):

  • Physics 1 (8.01) = ClassMech1
  • Physics 2 (8.02) = EandM1
  • Physics 3 (8.03) = VibWave
  • Statistical Physics (8.044) = StatMech1
  • Quantum Mechanics 1 (8.04) = QuantMech1
  • Quantum Mechanics 2 (8.05) = QuantMech2
  • Quantum Mechanics 3 (8.06) = QuantMech3
  • Electromagnetism 2 (8.07) = EandM2
  • Statistical Physics 2 (8.08) = StatMech2
  • Classical Mechanics 2 (8.223) = ClassMech2
  • Classical Mechanics 3 (8.09) = ClassMech3
  • Relativity (8.033) = SpRel, GenRel
  • Special Relativity (8.20) = SpRel
  • Experimental Physics 1 (8.13) = ExpLab1
  • Experimental Physics 2 (8.14) = ExpLab2

For graduate-level courses, add a trailing “g”, for example:

  • Relativistic Quantum Field Theory 2 (8.324) = QFT2g

This is a list of all forms of merit-based recognition (MBR) you have received (after high school).  There are innumerable forms of recognition that MIT applicants have received for their academic, research and outreach efforts, and we would like to understand the importance of each of yours to your application.  The information requested in this section is intended to give the admissions committee a clear picture of the significance of each of your honors, prizes, awards, fellowships, etc.

  • Title: the name of the MBR
  • Year: the year in which the MBR was received
  • Type: the type of MBR.  Choose from scholarship, fellowship, award, prize, medal, letter, accolade, dean’s list, honor society, pending, or other.  Use “pending” for any type of MBR that requires application, but for which no decision has been made (e.g., a national fellowship), and use the “Note” field to explain. 
  • Pool: the size of the pool from which winners are drawn for this MBR.  You may enter an approximate number, or choose from institutional, local, regional, national, international, or global.  This helps us to understand the significance of the MBR you received.
  • Awardees: the number of people who were granted this MBR.  This may be approximate if it is a fraction of a large or variable applicant pool.
  • Higher Awardees: the number of people who were granted a higher form of recognition in the same competition.  This should only be for cases where the ranking is explicit, such as a gold medal vs. a silver or bronze medal.  Leave this field empty if this MBR is the only or highest possible for a given competition, or if there is no explicit ranking.
  • URL: a link to the institutional webpage showing the applicant’s reception of this MBR, if available (we know that this is not available in many cases)
  • Note: any additional information you would like to share.  For pending fellowships, scholarships, etc., enter the type of MBR and approximate date when a decision is expected.

Example A, a “dean’s list” recognition that goes to the top 10% of students enrolled in your college or university, which you received in 2019:

  • title = Dean’s List: University of Nebraska
  • year = 2019
  • type = dean’s list
  • pool =  institutional
  • awardees = 130
  • awardees above = <leave this field empty>
  • URL = https://cas.unl.edu/dl-fall-2019
  • note = top 10% of GPAs

Example B, a silver medal in the 2018 International Physics Olympiad.  (There were 69 silver medals, and 42 gold medals awarded in 2018.):

  • title = International Physics Olympiad: silver medalist
  • year = 2018
  • type = medal
  • pool =  global
  • awardees = 69
  • awardees above = 42
  • URL = https://ipho2018.pt/content/exams 
  • note = <empty>

Example C, a Goldwater Scholarship:

  • title = Goldwater Scholarship
  • year = 2019
  • type = scholarship
  • pool =  national
  • awardees = 300
  • awardees above = <empty>
  • URL = https://goldwaterscholarship.gov/2021-goldwater-scholars-by-legal-state-of-residence/  
  • note = <empty>

Example D, research fellowship:

  • title = xx research fellowship
  • year = 2020
  • type = fellowship
  • pool =  national
  • awardees = 8
  • awardees above = <empty>
  • URL =  http://xx
  • note = Fellows nominated by their home institution and approved by panel of judges; for the facilitation of research experience at xx institution.

While publications are not necessary for admission, they form an important part of some applications.  In this section you are asked to list all kinds of research-related publications.  Entry fields are as follows:

