Application Requirements

Students with a bachelor’s degree in physics or a closely related area are prepared to begin graduate studies in physics at Lehigh and are encouraged to apply. Students with degrees in related areas will also be considered; their graduate programs will be designed to make up for possible deficiencies in physics or mathematics preparation.

Admissions Standards

We seek academically prepared and motivated students for our graduate program.  Applicants with an academic record that included advanced courses in physics and mathematics are ready for graduate-level classes and research.  In the evaluation process we review all details of the application, including performance in individual math and science classes, and the ability to grapple with complex quantitative questions.  We review all elements of an application to understand a student’s prior accomplishments and capability to carry out graduate-level original research in physics.  We seek students from a range of backgrounds and perspectives to contribute to a diverse and inclusive departmental culture.  Prior experience in scientific research is a benefit, but we realize that not all undergraduates have equal access to such opportunities.

We seek well-prepared students for both the master’s program and the PhD program, although the admissions criteria are not the same for both.  Students who are admitted to the MS program may choose to apply to the PhD program once they have completed their master’s work, and they will be onsidered for admission to the PhD program together with all the other applicants.

International Applicants

Our graduate program has an English language proficiency requirement. Apart from students who have done undergraduate or graduate studies in the United States or another English speaking country during the two years before application, all international applicants are required to demonstrate English proficiency. In most cases this is done by taking the TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language), IELTS (International English Language Testing System), or the Duolingo English Test (DET).

There are minimum scores required to be admitted without any remedial language assistance. For the TOEFL, they are Writing = 25, Speaking = 24, Reading = 21, Listening = 15, and a composite score of 85. For the IELTS, they are Writing = 6.5, Speaking = 7.5, Reading = 6.5, Listening = 6.0, and a band score of 6.5. For Duolingo the minimum score is 115.

Admitted student who do not reach those minimum scores, will need to take additional required ESL (English as a Second Language) coursework during the initial academic year, concurrently with the regular department coursework. This will be the case for any student with (A) one or two individual skill section scores below target, but with a composite above the target, or (B) only one individual skill section below target, but a composite score below the target.

Any student with three skill section scores below target, or two skill sections below target and a composite score below, will be required to attend the StepUp Intensive English Program at Lehigh. This intensive coursework will need to be taken on the Lehigh Campus during the Summer preceding admission. The  university’s International Center for Academic and Professional English provides more information regarding this requirement.

For general questions related to visas and immigration it is also worth visiting Lehigh’s Office for International Students and Scholars.

Items that must be submitted with an application

Applications must be submitted on-line. The system will require the following items:

  • Application form including contact information for the applicant, a CV, a personal statement, and other information.
  • Official transcripts from each university attended, listing the type of degree and the date it was awarded. Foreign transcripts must include notarized English translations and conversion of grades to the American 4.0 grading scale.
  • At least three letters of recommendation. The on-line application has a section in which the names and email addresses of recommendation letter writers can be entered.  Once the application is submitted, an automated email will be sent to the letter writers informing them of the request, with instruction on how to submit the letters through the online system.
  • A $75 non-refundable application fee.
  • Test scores that are less than 5 years old:
    • TOEFL or IELTS tests. These are required for international applicant unless they have attended an English-language institution in the two years before applying the United States or another English speaking country. In some cases, they can be replaced by an interview for applicants that have done their undergraduate studies in English in other countries.
    • GRE General test. The General GRE Test is optional and applications will be reviewed even if general GRE test scores are not provided. However, any submitted general GRE test scores will be considered together with the rest of the application material. We generally encourage everyone to submit general GRE test scores. Official GRE scores are not immediately needed. An applicant can instead list self-reported scores. Such self-reported scores will however be verified later if an applicant is short-listed for admission.
    • Physics GRE Subject Test. This test not required, but GRE subject scores can be submitted if available.

International applicants to the MS program are required to provide proof of financial support in the form of a financial guarantee or letter of support before enrollment is permitted (this is not a requirement for students applying to the PhD program who, when admitted, will be support financially. This cannot be the case for MS students).

Application Deadline

The review of graduate applications for fall semester admission begins on January 15th of each year. Complete applications received before that date will receive full consideration.

Late applications received after the January 15 deadline may still be considered. When applying late, contact us directly to discuss your situation.