Physics Graduate School Admissions (Continued)

  • 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.

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Physics Graduate School Admissions (Continued)

Postby Grant » Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:11 pm

This thread is the continuation of the Physics Graduate School Admissions? Thread.

Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 3:20 am

Anyone heard from Berkeley recently?

Postby RozminK314 » Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:13 pm

Hey guys! Anyone heard from Berkeley in the past few days? I'm really panicking here. In a graceful, non-panicking sort of way, of course. :P But really, just let me have my rejection letter already! Also, anyone else waitlisted (in purgatory)? Any advice on what to do? I've heard some people say that all you can do is wait it out, but others say that you should write the committee a letter thanking them and letting them know that you'd really love to go to school there...etc. Me, I'm not sure that people on the admissions committee would like to be pestered with my emails...but maybe some people have had success with this strategy (if you are "some people," let me know please!).

Alright, well hope everyone has a better day than the one I'm having so far!

Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2006 10:24 pm

Still no word from berkeley

Postby isjer21 » Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:46 pm

Nope, still no word for me, either, although I know some people have already been accepted. I expect the rejection soon...

I've been waitlisted at Washington, and plan to just wait it out. In my opinion it would be bad form to try to suck up to gain admission. Good luck with Berkeley and the waitlist!

Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2006 5:08 pm

waitlist advice

Postby student » Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:51 pm

To the posters above:

There are two scenarios regarding waiting lists. The department might have a small group of applicants and will reevaluate each case as spots open up. Alternatively, the department may already have a ranked list, but those rankings can be fluid. From my understanding, when dealing with waiting lists, admissions committees will keep in mind 1) how strong the applicant is, and 2) how likely the applicant is to enroll if accepted. They don't want to have to make a dozen offers to fill one recently opened spot. You are able to help your case on both fronts. My advice is to send the department an update packet with the following as soon as possible (priority 2-3 day mail, which is only $4 and will be worth it if you get to go where you want to go):

- A letter explaining how you were disappointed that you were placed on the waiting list but that the school is still your top choice and you are almost positive you would accept an invitation to attend, even if it comes at the last minute or after the April 15 deadline. I emphasize "almost positive" because you don't want to commit to anything in writing and have the department admit you without funding and expect you to come. If you want to cite a few reasons why the department is a good match for you, even if you already mentioned those in your personal statement, I don't see any harm in that. At this point, however, do not mention any specific professors or research groups because those groups may have already accepted as many students as they want or can afford.
- Fall grades (if good or decent) and new transcript
- List of courses currently in progress. Mention it if any of them are at the graduate level.
- Plans for the summer if they are physics related
- Progress on current research (if applicable)
- Remarks about honors thesis (if applicable)
- New publications or conference proceedings
- New presentations, even if simply to your research group or at a university symposium. They show that you are learning how to communicate science with others.
- Descriptions of any new awards or honors you may have received
- Perhaps a revised letter of recommendation from the recommender with whom you are the closest, especially if that recommender has some connection to the university (has colleagues there, graduated from there, etc.). Only submit this letter if the recommender can say something new since last time, such as outstanding performance in a high-level course or new results in lab research.

It's not at all bad form to continue to correspond with the department, especially if you are showing genuine interest and supplementing your application with relevant materials. These applications are not like those from undergraduate admissions when the door closed at the deadline. The applicant pools are smaller, the admissions committees are smaller, and the individuals involved tend to know or know of each other. For example, one of my recommendations came a scientist from another country (I worked abroad in a lab this past summer), and when a professor called me to inform me that I was accepted to his school, he told me that he knew my recommender from Europe.

Good luck!
Last edited by student on Mon Mar 06, 2006 8:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Thanks for advice

Postby isjer21 » Mon Mar 06, 2006 8:32 pm

Unfortunately I don't think your advice pertains to my situation:

I emailed to find out the status of my application and was told, "The Admissions Committee is still considering applications at this point. They've made the first wave of offers, so you are basically on the waitlist at the moment. I'll let you know as soon as there is a decision."