  • Title: the title of the publication
  • Authors: the author list for the publication.  List only last names and truncate with “et.al.” after 5 authors.
  • Date Published: the month and year of publication (e.g., 06/2018).  If the publication is expected to appear soon in a refereed scientific publication (i.e., submitted or accepted), enter the date when it was submitted.  If the publication is “in preparation”, enter the approximate expected publication date.
  • Journal, Conference or Publisher: the full name of the journal, preprint server, conference proceedings, conference (for posters), institution (for thesis), publisher (for books), etc.  Please do not use abbreviations.
  • Type: the type of publication.  Choose from: article (i.e., a journal article or letter published in a refereed scientific publication), preprint (e.g., arXiv), in preparation, submitted, accepted, proceeding, book, thesis, poster, or other.  Use “submitted” and “accepted” only for articles in refereed scientific publications.  If you have posted an article on a preprint server and submitted it for publication, use the preprint for the “DOI or URL” field.
  • Contribution: your contribution to this publication.  Choose from: lead author, co-lead author, contributing author, collaboration member.  The lead author generally appears first in the author list.  The co-lead, if any, is generally second in the author list.
  • Citations: the number of citations this publication has received (0 if none or unknown).  These can typically be found with a search on Google Scholar.
  • Impact Factor: the impact factor (IF) of the journal where this article was published, if any (omit if not available or not applicable).  The impact factor of many journals can be found with a Google search (e.g., “Physical Review X impact factor”)
  • DOI or URL: the digital object identifier associated with this publication.  If no DOI is available, a URL should be provided if possible.

Example A, publication in Physical Review X by Evans:

  • title = Quantum Limit for Laser Interferometric Gravitational-Wave Detectors from Optical Dissipation
  • authors = Miao, Smith, Evans
  • date published = 06/2019
  • journal, location or publisher = Physical Review X
  • type = article
  • contribution = contributing author
  • citations = 17
  • impact factor = 15.8
  • DOI or URL = 10.1103/PhysRevX.9.011053

Example B, poster at a conference by Terkowski:

  • title = Amorphous and crystalline hybrid mirror coatings
  • authors = Terkowski
  • date published = 05/2019
  • journal, conference or publisher = Gravitational Wave Detector Workshop
  • type = poster
  • contribution = lead
  • citations = 0
  • impact factor = <empty>
  • DOI or URL = https://agenda.infn.it/event/15928/sessions/13074/attachments/62920/76372/Booklet_POSTER_GWDADW2019.pdf

Example C, preprint on arXiv by Harrison:

  • title = Photospheric Radius Expansion and a double-peaked type-I X-ray burst from GRS 1741.9–2853
  • authors = Pike, Harrison, Tomsick, Bachetti, Buisson, et al.
  • date published = 06/2021 
  • journal, conference, or publisher = arXiv
  • type = preprint
  • contribution = co-lead
  • citations = 0
  • impact factor = <empty>
  • DOI or URL = https://arxiv.org/abs/2106.13312 

In addition to publications, public talks and presentations of many types are a common means of recognizing success in research and outreach.  Please list any public talks that you have given which you deem important to the admissions committee’s understanding of your application.  Entry fields are:

  • Title: the title of the talk or presentation
  • Date: the month and year of the event at which you spoke (e.g., 06/2018)
  • Event: the name of the event
  • Location: the location of the event (if remote, give the location of the organizing institution)
  • Type: the type of event.  Choose from: conference, workshop, colloquium, class, group, journal club, or other.
  • Institution Relationship/Type: your relationship to the institution where the event took place at the time of the event.  Choose from:
    • Home – the institution where you were studying
    • National – an institution in the country where you were studying
    • International – an institution outside of the country where you were studying
    • Government – a government institution (i.e., a government lab)
    • REU – Research Experiences for Undergraduates
    • SURF – Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship
    • Other – any other type of institution
    • For any activity at your home institution, use Home (e.g., use Home for a SURF at your home institution).  In other cases where more than one of the above labels apply, use the one farthest down the list (e.g., use REU for an international REU).
  • URL: a link to the institutional webpage showing the event schedule with your talk

Example A, a talk at an international conference:

  • title = Squeezing the Most from a Gravitational Wave Detector Network
  • date = 12/2012
  • event = International Conference on Fiber Optics and Photonics 2012
  • location = Chennai, India
  • type = conference
  • institution relationship/type = international
  • URL = https://www.osapublishing.org/abstract.cfm?uri=photonics-2012-PL3

Example B, a talk to a local astronomical society

  • title = The Lives and Deaths of Massive Stars
  • date = 09/2019
  • event = Monthly Meeting of the Auckland Astronomical Society
  • location = Auckland, New Zealand
  • type = outreach 
  • institution relationship/type = national
  • URL = none

Success in research is a key component to success in graduate school.  In this section we ask you to provide the admissions committee with a CV-like list of research activities.  This list is intended to be brief, while the experiences most relevant to your goals for the future may be elaborated on in the “Statement of Objectives” and/or the optional “Personal Statement”.

