Requirements and Guidelines for Graduate Admission

General Graduate Program Information

The selection of students admitted to the graduate program in physics is made by the Graduate Admissions Committee. Once admitted, a student may choose to pursue either a Ph.D. or a M.S. degree. A student pursuing a Ph.D. degree will typically fulfill all the requirements for an M.S. degree in the course of their program.

Application Information

  • Most students enroll in the fall semester; spring enrollment is uncommon.
  • Apply through Graduate Studies here.
  • Apply by January 15, 2024 to ensure full consideration for fall enrollment
  • Applications for the fall semester will be reviewed on a rolling basis starting in early January. Early applications are encouraged.
  • You will find many of your answers below or at

Physics & Astronomy Graduate Contact

Graduate Program Associate
208 Jorgensen Hall

Admission Requirements

Required Qualifications

  • A bachelor’s degree in physics, mathematics, engineering, or other closely related area from an accredited college or university in the U.S. or an equivalent degree from another country.
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or greater (on the 4.0 scale) is preferred as a general guideline.
  • As a rule, applicants should have completed upper-level core physics courses in classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and thermal/statistical physics.
  • Demonstrated English proficiency (score of 80 on the TOEFL or 6.5 on the IELTS test) if English is not the applicant's native language or the official language of instruction at the institution where the degree was earned.

Application Materials

  • Transcripts are required for each institution of higher education that you have attended. Unofficial copies should be included with initial applications; official transcripts will be requested at a later stage.
  • GRE scores are optional if you are applying for Fall 2023 enrollment. If you believe that your GRE General and/or GRE Physics scores will strengthen your application, you are invited to provide them, but their absence will not adversely affect your application. If you opt to provide the scores, you may self-report them as part of your initial application, but official scores will then need to be received from ETS before an official offer of admission may be made. The UNL institution code is 6877.
  • English proficiency: If you qualify for an exemption, we recommend requesting it even if you've also taken a test.
  • Statement of purpose: Prepare a statement (1-2 page) describing your academic and research background and accomplishments, research interests, professional goals, and reasons for pursuing a graduate degree at UNL. Feel free to comment on any aspects of your record that you feel may be viewed adversely by the Admissions Committee, such as low grades, time gaps, etc.
  • Curriculum vitae: Your CV should include a complete account of your academic background, scholarly accomplishments, awards, professional activities, published work and research experience. Do not include irrelevant personal details, photographs, unrelated hobbies, etc.
  • References: Three references are strongly recommended, and the fourth one is optional. Two references may be acceptable, but we may request the third reference. You only need to provide the contact information for your references; we will contact them directly.
  • Additional documents: Include copies of your research papers, preprints, theses and other such materials that demonstrate your professional accomplishments. For papers that are published and readily available it is sufficient to include citations and URL links in the CV.
  • The application fee is normally $50. Applicants may inquire about fee waivers by writing to