Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Students

Can I receive a fellowship or scholarship if I am accepted?
The Department of Physics at the University of Florida provides a living stipend to all students admitted to the graduate program. In Fall 2014 the annual stipend is US $23,000 for new teaching assistants and slightly less for grading assistants (who have not yet passed the TSE). Full tuition and a health insurance benefit are provided as well. Fellowships that enable students to concentrate entirely on study and research are available in limited number. All applicants for admission will automatically be considered for such fellowships. You do not need to submit a separate application. On rare occasions we have accepted students who provided their own funds for their initial year(s) of their graduate study.


Should I check "fellowship", "scholarship", and/or "assistantship" on the application form?
It does not matter. The Physics Department will automatically consider you for any fellowships and assistantships that are available.


I cannot afford to pay the $30 application fee. Can I pay it after I am admitted?
No. We realize that the fee may impose a hardship on some applicants, particularly international applicants. However, please understand that the $30 fee is not collected by the Physics Department. It is required and collected by the University of Florida Office of Admissions. We are not permitted to admit any student whose complete application has not been received by the Admissions Office - and this includes payment of the fee. Therefore we simply cannot consider your application until your fee is paid. If you have a friend in the United States, he/she can pay your fee for you.


What is the minimum grade point average (GPA) required for admission to the UF graduate physics program?
University of Florida Graduate School regulations prevent us from admitting applicants with a GPA below 3.0. Applicants with a GPA below 3.25 should be really exceptional in some respect to be given full consideration.


Is there a minimum TOEFL score?
See the information posted by the Office of Admissions. The Graduate School of the University of Florida requires a score of at least 80 on the internet version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). We pay particular attention to the spoken English portion of the TOEFL: Students with spoken English scores below 23 are unlikely to be offered a teaching assistantship by the Physics Department.


I have not yet taken the [TOEFL or GRE] test but the admissions application deadline is approaching. Can I take the test now and submit my scores late?
The University of Florida Office of Admissions requires GRE scores for all applicants and TOEFL scores for most international applicants. We are not permitted to admit any student whose complete application has not been received by the Admissions Office - and this includes submission of test scores. The Physics Department will not consider an applicant who does not submit a physics GRE score.


I have a three-year baccalaureate degree in physics. Can I apply to your PhD program?
Students holding a diploma from one of the 46 European nations that participate in the Bologna Process will typically qualify for admission to our PhD program. All other students must possess a recognized baccalaureate, graduate or professional degree from a regionally accredited college or university, or an international equivalent based on a four-year curriculum. See the Office of Admissions website for details.


Can you tell me if all of my application materials have been received?
When you complete the online application you will receive login information that will allow you to verify the receipt of your application materials by the UF Office of Admissions. The Physics Department however does not have an online system for checking application status, nor do we have sufficient staff to research all of the queries that we receive regarding application status. Therefore please understand that we cannot verify the receipt of individual applications. Please refer to the table on our Admissions webpage to check that you have sent all the required items.


I have already taken the GRE and TOEFL but I have not yet received my official score reports. I am worried that the official reports will not arrive before your application deadline. What should I do?
The University of Florida Office of Admissions requires GRE scores for all applicants and TOEFL scores for most international applicants. We cannot admit any student whose complete application has not been received by the Admissions Office - and this includes submission of test scores. Therefore please ask ETS to send an official score report to the University of Florida Office of Admissions (institution code 5812).


How many students do you usually accept each year?
In recent years each incoming class has brought 25-30 new students. Our graduate program presently enrolls about 130 graduate students.


What percentage of International students do you accept?
A rough average over the last several years gives approximately 50% international students.


How many years do students in the UF program typically take to complete their degree?
The average time to the PhD degree has recently been about 5.5 years. This is the average for US physics programs overall.


What is a Ronald McNair Scholar? The UF McNair Scholars Program, named in honor of Dr. Ronald E. McNair (an African-American engineer, scientist and astronaut who perished in the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger) exists to support undergraduate college students from low-income, first-generation and underrepresented backgrounds in their progress towards a doctoral degree (US citizens only). More information is available at: http://gradschool.rgp.ufl.edu/diversity/mcnair.html


What is the FAMU feeder program and am I eligible?
The Florida A&M University (FAMU) Feeder Program matches qualified FAMU graduates, interested in pursing advanced degrees (particularly doctorates), with one of the three to five admission/financial aid packages reserved for them at 47 graduate degree-granting institutions each year. If you qualify for this program, additional details are located at: http://gradschool.rgp.ufl.edu/diversity/famu-feeder.html


What is distance learning? Courses for credit taken over the worldwide web. The physics program does NOT offer such courses as part of its graduate program.


What is a joint degree program? Refers to programs involving more than one academic department, e.g. political science and law. Although there are no formal joint degree programs in the physics graduate program, many students receive interdisciplinary training as a part of their PhD studies.


What is a 3/2 program?
The 3/2 program refers to a 5-year program in which a student obtains a bachelor's and master's degree as part of one package. Prospective physics graduate students who already have a bachelor's degree (or equivalent) do not qualify for this program. If you do qualify for this program and are interested in this degree path, you must contact the Undergraduate Coordinator in the Department of Physics for advice about your possible plans.


I am not a physics major. Can I still apply for admission to your graduate program?
Yes. Many students apply with an undergraduate major in another area of math, science, or engineering. We do not restrict our admissions to physics majors. But keep in mind that the admissions committee will look for evidence of solid undergraduate preparation in physics. If you have not taken many upper-division physics courses you may be at a disadvantage. If you are lacking many of the core subjects (e.g. electromagnetism, thermal physics, mechanics, quantum mechanics) you will have a difficult time in any physics graduate program. A weak undergraduate preparation in physics may also affect your performance on the physics GRE, which is a required component of your application. But generally, if you have done well overall in any undergraduate program with a strong math and physics component, then you may be a good candidate for admission.


I have plenty of other questions about the PhD program. Where can I go for quick answers?
In many instances, specific questions about our PhD program are answered on the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) webpage written for students who have joined our Department. This webpage, the FAQ for current students, is where you might find your answers. If you have additional questions, the Chair of the Graduate Recruiting and Admissions Committee or the Graduate Coordinator will be happy to address them.