I haven't officially been placed on a waitlist, or even been notified beyond this correspondence. Let me know if you have any advice here! Thanks!

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Joined: Mon Mar 06, 2006 11:04 pm


Postby spacepilot3000 » Mon Mar 06, 2006 11:10 pm

Hi all, just thought I'd join the discussion. FWIW, here's my info:

Subject: 760
Math: 800
Verbal 600
Writing 6.0

One reu at top 10 university. GPA nearly 4.0 at a school not famous for physics.

UC Davis - A
Stanford - R
Wisconsin - A
UPenn - ?
UMaryland - ?
Columbia - ?
Johns Hopkins - A
Brown - A
Yale - A

For those who've gotten accepted to Yale, are you considering accepting? What field are you interested in? I'd like to do research in Cosmology and/or High Energy Theory and wonder if Yale is the best school for that? It seems that UC Davis has very strong programs in both areas and is on an upward trend (6 new cosmology faculty positions approved and yet to be filled and also growth in their High Energy Group).

So, what's the scoop on Yale?

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Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2006 5:08 pm

which school?

Postby student » Mon Mar 06, 2006 11:23 pm

isjer21 -- which school told you that the first wave was over but that you're still under consideration?

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Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2006 10:24 pm

Re: Student

Postby isjer21 » Tue Mar 07, 2006 12:46 am

That was Washington.

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Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 3:20 am

Thanks student!

Postby RozminK314 » Tue Mar 07, 2006 1:49 am

Thanks for the advice! I've just finished a letter for Wisconsin and will send it priority mail tomorrow. I hope it helps, but I don't think it can hurt. Haven't made one for Berkeley, as they have not officially told me that I'm on a waiting list. Besides, Wisconsin really was my first choice (and I told them so in the letter). :cry: We'll see.


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any of you berkeley people is into strings?

Postby ir » Tue Mar 07, 2006 2:03 am

want to estimate how crowded is the waiting list...

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Postby nutraello » Tue Mar 07, 2006 5:01 am

The density of states, as it were?

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Postby KMac » Tue Mar 07, 2006 10:03 am

I go to the application website for Michigan (#1 choice) for current applicants...and it has a link "View Decision." With my heart beating a little faster, I click on the link to see..."A decision has been made. Your program of application will inform you of the decision."

How useful.

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Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 3:20 am

Ouch Kmac!

Postby RozminK314 » Tue Mar 07, 2006 4:28 pm

That is cruel and unusual punishment! I believe that the University of Michigan is in violation of the Geneva conventions on this one. :P Seriously though, I've seen quite a few posts on how some schools refer you to a website to see the decision. I know that some places get a lot of applicants, but it seems rude to me. I think they should at least take the time to write an email!


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Postby CNOTE » Wed Mar 08, 2006 12:37 am

Hey everyone, I've looked at a bunch of your stats, so I feel obligated to show you mine. You know, just to give something back.

Caucasian American

Subject- 870
General GRE- Math- 800
Verbal- 780
Writing- 4.5

Research Experience- 1 REU at UCSD and not much else

BS in physics from a top 20 public school with a 4.0GPA

Urbana Champaign- Accepted
Washington- Accepted
Maryland- Accepted
Pennsylvania- Accepted
UCSD- Accepted
Stanford- Rejected
Chicago- Rejected
Berkeley- Waiting
Columbia- Waiting
Harvard- Waiting
MIT- Waiting

Of course, my best schools are still pending, but I'm not too confident anyways.

Good luck! Surprised

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Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2006 4:37 pm

Postby apple » Wed Mar 08, 2006 4:50 pm

Sorry, I put this in the wrong place before.

Hi everyone,

I'm an ill-informed UK applicant. I wondered if anyone knew anything
relevant to deciding between Chicago, Cornell and Caltech. I am
interested in theory, but not decided between condensed and particles/
fields. It looks from their website as though Caltech don't do much
theoretical condensed matter. I'd be interested in both academic and non-
academic stuff.

