Carnegie Mellon University

Physics Ph.D. program admission

Students who are finishing a B.S., B.A. or M.S. degree in Physics or a closely related subject will be considered for admission to graduate study in the CMU Physics program. For full consideration, applications should be complete and submitted by our

Application deadline: Dec.-15.
A $25 application fee is required.

For a complete application package please provide the following items:
(1) Transcript: An official copy of your transcript is required from all college-level institutions  you attended – independent of whether you received a degree or not. Please have transcripts sent directly to the CMU Physics Department by your university.
(2) GRE and TOEFL: Arrange for your GRE General and GRE Subject Test scores, as well as your TOEFL scores to be sent to Carnegie Mellon University directly.
(3) Have these test scores sent to:

   Head of Graduate Admissions
   Department of Physics
   Carnegie Mellon University
   5000 Forbes Ave.
   Pittsburgh, PA 15213, U.S.A.

(4) Online Application: Our Online Application System opens typically by mid to end of October. Create an account and apply online.
(5) Letters of recommendation:  Please provide 3 letters of recommendation from professional references. At least one letter should be from the institution that you currently attend or attended most recently. Your recommenders will receive instructions after you completed the online application.

To be admitted to graduate study in the Department of Physics, an applicant must have graduated from a recognized four-year college, university or institute of technology, or must have earned equivalent credentials. Applications should be complete and submitted by December 15 to begin study in the Fall semester of the following year. All applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test and the GRE Subject Test in Physics. These are used together with the other application material in selecting students. Only complete applications will receive full consideration.

A complete application package consists of:

  • A completed online application.
  • Transcripts from all college-level institutions attended, whether or not you received a degree.
  • Three letters of recommendation from professional references (at least one from your current or most recent institution).
  • An official report of the GRE General Test and the GRE Subject Test in Physics. See GRE Website for more information. The GRE Institution Code for Carnegie Mellon is 2074 and the GRE Department Code for Physics is 0808. To ensure that the scores reach us in time, you should take the GRE tests no later than November.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must document sufficient language proficiency. We accept both the official reports from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The TOEFL Institution Code for Carnegie Mellon is 2074 and the TOEFL Department Code for physics is 76. We recommend that you take the internet-based test (TOEFL iBT), but the paper-based test (TOEFL PBT) is also acceptable.

Terms and Conditions

Admission FAQ

Recommended preparation level

The following coursework is considered to be part of a regular undergraduate preparation (with textbook examples indicating the general level of proficiency):

  • Intermediate Mechanics (Thornton & Marion)
  • Electricity and Magnetism (Griffiths)
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics (Callen, Guenalt)
  • Atomic Physics (Eisberg & Resnick)
  • Elementary Quantum Mechanics (Griffiths)
  • Modern Physics Laboratory
  • Electronics
  • Advanced Calculus