Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Admissions and Financial Aid

  • I want you to get my official GRE or TOEFL score. What do I do?Graduate student working with laser

Colorado State University’s institution code is 4075 for both the GRE and the TOEFL. For the GRE the department code is 0808; for the TOEFL the department code is 76. Those codes, particularly the institution code, are what you need to tell the Educational Testing Service to have your official scores reported to us.

  • Is financial support available for graduate students in physics?

In general, we do not admit students without offering financial support as well. The only exceptions are students who have already arranged for third-party funding, such as government fellowships.

Financial support for first-year students usually takes the form of a teaching assistantship. This provides a stipend of approximately $1975 per month during the 9-month academic year (for 2017-2018) and includes a tuition waiver. Tuition is not deducted from your stipend, and the only money you owe the University are student fees, approximately $1200 per semester assuming a full course load (15 credits).

In some cases research assistantships are offered to incoming students, and they are generally on the same terms (except that they involve working in a research group, rather than teaching undergraduates). Teaching  and research assistantships are nominally 20 hour per week.

  • Are any fellowships offered by CSU or by your department?

The University occasionally offers graduate fellowships to exceptionally well-qualified applicants. Our graduate admissions committee will decide whom to nominate for such fellowships and will take care of all the paperwork; there is nothing you should or can do in connection with that process. If you are awarded a fellowship you will be informed as soon as possible; this is typically some time after you are notified that you were admitted to the department.

  • What is the deadline for applications? Can I apply for Spring admission?

We do not have a hard-and-fast deadline for admissions, however, the earlier the better. University fellowships typically have deadlines in February or March, so in order to be eligible for any fellowships that may be available please try to complete your application by February 1. Applications that are received too late, after we have filled out our incoming class (typically by mid-April), will rarely be considered.

Spring admission is possible in exceptional cases, but we recommend that you contact the chair of the graduate admissions committee before submitting an application. It is also possible to apply for Fall admission but defer matriculation until Spring.

  • I cannot afford the application fee, can you please waive the fee?

Do NOT pay the application fee during Step 1; the preliminary application. The fee is not required to receive department consideration for admission. The fee is only required if you are recommended for admission by the department and have been directed to complete Step 2, the official application. The application fee is something the University, not our department, requires for official applications, so we cannot waive it. Note that the fee is non-refundable.

  • Can I send my letters of recommendation to the department via mail or email?

No, letters of recommendation cannot come directly from the applicant. They must be submitted by the recommender.

  • I am not seeing a way to upload documents to my application. What should I do?

You must submit your application first. Then you should be able to upload the required documents to your application.

  • What should I include in my Personal Statement / Statement of Purpose / Cover Letter?

A Statement of Purpose should provide information, not available in any other form, that will assist the Department in evaluating your application. If you have relevant employment, research, or teaching experiences, tell us about them. Let us know about your career plans, what areas of physics you are interested in studying, why you’re applying to Colorado State. Let us hear your voice.

  • I did not major in Physics. Am I eligible for admission to your department?

We do not require an undergraduate (or M.S.) degree in Physics for admission, but students holding other degrees should anticipate extra time in coursework.

  • I have a three-year undergraduate degree. Am I eligible for admission to your department?

The Graduate School, not our department, decides how degrees from other countries are treated for the purposes of graduate admissions. In most cases, foreign undergraduate degrees are treated as the equivalent of U.S. Bachelor’s degrees, and likewise for Master’s degrees.

However, there are a few exceptions, which are due to the fact that U.S. undergraduate programs are nominally four-year courses of study. In particular, three-year undergraduate degrees from India are presently not considered equivalent to U.S. Bachelor’s degrees, and we cannot admit students holding such degrees into our graduate program: either a four-year Bachelor’s or a five-year Master’s degree from India is required. Some three-year undergraduate degrees (such as those from the U.K.) are treated as equivalent to U.S. Bachelor’s. If you have any questions please contact us for clarification.

  • I submitted an application. Have you received it? When will you come to a decision?

If we have received your completed preliminary application you should receive an acknowledgment through e-mail; note that this may take several weeks. If several weeks have passed and you have not heard from us, then please send an email to the graduate admissions chair and someone will respond to your inquiry.

The second question is trickier. We offer admissions on a “rolling” basis. What this means is that at any given meeting of the graduate admissions committee, we consider all complete applications that are on file and decide to accept, decline, or defer the application. The decision depends on many factors, not just the quality of an individual application, but also the number of students that have already accepted our offers of admission, the number that have received offers from us but have not yet made up their minds, the number of applications received, the time of year, the number of teaching assistantships we expect will be available, and so forth.

  • I’m interested in visiting the department, what should I do?

We’re always delighted to welcome visitors, please contact the graduate admissions chair, if you would like to make any arrangements in advance to meet with the faculty and students here.

We feel that it is difficult to make an informed choice of graduate program without actually visiting the departments under consideration. Consequently, if you are offered admission and if you reside in the continental US, you may be offered an expenses-paid trip to Fort Collins.

  • I have received an offer of admission from University X and have still not heard definite word on my application to Colorado State. What should I do?

In this case (and in many others of similar character) the best thing you can do is to inform us promptly. In particular, contact the chair of graduate admissions. It may be possible to come to an accelerated decision, to make a competing offer, and so forth, but only if we know about your situation.

  • I’ve been admitted to Colorado State in the Fall, but I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do there in the summer, before classes start?

Research appointments during the summer prior to enrollment are common. They offer an excellent opportunity to settle into Fort Collins and our department prior to the always-hectic beginning of the Fall semester.

If there is a particular research group you would like to work with you could contact the relevant faculty member directly and inquire; if you’re just interested in finding out what might be available, contact the chair of graduate admissions.