Also, should I assume I've been rejected from top-flight places I haven't
heard from (eg Harvard, Princeton, Berkeley) and get on with booking
a visit, etc?

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Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2006 5:08 pm

Postby student » Wed Mar 08, 2006 6:59 pm


Check out to see from where people have heard so far. Princeton has made both acceptences and rejections (strange that you haven't heard either way yet). Harvard and Berkeley appear to have sent only acceptances so far. My advice would be to go ahead and make your travel arrangements. Harvard's open house is in two weeks, and I'd doubt they would give such short notice. (I'm waiting for an answer from them, too.)

Congrats on your three C's (Chicago, Cornell, and Caltech). They are all great places for physics education.

I'm an experimentalist and cannot help you with your question about theory.

Where did you do your education in the UK?

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Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2006 4:37 pm

Postby apple » Wed Mar 08, 2006 8:13 pm

Sorry I wasn't concentrating when I wrote that. I meant MIT, not Princeton where
I've already been rejected. Thanks for the advice. At the moment I'm at Oxford.

By the way, someone mentioned the MIT administrator being rude to them. She was exceptionally rude to me too. I rang because they'd told me they hadn't received one of my references, but she couldn't understand I wasn't asking whether I'd been let in.

I'm leaning towards Chicago. Does the work ethic vary much between these
places? Which are more social places to be as a grad student (which it seems can sometimes be quite isolated).

Also, is my impression from their website correct that Caltech doesn't really focus
on condensed matter theory?


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Postby student » Wed Mar 08, 2006 8:24 pm

So you haven't heard from MIT either? I'm confused about that one because acceptances were mailed out several weeks ago, and (at least some) rejections were mailed March 1. Your letter might take longer to get to England, but my university is not that far from Boston.

I was the one who wrote about the woman being curt on the phone. All I wanted to know approximately when the last decisions would be made so I could make travel arrangements for other universities.

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Berkeley and UCLA

Postby physicsrob » Wed Mar 08, 2006 9:06 pm

Anyone know whats going on with either Berkeley or UCLA?

I heard a rumor earlier this week that that Berkeley had only gotten through half the applications...

UCLA is also driving me crazy... They've sent out acceptances and rejections, but nothing my way.

Going nuts over here...

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Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2006 4:37 pm

Postby apple » Wed Mar 08, 2006 10:51 pm

Hi Student,

It could be worse re. MIT - I was told at one point that for Maths they didn't bother
sending out rejections until right at the end, and left it for you to work out you
hadn't got in.

They told me on the sixth that everything would be mailed 'by the middle of next week'.

Re. rudeness and wilful stupidity, MIT is not the only one - also Chicago and the
people at ETS. Perhaps they get a lot of trying phone calls.

Rob, I know a guy here who was accepted to Berkeley (not sure when), but his stats were ridicululously good, so it is plausible they are still considering people.


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Postby physik » Thu Mar 09, 2006 12:53 am


I saw that you got into Cornell, congratulations!
Would you mind sharing your profile? Thank you so much.

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Postby waitingting » Thu Mar 09, 2006 1:06 am


Thanks. Hope you did notice that it was Applied Physics that I mentioned, not (pure) Physics, in case that is what you are looking for.

My profile:

phys GRE 900
general: Q800/V710/W5.5

international undergrad, engineering physics, GPA ~3.95

2 summers of research, no pubs.

Good luck to you.

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Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2006 5:08 pm


Postby student » Thu Mar 09, 2006 4:03 am


Were the people at Chicago actually rude to you? Their staff was the nicest one with which I dealt. The admissions coordinator contacted me when one of my letters of recommendation from abroad did not arrive by fax as the person said it would, and she assured me that I still had a few more days (this was already mid-January, well after the deadline) before the committee met for the first time. Maybe you were dealing with another person there.

