Graduate Application FAQ

For general information on the application process, please refer to our application information page. To access the UMN Graduate School Application, please visit the graduate admissions website.

Below are some frequently asked questions about the application process to our Institute. If you require further information, please call the Institute office at (612) 624-4811 or email

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Questions about applications

What term of entry should I apply for?

The Astrophysics Graduate Program only accepts applications for Fall admissions.

I missed the deadline for application. May I still apply?

Please email to inquire if late applications are being accepted.

I have a degree related to physics. What courses will I need to take before admission?

All four of the core physics courses at the sophomore, junior, or senior undergraduate level are required for full preparation for admission: analytical mechanics, electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, and thermodynamics & statistical physics. Some applicants with unique backgrounds may be allowed to take missing classes after they matriculate.

Is it possible to obtain a degree in Physics at night and on weekends?

No. We do not offer courses at night or on weekends.

What supporting materials are required for application?

Please submit the following materials through our online application system:

  1. Unofficial transcripts**
  2. TOEFL and IELTS score (required for international students)**
  3. Three letters of recommendation
  4. (Optional) General GRE score

**Official transcripts and TOEFL scores are not required until admission has been offered and accepted by the applicant.

Do you also need to receive official transcript by January 10?

No, official transcripts are not required for this deadline. Scanned copies are acceptable for the application. If you are accepted to the program and decide to matriculate at the University of Minnesota, official transcripts will be required by the Graduate School before registration.

I have already applied. I just received my GRE and/or TOEFL scores. How do I submit my scores to update my application?

Test scores must be sent directly to the Graduate School from the respective testing centers.

I am an international applicant. I can not send electronic copies of my supporting materials.

Paper copies can be sent directly to the Graduate School. Please note that paper copies will delay the processing of your application.

How can I check the status of my application or application materials?

To check your application status, log into your application through graduate admissions. You will see the Application for Admission section, which contains updates about the status of your application materials, including letters of recommendation, standardized test scores (like GRE or TOEFL), and transcripts.

Can I change my application after it has been submitted?

Please try to complete your application carefully before you submit. If absolutely necessary, changes to your application can be considered by sending your request to Updated test scores are automatically reflected in the application system upon receipt of new scores by the Graduate School.

When will I hear if I have been accepted?

Admission decisions will be sent via email through graduate application system in late March or early April.

Can I have an advisor outside of Astrophysics?

Yes, as long as he/she does astrophysics-related research. Please see the list of our graduate faculty members here.

Do all admitted students have their tuition waived?

We only offer financial support to those applicants admitted to our PhD program. Please contact with any questions.

Application fee

What is the application fee?

There is a non-refundable $75 application fee for U.S. Citizens/Permanent residents and a $95 fee for international students.

Can I receive a waiver for the application fee?

We have very limited funds for the fee waiver. Please contact for details.

Can I defer payment of the application fee until the Institute makes a decision?

No, the application fee cannot be deferred. All offers of financial support are pending completion of the application.

Applying to related programs

I want to apply to the Astrophysics program and another graduate program outside of physics. Can I apply to both programs?

Yes, you can apply to both programs but you will need to complete and submit two different applications through graduate admissions. Please note that this means you will also have to pay two application fees if the other program requires one. You will also have to check with the other program(s) on their admission application requirements.

I am interested in Physics. Do I apply to Physics or Astrophysics?

If you are primarily interested in physics, apply to the Physics program. The Physics and Astrophysics graduate programs look at each other's applications to identify students who are unsure which program to apply for, and can suggest a course of action.

If you would like to be considered for both the physics and astrophysics graduate programs, apply to the one that you think is the best fit and send emails to and with your intention to be considered by both programs.

Questions about GPA

What is the minimum GPA for admission?

While there is no minimum GPA, if your GPA is less than 3.5 the possibility of acceptance is low.

I am an international student. The university in our country does not issue grades or GPA. They issue percentage points. How do I translate these numbers in to grades or GPA?

There is no need to translate these numbers in to grades or GPA. You will have the opportunity to specify the grading scale in the online application.

Questions about the GRE

What is the institution code for the GRE?

Our institution code is 6874.
Our department code is 0802.

What is the deadline for GRE scores to be considered as part of my application?

GRE scores should be submitted by January 10. The unofficial, self-reported score is sufficient for the Astrophysics program to consider your application until the Graduate School receives your official scores.

I have taken my GRE, but have not been notified of the score. Can I still apply?

Yes. You can indicate the date of your most recent exam on the Test Information page in the online application. Official GRE scores must be sent directly to the institution from the testing center. Your application will automatically reflect any updated test scores.

Can I be admitted without the GRE?

Yes, the General GRE score is not required.

What are the average GRE scores of the program's admitted applicants?

The percentile averages for all admitted applicants between 2014-2016 are:

  • Verbal average: 71%
  • Quantitative average: 91%
  • Writing average: 57%
  • Physics subject average: 65%

Questions about the TOEFL and IELTS

What is the institution code for the TOEFL and IELTS?

Our institution code is 6874.
Our department code is 61.

What are the minimum TOEFL and IELTS scores that you accept?

Your total TOEFL score must be 80. The writing section must be at least 21. The reading section must be at least 21. More information on this University policy can be found here.

Your total IELTS score must be 6.5. The writing section must be at least 6.5. The reading section must be at least 6.5.
The University of Minnesota Twin Cities does not accept the IELTS One Skill Retake.

How long is my TOEFL and IELTS score valid?

Your TOEFL score must not be less than two years old from the semester you are accepted. (For instance, if accepted for September 2019. TOEFL must be no older than September 2017.)

By what day do I need to take the TOEFL or IELTS?

TOEFL results are due by January 10.

The TOEFL score that I submitted is not high enough for your program. I would like to take the TOEFL again. Will you accept my new scores?

Yes, the results must arrive by January 10.

What is your University's policy on TOEFL or IELTS?

Please see here.

Will you accept copies of my GRE and TOEFL/IELTS scores for evaluation purposes?

No. GRE and TOEFL scores must be sent directly to the Graduate School from the GRE and TOEFL testing centers.

I do not have my TOEFL or IELTS score in time for the application deadline. Can I still submit my application?

Yes. You should note in the "comments section" that your TOEFL score is forthcoming.

I am from an international but English speaking country, do I really need to take the TOEFL or IELTS?

Exceptions to the English language requirement are made for students who have completed one academic year (nine months) in residence as a full-time student (16 semester credits, 24 quarter credits) in the last 24 months at an institution within the United States or other English-speaking countries. These students are not required to present English language scores for admission, but will be assessed for English proficiency on arrival at the University. The policy can be found here.

Questions about letters of recommendation

What is the deadline to submit recommendation letters?

Your application will not be reviewed until at least three letters of recommendation are received. Recommendation letters must be submitted by January 10 for full consideration of your application.

My references would prefer to send paper letters. How do they get the letters in to the on-line application?

We prefer that your references upload their recommendation letters to the online application system using the log-in information provided to them in their email notification.

How do I know whether or not my references have submitted their letters of recommendation?

Once your recommender has submitted their letter you will automatically receive an email notification from the system that the recommendation has been received. You can also check the status of your application and send email reminders to your recommenders.

Can I submit my application before all of my recommendation letters have been submitted?

Yes. You do not need to wait for your recommendation letters to be submitted before completing your application.

Is it possible to change one of my references after I have submitted my application?

Please check with your references before submitting your application. Choose your references carefully. If you need to make a change, please contact

I am concerned that one of my references will not submit the reference letter on time. Should I add a fourth reference?

No. Please choose your references carefully.