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Northwestern University Course/Program Name
Application closes on
National :31 Dec 
International :31 Dec 

PhD Physics and Astronomy

 Course Level
Full Time

5 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

4052 USD
4052 USD

Application fee

International 95 USD
National 95 USD
Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7
TOEFL-IBT (min)90
TOEFL-PBT (min)577
GRE (avg)313

World University Ranking

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About this course

Our department conducts research in several areas, including astrophysics, atomic and optical physics, biophysics, complex systems, condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, and particle physics. Students entering our graduate program can often begin their research before the Fall quarter of their first year by joining a research group at or shortly after the time they are admitted. With rare exceptions, all first-year students are supported by 12-month Fellowships which give them great flexibility in choosing their research specialilty. Our department is particularly strong in multi-disciplinary research, with joint faculty in Materials Science, Chemistry, and Electrical Engineering, and strong ties to both Argonne National Laboratory and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

Note: fees is per quarter

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Eligibility Criteria

  • Results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  • Official Results of the advanced GRE in physics. For both the standard and advanced GRE exams, we will accept the results of exams taken before December 31 even if we do not receive the scores until after December 31.
  • For non-native English-speaking students, official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). For students submitting a TOEFL score, a minimum score of 577 (paper test), or 233 (computer test), or 90 (Internet-based test) is required for admission to Northwestern. For students submitting an IELTS score, a minimum score of 7.0 is required. The department does grant some leeway on TOEFL and IELTS scores for exceptional students.

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Course Modules

Course requirements
PhD students in Physics and Astronomy must pass the following core courses or demonstrate that they have passed equivalent courses elsewhere:

  • One quarter of classical mechanics (Physics 411-0)
  • Three quarters of quantum mechanics (Physics 412-1,2,3)
  • Two quarters of classical electrodynamics (Physics 414-1,2)
  • One quarter of statistical mechanics (Physics 416-0)

Normally, students who wish to have core courses waived must first pass the corresponding section(s) of the PhD qualifying examinations.

Research and the thesis
We encourage students to become engaged in research as early as possible in their studies. Incoming students on Fellowship support are especially encouraged to begin part-time research in their first year. To acquaint themselves with the research opportunities in the department, most new students work with one of the faculty during the summer of their first year of graduate study. (However, there is no requirement to do so.) Students may choose a thesis adviser and/or topic at any point in their first two years.

A proposed thesis topic must be defended before a faculty committee no later than by the end of the student's fourth year at Northwestern. The thesis itself must be defended before a panel of three faculty by no later than the end of the student's ninth year at Northwestern. Successful completion of this examination is the final requirement of the PhD program.

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How to Apply

  • At least two letters of recommendation from professors familiar with your work. Letters of recommendation are very important, choose your recommenders wisely. The Graduate School's admission committees are interested in recommendation letters from those who are most able to assess your academic and research abilities in areas related to your field of study. Letters of recommendation must be submitted online. When you enter your recommender's contact information on the on-line application form, an email is immediately sent to your recommender with instructions. It is your responsibility to ensure that we receive all letters by December 31.
  • Official transcripts of work completed or in progress at all colleges or universities attended. While completing the on-line application form, you will be required to submit one scanned copy of your transcript from each school you have attended and upload the scan copy via ApplyYourself.

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