Regarding MIT, when I called on Feb 27, the rude secretary told me that the rest of the letters would be mailed that week, which is long over. Sounds like they're taking longer than they said.

Any idea when Harvard physics (GSAS) will send rejections?

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Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2006 11:07 pm

Postby jupiter_dubois » Thu Mar 09, 2006 9:45 pm


congratulations on your cornell ap acceptance. did you receive a personalized letter from cornell? i'm a domestic student, and i've been waiting for cornell to get back to me for the longest time (its my last school i have to hear from). i contacted the department secretary and she said that shes been sending out letters every day this week (it almost sounded like she's writing personalized letters). i really dont understand why it takes so long to send out 25-30 acceptances, considering schools with many more accepted students are much faster. now there's the likely possibility that i'm not accepted, but it doesn't seem like any other domestic students have heard back either.


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Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2004 5:05 am

Postby Bufalay » Thu Mar 09, 2006 9:58 pm


My roommate was accepted to Cornell Applied Physics last week (he is a domestic applicant). Not sure if this comes as good news or not, but hopefully its helpful.

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Postby waitingting » Thu Mar 09, 2006 10:11 pm

hello Alan,

thanks. i'm not sure if it was really "personalized" but i did receive a letter addressed to me with funding and visit information. it also said they admit about 15 students each year. then after that i've received 2 emails, one (addressed to "Dear Admits") saying a little about visit days and the other about visa application (for just me, of course).

so it seems you are only waiting for cornell now... but then you got some pretty awesome admits already, including your top choices, so you're in good shape anyway.

i wish i heard from Harvard... i don't have much hope there, since it seems first round has passed, and visit days are coming up. o well. we'll see.

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Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2006 11:07 pm

Postby jupiter_dubois » Thu Mar 09, 2006 10:44 pm


i appreciate the information, not necessarily good news, but appreciated nonetheless.


the only thing that i find confusing is that on the gradschoolshopper webpage, last year cornell AP accepted 32 applicants out of 140 and 8 accepted. that's definitely more than the 15 listed in your email. i suppose not getting in will really make my decision much simpler. congrats again.

regards to both of you,

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Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 3:20 am

So no Berkeley for me

Postby RozminK314 » Thu Mar 09, 2006 11:20 pm

I called Berkeley today after seeing on the grad cafe that someone called to get their status and was told rejected. Sigh. I was told that they are not finished reviewing my application yet, but that they were almost finished and I probably wasn't going to be admitted. I was expecting this, so it didn't feel too bad. At least this experience has prepared me to give it one more shot next year. Actually, I'm amazed that I survived even this long in the Berkeley admission process. I had a 570 on the physics GRE, decent/high general GRE scores, and only about a 3.5 GPA at a small school...given these stats, I thought I would be in the first round of rejections. Of course, "almost" admitted doesn't cut it, but it does give me hope for next year.

RozminK314 :(

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Postby waitingting » Thu Mar 09, 2006 11:39 pm

o... so sorry... misread a bit... they *enroll* about 15 each year.

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Postby apple » Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:59 am

Anyone any clue what it's like as a student at caltech?

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Postby yosofun » Fri Mar 10, 2006 4:32 pm

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Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2006 11:07 pm

Postby jupiter_dubois » Fri Mar 10, 2006 4:33 pm


in two words: extremely difficult! i have a really good friend who is a first year grad at caltech and he thinks that the classes are ridiculously hard. the reason is that caltech's undergrads are taught at a really high level (goldstein for mechanics, jackson for EM as juniors/seniors.). the grad program basically picks up where the caltech undergrad leaves off. therefore, unless you have really excellent preparation, you're gonna find it to be a lot of hard work.

luckily the emphasis of the department is on research not classes. so after you learn enough in classes (all grad classes are to my knowledge pass/fail) to pass the qualifier, then all you have to do is research. that's probably going to be the fun part since caltech's professors all are badasses in their subfields.

if someone knows something contrary to this, i'd be interested to hear the input.


