Prospective Physics Graduate Students

[ Updated on November 16, 2020 10:46 AM ]

Thank you for your interest in the MIT Physics graduate program! physics-grad@mit.edu.

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. We are 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 physics.

Graduate applications are evaluated for our doctoral (PhD) program in Physics, which builds on an undergraduate degree in Physics or similar background. Most people apply during their final year of an undergraduate Bachelor degree or while completing a Master degree at another university. Only applications received from members of the U.S. military may be considered for a Master of Science degree in Physics at MIT.

Please review the following list of application materials, resources, and our COVID-19 statement below about materials submitted during the pandemic.

Also, to stay up-to-date on how MIT is tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit https://now.mit.edu.

 

Shaping a quartz tube: Physics graduate student Linda Ye uses a hot flame to shape a neck in a quartz tube in Checkelsky Lab at MIT. The tube is used for synthesizing crystals at high temperature. “Materials like iron are easily reacted with oxygen in air, so we want an isolated environment for the raw materials to be grown,” she says. The neck makes it easier to seal the tube. Photo: Denis Paiste/Materials Processing Center
Shaping a quartz tube: Physics graduate student Linda Ye uses a hot
flame to shape a neck in a quartz tube in Checkelsky Lab at MIT. The
tube is used for synthesizing crystals at high temperature. “Materials like
iron are easily reacted with oxygen in air, so we want an isolated
environment for the raw materials to be grown,” she says. The neck
makes it easier to seal the tube.
Photo: Denis Paiste/Materials Processing Center

Applying to the MIT Department of Physics

We know that the application process can be time-consuming, stressful, and costly. We are committed to reducing these barriers and to helping all applicants receive a full and fair assessment by our faculty reviewers. During the admission season, prospective students who have questions about the admissions process, graduate student life, and research areas may request additional information from our current students, whether as a response to a specific individual question or for more in-depth assistance as they compile their application materials. Most of these resources will be available throughout the application period, but early inquiries are encouraged; we may not be able to respond to late inquiries. Here are some resources for applicant:

The list below describes the important elements of a complete application. Please reach out to us at physics-grad@mit.edu if you have a concern or logistical difficulty that could prevent you from providing your strongest application.

Required for a Complete Application:

  1. Application Fee: $75
    Applicants who feel that this fee may prevent them from applying should send a short email to physics-grad@mit.edu to describe their general reasons for requesting a waiver. We will follow up with information about how to apply for a formal ‘application fee waiver’. Additional documents may be required, so additional time will be necessary to process requests. Either the fee or a formal fee waiver is required with a submitted application.
  2. University Transcripts:
    Unofficial transcripts are sufficient for our initial review, with final transcripts required as a condition of matriculation for successful applicants. Applicants should include a scan of their transcript(s) and, if a degree is in progress, should include a list of the class subjects being taken in the current semester. The GradApply portal will allow applicants to log back into the application after the deadline to add their Fall term grades when they are available. We will respect decisions regarding the adoption of Pass/No Record (or Credit/No Credit or Pass/Fail) and other grading options during the unprecedented period of COVID-19 disruptions, whether those decisions were made by institutions or by individual students.
  3. Standardized Test Results:
    • GRE General TestNot considered in 2020 under COVID-19 special policy.
    • GRE Physics Subject TestNot considered in 2020 under COVID-19 special policy.
    • TOEFL or IELTS Test or a waiver is required for non-native English speakers. MIT’s TOEFL school code is 3514; the code for the Department of Physics is 76.  IELTS does not require a code. Self-reported scores are sufficient for our initial application screening, with official scores required for admitted students as a condition of their offer. Applicants should attach a scanned copy of their test score report. Eligibility for TOEFL/IELTS waivers is in our FAQ section (https://web.mit.edu/physics/prospective/graduate/faq.html).
  4. Letters of Recommendation:
    Letters should include any individual work applicants have done and/or areas where they have special strengths. It is possible to submit up to 6 total letters, but 3 are sufficient for a complete application and committee members may evaluate applications based on the first three letters that they read.
  5. Statement of Objectives:
    Research is central to graduate study in physics. The Statement of Objectives/Purpose should include descriptions of research projects, aptitude and achievements as completely as possible. This important part of the application provides an opportunity to describe any interests, skills, and background relative to the research areas selected on the application form. Applicants should share anything that prepares them for graduate studies and describe their proudest achievements.

    Additional Application Materials
  6. Research, Talks, Presentations, and Papers - Any special background or achievement that prepares the applicant for Physics graduate studies at MIT. This may include research at their undergraduate school as part of their Bachelor or Master degree, or summer research at another program or school, such as MIT.
  7. Awards, Scholarships, and Publications – This includes any current nominations for scholarships or papers submitted for publication. Once the honor has been awarded or the paper has been accepted for publication, applicants will be able to log back into this section to update their information, even after the December 15 deadline.
    Optional Personal Statement - Members of our community come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. We welcome any personal information that will help us to evaluate applications holistically and will provide context for the applicant’s academic achievements. This statement may include extenuating circumstances, significant challenges that were overcome, a non-traditional educational background, description of any advocacy or values work, or other information that may be relevant.

When/How to apply:

The application is online at MIT Graduate Application. Applications can be submitted between September 15 and December 15 for the following year. (Applications for 2021 are due by 12/15/2020).

Our Frequently Asked Questions (https://web.mit.edu/physics/prospective/graduate/faq.html) provide further information about degree requirements, funding, educational background, application deadlines, English language proficiency, program duration, start dates and deferrals, and fee waiver requests.

 

Graduate Admissions Statement regarding Applications during COVID, Summer 2020

In recognition of the significant disruptions caused by Covid-19, specifically the challenges of finding a practical testing site and date, the MIT Physics Department is not accepting Physics GRE or General GRE scores for applications received by the December 15, 2020 deadline for the academic year starting in 2021.  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 test or Physics subject test scores.

MIT has also adopted the following principle: MIT’s admissions committees and offices for graduate and professional schools will take the significant disruptions of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 into account when reviewing students’ transcripts and other admissions materials as part of their regular practice of performing individualized, holistic reviews of each applicant.

In particular, as we review applications now and in the future, we will respect decisions regarding the adoption of Pass/No Record (or Credit/No Credit or Pass/Fail) and other grading options during the unprecedented period of COVID-19 disruptions, whether those decisions were made by institutions or by individual students. We also expect that the individual experiences of applicants will richly inform applications and, as such, they will be considered with the entirety of a student’s record.

Ultimately, even in these challenging times, our goal remains to form graduate student cohorts that are collectively excellent and composed of outstanding individuals who will challenge and support one another.

Questions or concerns about this statement should be directed to the Physics Department (physics-grad@mit.edu).