Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Application Questions

What term of entry should I apply for?

Applications are considered only for the Fall semester of each year.

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

We generally do not accept applications after the deadline. We occasionally consider requests when unforeseen circumstances may have interfered with the application process.

I have a degree related to physics. May I apply?

Yes. If accepted, and depending on your background, you may be advised to take a few of our core undergraduate courses (Quantum and Classical Mechanics, Electrodynamics, and Thermal and Statistical Physics).

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.

Do you also need to receive an official transcript by the application deadline?

No, official transcripts are not required for the 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 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?

A decision regarding your application will be made late January or early February.

How many students were admitted to your program last year?

We aim to have 25 to 30 entering students every year.

Application Fee

What is the application fee?

There is a non-refundable $75.00 application fee for U.S. Citizens/Permanent residents and a $95.00 fee for international students.

Can I receive a waiver for the application fee?

No, the Graduate School and the Department will not waive the fee.

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

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

Applying for related programs

I want to apply to the Physics 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. 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 Astrophysics. Do I apply to Physics or Astronomy?

You would normally apply for admission to the Astrophysics program, although it is possible to apply to the Physics program as well.  Note that program requirements and course work are different in both programs, 

Questions about GPA

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 to grades or GPA?

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

What is the minimum GPA for admission?

While there is no minimum GPA, if your GPA is less than 3.3 the possibility of acceptance is low.

Questions about the GRE

Do I need to submit the GRE with my application?

No. GRE submission is not required for admission.

What is the institution code for the GRE?

Our institution code is 6874.

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

If your GRE scores are available, they may be submitted by the application closing date. The unofficial, self-reported score is sufficient at this point in your application, until the Graduate School receives your official scores directly. Remember that the scores are not used in the admissions process.

Questions about TOEFL

What is the institution code for TOEFL?

Our institution code is 6874.

What is the department code for TOEFL?

The department code is 76.

What is the minimum TOEFL score that you accept?

Your total TOEFL score must be 79. The writing section must be at least 21. The reading section must be at least 19. More information on this University policy can be found here.

How long is my TOEFL 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 2015. TOEFL must be no older than September 2013.)

By what day do I need to take the TOEFL?

TOEFL results are due by the closing date.

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 the closing date.

Will you accept copies of my TOEFL scores for evaluation purposes?

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

I do not have my TOEFL 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?

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.

Based on the score received on the local test, as many as two English language courses may be assigned in the first semester of enrollment. Contact Laurie Hoppe, assistant to the dean and member of The Graduate School admissions staff, at , or (612)-625-8570, for more information about the countries which require only that students be assessed on arrival.

Questions about Letters of Recommendation (LOR)

What is the deadline to submit recommendation letters?

Your application will not be reviewed until at least two letters of recommendation are received. Recommendation letters must be submitted by the closing date for full consideration of your application.

My references would prefer to send paper letters. How do they get the letters into 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 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.