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Postby apple » Fri Mar 10, 2006 5:04 pm

Thanks... I get the impression that they do not really focus on cond. mat
theory - would you say that was fair?


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Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2006 11:07 pm

Postby jupiter_dubois » Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:22 pm


i would be hesitant to attend caltech for condensed matter theory. there arent that many CM theorists at caltech (especially compared to some comparable institutions like berkeley, mit, princeton, illinois, etc.). however, there are two caveats:

(1) at caltech many of the professors outside the physics department have physics backgrounds and do excellent theoretical research. i'm not very familiar with their theoretical chemists and material scientists, and both of those departments are very good.

(2) apparently many people in grad school shift from wanting to do theory to doing experiment. i'm not questioning your theory loyalty, just summarizing what everyone at my grad school visits so far has stated about incoming students. therefore, you may possibly decide to do experiment anyway.

i'm curious on the other schools you're considering, if you want to tell me on this forum or by email (jupiterd_at_ku_dot_edu), i can tell you my very biased biased opinion of other programs.


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Postby nutraello » Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:08 pm

I have a friend at CalTech for undergrad. A couple clarifications:

Goldstein and Jackson are pretty insane for undergrad coursework, even at CalTech. There are some students at that level, but the department has realized that that may not be the best way to teach advanced mechanics and e&m for the first time.

That said, the grad students who take courses (and don't pass out of them in favor of research) are somewhat behind the undergrads. But at the very least, you should be ready to take Jackson and Landau/Lifshitz.

CalTech does several things in physics very well, afaik; every professor is stellar in what they do, be it quantum optics, superconductivity / semiconductors, biophysics, lasers, quantum computing, nanophysics, string theory, etc. There are a handful of professors who work with condensed matter.

It's a risky thing going to a small university for grad school--hoping that you'll be able to work with a professor with your interests, but chances are that if you've been accepted while mentioning such a group, they'll be interested in you. Berkeley, UIUC and company may seem more reassuring, because of the scale of things. But CalTech seems like it has tons of money, so if your interests are even somewhat broad, maybe this is an easy decision.

In the sense that condensed matter theorists are useless when not connected with an experimental group, CalTech sounds viable as a place for theorists. There are certainly a lot of theorists (the bread and butter of any university, due to their cheapness), and you will be in excellent company.

Sorry, that's all I know.

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Upcoming IWP Open Houses

Postby raysum » Fri Mar 10, 2006 11:15 pm

Institute of World Politics

The first will be held on Saturday, March 18, from 2:00-5:00 p.m., and the second will be held on Thursday, March 23, from 5:30-8:00 p.m.

It is located at 1521 16th Street, NW in Washington, D.C. On-street parking is available near the Institute and the nearest Metro stop is Dupont Circle (red line).

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Postby apple » Sat Mar 11, 2006 12:03 am

Cheers Nutraello & Jupiter for helpful comments.

In reply to Jupiter, I am considering Chicago, Caltech and Cornell. There
are some others I have been rejected by (Stanford, Princeton, Columbia), some I haven't heard from and
assume will send rejections soon enough (inc. MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, UPenn,

A while ago I wouldn't have expressed interest in CMT, instead in things like
topological defects in field theory, tho' not strings or BSM (don't they know that
stands for bondage and sado-masochism?). But recently I've warmed to the
idea of tinkering with models in statistical physics. At Caltech they seem to
focus on materials not models.

By the way, what sort of 'stats' does a typical Harvard/MIT entrant have? Will
they have some serious research experience (i.e. research another person
is interested in reading)?

What are you guys up to?

Anyone know about Chicago & Cornell?