  • Title or Subject: a title for this activity which indicates the research area
  • Start Date: the month and year when you started this activity (e.g., 06/2018)
  • End Date: the month and year when you finished this activity (e.g., 06/2019).  If the activity is on-going, enter the expected end date.
  • Hours per Week: the approximate average number of hours spent per week engaged in this activity (i.e., 40 for full-time, 20 for part-time, etc.)
  • Type: the type of research activity.  Choose from: experimental, observational, computational, theoretical, self-study, reading, literature review, or other.  If your activity covers multiple types, pick the dominant one and explain briefly in the description.
  • Institution Relationship/Type: your relationship to the institution where the activity took place at the time of the event.  (As in “Research and Outreach Talks” above.)
  • Advisor: the name of your research advisor (<first last> or <last, first>)
  • Institution or Organization: the name of the college, university, or other institution where this activity took place
  • Description: a brief description of your most notable accomplishment during this activity (max 50 words).  A more complete description of this experience may be included in the “Statement of Objectives” and/or the optional “Personal Statement”.

Example A, summer research opportunity at the home institution:

  • title = investigation of the relation between stellar metallicity and stellar masses
  • start date = 05/2019
  • end date = 09/2019
  • hours per week = 40
  • type = computational
  • institution relationship/type = home
  • advisor = Evan Kirby
  • Institution or Organization = California Institute of Technology 
  • description = As part of my work, I developed modularized code infrastructure in Python for the data reduction pipeline of the Keck Observatory telescopes, which is still being used by the group today to efficiently process observations of stars and their spectra

Example B, Research experience program at institution outside your home country:

  • title = Exotic State Preparation in a Triangular Optical Lattice
  • start date = 05/2020
  • end date = 08/2020
  • hours per week = 40
  • type = theoretical
  • institution relationship/type = REU
  • advisor = Carla Dunne
  • Institution or Organization = Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics
  • description =  In this project, the dynamics of a triangular optical lattice are used to create higher orbital states in a gas of ultracold atoms. By varying control parameters like the relative polarization phases of the lattice lasers, arbitrary desired excited states and tunneling rates are achieved.

The ability to communicate and teach scientific topics is also important to success in academia.  In this section we ask you to provide the admissions committee with a CV-like list of teaching activities.  As with the “Research Experience” section, this list is intended to be a brief overview.

  • Title or Subject: a title for this activity
  • Start Date: the month and year when you started this activity (e.g., 06/2018)
  • End Date: the month and year when you finished this activity (e.g., 06/2019).  If the activity is on-going, enter the expected end date.
  • Hours per Week: the approximate average number of hours spent per week engaged in this activity (i.e., 40 for full-time, 20 for part-time, etc.)
  • Type: the type of teaching activity.  Choose from: teaching assistant, tutor, mentor, instructor, or other.
  • Institution or Organization: the name of the college, university, or other institution where this activity took place
  • Description: a brief description of your most notable accomplishment during this activity (max 50 words).  A more complete description of this experience may be included in the “Statement of Objectives” and/or the optional “Personal Statement”.

Example A, discussion instructor

  • title: Discussion Instructor 
  • start date: 02/2021
  • end date: 05/2021
  • hours per week: 5
  • type: instructor
  • institution: University of Kansas 
  • description: I was the discussion instructor for the undergraduate physics class, PHSX 211, where I guided ~20 students through sample physics problems and they were encouraged to discuss them in a group of peers

Example B, Peer-assisted learning program

  • title: Peer-assisted learning scheme
  • start date: 09/2018
  • end date: 05/2020
  • hours per week: 3
  • type: tutor
  • institution: University College Cork
  • Description: I spent two years as a leader in my institution’s peer-assisted learning program, in which I held weekly problem-solving sessions in math/physics for students in non-STEM degree programs

The admissions committee strives to admit applicants who will maintain a vibrant and active community, in the Physics Department, at MIT, and beyond MIT.  In this section we ask you to provide a CV-like list of community engagement, leadership and outreach activities.  As with the “Research Experience” section, this list is intended to be brief.  You are invited to give more detail in the “Statement of Objectives” and/or the optional “Personal Statement”.

  • Title or Subject: a title for this activity
  • Start Date: the month and year when you started this activity (e.g., 06/2018)
  • End Date: the month and year when you finished this activity (e.g., 06/2019).  If the activity is on-going, enter the expected end date.
  • Hours per Week: the approximate average number of hours spent per week engaged in this activity (i.e., 40 for full-time, 20 for part-time, etc.)
  • Type: the type of activity.  You may enter any word or short phrase, with typical choices being: student government, club, community engagement, outreach, diversity, etc.
  • Role: your role in this activity.  Choose a few words to describe your role in the activity, such as: leadership, team member, volunteer, treasurer, etc.
  • Institution or Organization: the name of the college, university, or other institution where this activity took place
  • Description: a brief description of your most notable accomplishment during this activity (max 50 words).  A more complete description of this experience may be included in the “Statement of Objectives” and/or the optional “Personal Statement”.

