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Admissions overview

Application deadline for Fall 2024 matriculation is December 15, 2023.

The program of graduate education in Applied Physics at Stanford University is designed to prepare students for professional leadership careers in science and technology. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of Applied Physics, the Department welcomes applications both from individuals who majored in physics and from those who have a strong interest in physics but may have majored in related disciplines, e.g., electrical, mechanical or chemical engineering, materials science, biophysics, chemistry, or mathematics. However, in some cases, these students may find it necessary to spend additional time taking courses at Stanford to acquire the background to meet the requirements for advanced degrees in Applied Physics. A similar situation pertains to physics undergraduates who have been out of school for a substantial period of time.

The degrees we offer are M.S., Ph.D., and a Coterminal M.S. degree in Applied and Engineering Physics.  Please see Coterminal application page for more information about this program.

Stanford University operates on an academic year that consists of autumn, winter, spring, and summer quarters. With very rare exceptions, graduate students are admitted only at the beginning of the autumn quarter, and applications for admission and financial aid must be completed by the second week of the preceding December*.  (The specific date is determined on an annual basis; see above.) The Department’s Admissions Committee reviews applications during the month of January and notifies applicants of the admissions decision by March 15th, at the latest. Note that students are admitted to the Department as a whole, not directly to specific research groups. See the Financial Support and Rotations pages for information about finding a research advisor.

The Department of Applied Physics recognizes that the Supreme Court issued a ruling in June 2023 about the consideration of certain types of demographic information as part of an admission review. All applications submitted during upcoming application cycles will be reviewed in conformance with that decision.

The Department of Applied Physics welcomes graduate applications from individuals with a broad range of life experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds who would contribute to our community of scholars. Review of applications is holistic and individualized, considering each applicant's academic record and accomplishments, letters of recommendation, and admissions essays in order to understand how an applicant's life experiences have shaped their past and potential contributions to their field.

The Physics subject GRE exam is recommended for the Ph.D. and Master's programs. Applicants are encouraged to submit scores, but they are not required. The subject GRE score can assist the admissions committee develop a more complete evaluation of the applicant. This is especially helpful for students who apply to our program from less traditional backgrounds or for students whose academic records do not fully show off their academic strengths. The committee is quite cognizant of the limitations of the exam and does not give it weight beyond the complementary information it adds to the existing strengths in the application material. The general GRE exam is optional and has less weight in admissions evaluations compared to the subject exam. The decision on whether to submit GRE scores is completely up to the applicant.  See Application FAQs.  

Students may apply for a fee waiver if the application fee poses an obstacle. Information about the application fee and fee waivers is available from Graduate Admissions. The Department of Applied Physics does not provide fee waivers.

*Joint applicants for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program must submit their application by 1:00 pm Pacific Time on October 11, 2023 and the Applied Physics application by December 1, 2023.

Tips for applying to graduate school

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View resource from the Stanford School of Humanities & Sciences for advice about considering and applying to graduate programs.


Required Admissions Materials for M.S. and Ph.D. programs:

View Application

  • Completed online application form
  • Application fee. Payment by credit card (Visa or MasterCard only). Learn more about the application fee and fee waiver.
  • You must list and provide your unofficial transcript for every post-secondary institution where you were enrolled — or are currently enrolled — in an undergraduate or graduate degree program. Stanford considers unofficial transcripts to be sufficient for the review process. If you are offered admission to Stanford and accept the offer, you will be required to submit official transcripts/degree conferral documents. 
  • Three letters of recommendation must be submitted using the online service. Letters cannot be emailed or faxed per University policy.
  • Statement of purpose
  • The GRE is recommended but not required (verbal, quantitative, analytical, and Physics subject). If one chooses to take exams, use Code 4704 for the Institutional Code. A Department Code is not needed.
  • TOEFL (required by the University of all international applicants). Refer to the Graduate Admissions Office Website for details.

NOTE: An applicant can apply to only one department at a time.

NOTE: All supporting documents (i.e., those other than that listed above), if any, should be sent directly to the Department of Applied Physics at the following address before application due date.

NOTE: Co-applicants to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program must submit their Applied Physics application by December 1, 2023.

Department of Applied Physics, Stanford University
Rooms 116-118
348 Via Pueblo Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-4090

To obtain admissions information and to apply online please refer to the following links:
Office of Graduate Admissions
Applying for Graduate Program
Applying for Graduate Program FAQs

Required Admissions Materials for Coterminal M.S. program:

View Application

  • Completed online application form
  • Application fee. Payment by credit card (Visa or MasterCard only).
  • Two letters of recommendation must be submitted using the online service. Letters cannot be emailed or faxed per University policy.
  • Statement of purpose