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Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2006 11:07 pm

Postby jupiter_dubois » Sat Mar 11, 2006 3:02 am


i am personally interested in experimental nanoscience (at this point i'm deciding between two schools on the east coast), so my knowledge of condensed matter theorists is more limited than for experimentalists. however, i have also researched into both cornell and chicago.

first, let me say that i think these three C's are all wonderful schools. i get the distinct feeling that graduate school at any of these institutions will be challenging and rewarding. all have excellent reputations for training their students (and future professors), so i don't think that you can make a "bad" choice. furthermore, there are undoubtedly world-class professors in CM at all three institutions, all you need is one professor with whom you can get along and discover some interesting physics.

with that said, i have some i very biased opinions about where i would like to go if i did CM experiment or theory. i think that cornell has better condensed matter experiment and theory than caltech. this is my own assessment of the number of professors doing work that i find interesting at both schools. i think that chicago has a comparable theoretical CM emphasis as cornell, but inferior experiment to both caltech and cornell. thus, if i were thinking only of doing CM theory, i would choose between cornell and chicago based upon other factors like where I want to live and specific profs I want to work for.

again, these are my biased opinions and i encourage you to look at the specific research of the CM faculty at all three schools to help you make your decision. i really think that you have a "high-class" problem of choosing among 3 of the best institutions for physics in the world. congrats again on your acceptances.


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Postby GDD » Sun Mar 12, 2006 9:44 am

Hi all,

I am an international applicant from India.
I would really appreciate any advise on the following matter.

I have been accepted to SUNY,SB ant UT-Austin recently. I plan to do high engery theory, supersymmetry, string theory etc what would be a better place to do such work?
yet to hear from ucsb,harvard,mit,berkeley but I think there is very slim probability that I would be accepted to one of these so I guess I have to decide between sunysb and ut.
Your comments would be really helpful.

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Postby GDD » Mon Mar 13, 2006 6:25 am

one more thing i would like your advice on.

are ut and sunysb better places for hep-th than rutgers and boston universuty...
coz i was just thinking of withdrawing my application from rutgers and bu

plz do reply

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Postby sim4 » Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:52 pm


i have some news for you.

rutgers is one of top top schools for high energy theory. they are not top in anything else. and in fact i would advise against going there unless you wanted to do high energy theory.

they are one of those anomalies.

this may surprise you, but it is true. they are comparable to any of the top 5 schools (again, only in high energy theory though) ; the only drawback is of course, that new brunswick is a dump.

so my advice to you would be not to withdraw as rutgers is much stronger than ut or stonysb.

i find it curious though that you did not know this.

as for sunysb, it in general had a pretty good rep in the past and is probably still superior to BU.



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physics @ Harvard admission decisions

Postby heavyfermion » Thu Mar 16, 2006 3:40 pm

FYI, I contacted Ms. Sheila Ferguson (grad program coordinator for physics) at Harvard by e-mail, she said the GSAS is supposed to mail the decisions tomorrow. She told me I was refused, but was very kind and told me that out of 500 applicants only 30 got in.

Haven't got anything from Berkeley yet, nor UCSB or UCLA

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Postby BigDave » Tue Mar 21, 2006 11:07 pm

hey guys, i had a few questions for anyone in the know.
I am currently a freshman, sophmore by credits at FSU currently enrolled as a physics major. I plan on double majoring in physics and applied math taking physics up to quantum b, particle and nuclear physics and a few other classes of that level. As far as math goes I will take up to Adv Calc 2 and some other classes at about that level. I am getting involved in research in fluid dynamics and will be at least a contribuiting author on a few papers next year and hopefully have one of my own and hopefully again senior year. Will it be possible for me to get into a top teir physics grad school coming from FSU? My GPA should be around 3.85 at the end of the semester and it should stay around there. Standardized tests have never really been a problem. My brother was in the 99th % for the LSAT and i assume I should do ok on the GRE's so my real question is just can I get into Harvard, MIT, Princeton, etc from FSU if I do everything right? thanks......

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Postby bourbaki » Thu Mar 23, 2006 11:20 am

This is my first time to post a message here. (I was just reading. Thank you all for sharing your precious information! I would like to give my information, too.)

I am an international student from asia (not China or India).
I go to the best undergraduate institution (I believe) in my country.
My whole undergraduate GPA is 3.89. Major GPA (physics) is 3.95.