Example A, volunteering time in the Society of Physics Students

  • title = Society of Physics Students
  • start date = 09/2018 
  • end date = 09/2020
  • average hours per week = 2 
  • type = student government 
  • role = team member
  • institution = University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • description = Hosted office hours throughout the semester to help students with their problem sets in physics. I also helped organize fortnightly cookie socials meant to facilitate bonding within the physics community.

Example B, leadership in the Society of Physics Students

  • title = Society of Physics Students
  • start date = 09/2020
  • end date = 05/2021 
  • average hours per week = 4 
  • type = student government
  • role = leadership
  • institution = University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • description = I was SPS President, and led a small leadership team that met monthly with the Department Head to discuss undergrad issues (e.g., police presence; see Personal Statement). We also started a fortnightly Research Feature series, inviting graduate students and faculty to talk about their research and connect with undergraduates.

Example C, tutoring at Girls Who Code

  • title = Tutor
  • start date = 06/2018
  • end date = 06/2021 
  • average hours per week = 10 
  • type = community engagement/outreach
  • role = team member
  • organization = Girls Who Code
  • description = I was a tutor at several 2-week Summer Immersion Programs every year from 2018 to 2021, teaching rising 10-12th grade students who were new to coding

Applicants with relevant experience beyond the types listed above are invited to provide a brief CV-like list of these activities in this section.  As in the previous sections, you are invited to give more detail in the “Statement of Objectives” and/or the optional “Personal Statement”.

  • Title or Subject: a title for this activity
  • Start Date: the month and year when you started this activity (e.g., 06/2018)
  • End Date: the month and year when you finished this activity (e.g., 06/2019).  If the activity is on-going, enter the expected end date.
  • Hours per Week: the approximate average number of hours spent per week engaged in this activity (i.e., 40 for full-time, 20 for part-time, etc.)
  • Type: the type of activity.  You may enter any word or short phrase, with typical choices being: work, military, etc.
  • Institution or Organization: the name of the college, university, or other institution where this activity took place
  • Description: a brief description of your most notable accomplishment during this activity (max 50 words).  A more complete description of this experience may be included in the “Statement of Objectives” and/or the optional “Personal Statement”.

Example A, optical systems engineer at NASA

  • title = Optical systems engineer at NASA
  • start date = 06/2020
  • end date = 06/2021 
  • average hours per week = 40
  • type = work
  • organization = NASA
  • description = I worked at NASA for a year designing and building optical telescopes for small spacecraft.

Example B, US Army Engineer Platoon Leader

  • title = US Army Engineer Platoon Leader
  • start date = 04/20
  • end date = 09/21
  • average hours per week = 80
  • type = military
  • organization = US Army, Army Corps of Engineers
  • description = Led a platoon of 40 combat engineers through pre-mobilization and deployment in support of US security missions overseas.

The MIT Department of Physics strives to admit students who have the potential to succeed at MIT academically; who will drive forward their fields as future researchers and teachers in academia and as leaders in industry; as well as who will make contributions to and be upstanding members of our department community. In your statement of objectives, please summarize your interests, academic and scientific achievements, research experience, and the research you hope to undertake as a doctoral student. We will evaluate applications holistically. While your research objectives and qualifications should be the central focus of your statement, we also encourage applicants to write about a broad range of objectives. Our students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, and we invite you to share any information that helps provide context for your application. Additionally, we welcome you to briefly discuss your extracurricular commitments here (or in your Personal Statement) if you would like to explain them in further detail or share information about your involvement that is not conveyed elsewhere.

Suggested length: 2 pages, 12-point font, single spaced.


This statement is a place for you to provide information that you would like the admissions committee to consider that you have not included in your statement of purpose and is strictly optional. There are a number of reasons applicants may choose not to fill in this box, including that all relevant information is conveyed elsewhere in the application.

The MIT Department of Physics is committed to upholding our Physics Community Values of respect, inclusion, collaboration, mentorship, and well-being. These ideals are essential for all of us to better contribute to teaching, research, our campus community, and the advancement of society.

Members of our community come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Within this statement we welcome you to provide any other information that you feel is necessary for the admissions committee to fully contextualize your academic achievements and to evaluate your application holistically. This may include extenuating circumstances, significant challenges that you have overcome, a non-traditional educational background, or any other information that you feel is relevant.

We also invite you to discuss your commitment to increase participation by a diverse population in higher education, your understanding of the experiences of groups historically underrepresented in the physical sciences, or your potential to bring a critical perspective to your academic career. We welcome you to share any aspects of your background that you feel exhibit your ability to contribute positively to our physics community, including details of your past contributions to mentoring, outreach, advocacy, or service.

Suggested maximum length: 500 words.