Thank you for your interest in the Boston University Physics Department! We welcome you to apply to our PhD Program, where you will find a community of diverse and amicable physicists from all over the world. We pride ourselves on the close interactions between our students and faculty, as well as our experimental and theoretical research groups. Our students can take advantage of the close collaborations we have with the faculty and research labs of the College of Engineering, the School of Medicine, the Center for Polymer Studies, Neuroscience, Photonics and the Center for Nanoscience and Nano Biotechnology.

To learn more about the BU Physics PhD program, such as our selectivity rate, demographic data, completion and attrition rates, median time-to-degree, and career outcomes, please visit our PhD profile page listed here.

Check out our Physics Graduate Brochure!

Application Checklist

  1. Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Online Application
  2. A $95 application fee.
  3. Unofficial transcripts from every college or university attended.  Official transcripts will be required by the Graduate School if you are admitted, and upon your accepting our offer of admission.We respect decisions made by applicants and/or by their academic institutions regarding the enrollment in or adoption of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, Pass/No Record, Credit/No Credit, Pass/Fail and other similar grading options during the pandemic disruptions.
  4. Three Letters of Reference
  5. GRE Scores (optional). The Boston University Physics Department decided that the general GRE and physics GRE will be optional for all applicants to the Physics Ph.D. program for Fall 2023. We feel that this may provide an opportunity for students who have taken the general GRE and/or physics GRE to demonstrate an ability that is not shown otherwise in their application. We strongly recommend that applicants interested in theoretical research and international applicants submit their GRE scores with their applications, if circumstances allow. Our admissions process aims to equitably evaluate applications based on all available information, and we will perform a thorough evaluation of applications regardless of whether general GRE and physics GRE scores are submitted.
  6. Personal Statement. Please write a brief essay describing your qualifications and objectives. Include any research activities, publications, and independent studies you have completed.
  7. Resume or CV.
  8. Supplemental Materials. You are welcome to submit supplementary documents that will assist in our holistic review of your candidacy. Including full length research papers is generally not useful. But if you have relevant material not apparent in your academic record, a separate curriculum vitae submission is an opportunity to provide it. In particular, if extenuating circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic have affected you, this is an opportunity to discuss these outside your Statement of Purpose. Furthermore, the Boston University Physics Department is interested in a diverse and inclusive student population. You are welcome to describe aspects of your personal background, accomplishments, or achievements that you feel are important in evaluating your application. For example: economic challenges in achieving higher education, such as being financially responsible for family members or dependents or coming from a background of limited income. Perhaps you have unusual life experiences that might contribute to the diversity of the graduate group, such as service to under-served segments of society, or living in multicultural or multilingual communities. In reviewing this optional document, we will attempt to take such matters into account when evaluating your application.

If you are not a citizen of the United States or do not hold official United States Permanent Residency status, you will need to provide the following additional information with your application (see here for more information):

  • Certified English translations of all transcripts and academic records. We encourage international applicants to visit our Frequently Asked Questions section on submitting transcripts.
  • Official English proficiency score report sent directly from testing organization which meets the minimum requirements.

Please See:  Guidelines for submitting International Transcripts.

Please visit the Graduate School Frequently Asked Questions page for more information about testing requirements.

For more detailed information about the Boston University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the general admissions process, please refer to the Graduate School Bulletin.


Application deadline: The application deadline is December 15.  The application portal will remain open until 23:59 ET on December 15. All student submitted documents have to be posted by then to be considered. Reminder: please include an unofficial copy of your fall semester transcript.

Admission Requirements

A Bachelor’s Degree in Physics, or a bachelor’s degree in another field with comparable preparation in junior and senior level physics courses including quantum mechanics, intermediate mechanics, electricity and magnetism and statistical/thermal physics.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I can’t afford the application fee? Boston University requires that the application fee be paid before your application is forwarded to the departmental admissions committee for review. There are several special programs for fee waivers that are listed on the Graduate School page. In particular, we would like to highlight a new program by the Boston University graduate school to waive application fees for women applicants in STEM departments, including physics. U.S. citizenship or permanent residency is required for this program.

What is the basis for admission? Every year, we have several hundred applicants, and can only offer admission to a much smaller number, targeting a typical incoming class size ranging from 10 to 20 students. Our admission process is holistic, in that we consider many factors, and there is no strict cutoff based on GRE scores (optional for 2023) or GPA. We are striving to build a highly qualified and diverse class where every student has an excellent chance of thriving and working with a research advisor in their field of interest. Each year our admission goals are adjusted based on the opportunities in theoretical, experimental, and computational sub-fields, and the basis for admission varies within each discipline.

Can I arrange a visit to Boston University? To arrange a visit, please contact, at least one week in advance, the Physics Department main office at (617) 353-2600, or send an e-mail message to the Graduate Admissions Team. If you would like to sit in on a graduate-level class, please refer to our course schedule and let us know which course you would like to see. You can also refer to our research group listing and contact individual faculty members working in your area of interest. We particularly encourage students to visit on Tuesdays, when we hold our departmental colloquium. Directions to the Physics Department are available here.

Is financial aid available?  All newly admitted PhD students receive a 5-year offer of support, which may be a combination of fellowship, teaching assistantship or research assistantship. First-year students typically receive teaching assistant positions. Students are encouraged to join a research group by applying for a research assistantship. Both research and teaching assistants receive a scholarship for tuition, fees and basic medical insurance, as well as a stipend. The total stipend amount for the 2022 – 2023 academic year, including summer, is $38,253. See this page for more information.

Please refer to the Graduate School’s Admissions page for more info. For administrative questions, please contact the Graduate Admissions Team.

For additional information, come check us out on Grad School Shopper !