I have no publication. I am not sure what "research experience", as you all say, really means, but I have one experience of research like experiment. (Oh, I would like to do theory in graduate school.)
I had three excellent LORs, one from former president of the physical society of my country.

GRE scores:
Physics: 990
Verbal: 530
Math: 800
Writing: 4.5

I applied to four graduate schools, and the results are as follows:
Harvard --- rejected
MIT --- rejected
Cornell --- rejected
UIUC --- accepted

Apparently, no choice!! ha ha!!
Thank you Illinois, only school that made a sensible decision!!

What I want to tell from my experience is "good gre physics score doesn't count much." Use time to improve your other parts, which I still don't know.

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Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 3:20 am

Hi bourbaki

Postby RozminK314 » Tue Mar 28, 2006 2:24 am

Hello, I mean absolutely no offense by this bourbaki, but the admissions criteria for most schools are quite different for international students vs. domestic students. For example, with you, apparently a perfect score on the physics gre did not turn heads enough to get an admission at some schools (not at all saying that you're not an exceptional student; you did waaaay better than I did!). However, if a domestic applicant had that kind of score, or even a score anywhere in the 900s, I'm not sure the same thing would happen. I believe that the simple reason for this is that American students do not tend to score as well on the test as foreign students do; a good score may "count" more for us, and thus it might be more worth pursuing for an American student than it would be for a foreign student. From what I've been told by admissions secretaries, applicants are often culled by their gre scores first, so a high score can indeed be helpful. But, as you noted, it will only get you a foot in the door. To guarantee admission at a top school, I think you have to be an awesome student all around...on that note, congrats to you and all the others here who ARE awesome students and did get into top schools!


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Postby tea » Tue Mar 28, 2006 3:06 pm

I am also an international student.
GRE isn't important, then what is important?
In a small country llike my country, there is little information :cry:
But I am now junior, so I have time to prepare.

Anyone who are admitted to schools such as Caltech, MIT etc. :shock:
Please give me some advice.
Publication? GRE? GPA? Recommendation? Statement of Purpose?
Which is the major factor contributing to your admission?

Posts: 51
Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2004 5:05 am

Postby Bufalay » Tue Mar 28, 2006 3:28 pm

The GRE is very important for international students. It seems that in order for an international student to get accepted to the top schools a near perfect score is necessary. However, this is just a prerequisite and is not sufficient on its own. Just like all other applicants a strong overall record is important.

One such aspect of this is research experience. Good research experience along with strong letters from research advisers will go a long way.

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Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 7:49 am

Postby bourbaki » Tue Mar 28, 2006 11:59 pm

Hello everyone.

It is a mystery that international students score higher in tests made by American institution. Anyway, maybe I was lucky enough that I was accepted to at least one graduate school.

I cannot understand why many of you already have research experiences. In my country, it is common that students get first research experience in graduate school. In case of high-energy theory, students conduct first research after receiving master's degree (it is usually two years after their enrollment to graduate school). It is a surprising fact for me that, in the U.S., even undergraduate students can do original work. Maybe this lack of research experience is why I was rejected by many top schools.

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International Undergrad

Postby HCarias » Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:32 am

I'm many other countries (the UK comes to mind) undergraduates do not have to waste their time with general education classes and can thus spend more time learning physics. Furthermore, competition is more keen among internationals so even with the same average scores, the average scores of an admitted applicant would be greater than their American counterparts.

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Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2006 11:07 pm

New US News Physics Rankings

Postby jupiter_dubois » Fri Mar 31, 2006 3:29 pm

Hey y'all.

I just want to let you know that the new US News rankings for physics came out today (finally after 4 years). They did a good job of splitting up the fields. Plasma, AMO, Condensed Matter, Quantum, Nuclear are all their own fields now. Perhaps if you're waving on a decision between two schools the new rankings will sway you one way or the other.

Good luck with decisions,

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