Updated: November 8, 2023

Thank you for your interest in the graduate program in physics at Case
Western Reserve University. Below please find some general information
that we relay to potential applicants who have expressed interest in
our Ph.D. graduate program in physics. We believe the points covered in
this email will address most email questions we get from interested
students.  If you have further questions please do not hesitate to
contact me, Corbin Covault, Chair, Department of Physics, at
this email address: phys-grad-program@case.edu


To be considered for admission into the CWRU Ph.D.
and/or MS program please apply to the CWRU School of Graduate Studies:
(SGS).  You must apply online.  See https://applygrad.case.edu/apply/.


Application Requirements: There are two essential eligibility
requirements for application to the Ph.D. program in physics at CWRU

— Applicants MUST have (or should expect to soon receive) a
Bachelor’s degree in Physics or a Closely Related Field.

— Applicants MUST have an average academic record GPA corresponding
to a B average or better (3.0 out of 4.0) or better.

Important:  CWRU Physics neither requires nor recommends that applicants submit GRE scores. This applies to both the general GRE and the physics subject test GRE.  We do not use any GRE scores to evaluate applicants.  Please ignore any material in any CWRU application form that may ask for and/or suggest that GRE scores are required.


Note that a “Closely Related Field” means closely related. Examples of
closely related fields include astronomy and astrophysics,
mathematical physics, applied physics, and engineering physics.
Students with undergraduate degrees in other areas of science,
engineering and/or mathematics would only be eligible if they applied
also with substantial preparatory coursework in the standard upper level
undergraduate physics subjects such as (1) Quantum mechanics, (2)
Electricity and magnetism, (3) statistical mechanics and
thermodynamics, and (4) upper-level classical mechanics.  Students who
do not already have the “functional equivalent” of an undergraduate
degree in physics with upper-level coursework in all four areas are
not likely to be considered for our graduate program.

All applicants MUST arrange to have three letters of recommendation
submitted via the online application system.  Until and unless we
receive three letters, we cannot consider or process your application.

In terms of academic records, we need to see all of your undergraduate
transcripts and any graduate transcripts.  We need to see everything.
See more below on transcripts.

For international applicants who have learned English as a second
language, scores for one of IELTS, TOEFL or PTE MUST be submitted.
The minimum IELTS score for admission consideration is 7.0. The
minimum TOEFL score is 90, if internet-based (iBT) and 577 if
paper-based.  The minimum score for PTE is 61.

Note that there is unfortunately currently NO MECHANISM for accepting
any student directly into the physics program who does not meet
minimum IELTS/TOEFL/PTE scores boundaries as indicated.  No official
admissions offer for any graduate position will be made until and
unless we received official documentation verifying a passing score on
IELTS, TOEFL or PTE.  There is no flexibility on this point.

Institution Code: Please ask ETS to send TOEFL scores via Institution
Code 1105.  Do NOT use a “department code.”  There is no “Inquiry
Code” required for Physics.

Update October 2022: All international applicants must supply a
language score unless they have completed a degree at an institution where the instruction is given exclusively in English. You may be able to petition to waive requirements for English proficiency exam results such as TOEFL and/or IELTS.  However, requests for such waivers will only be considered after conditional
acceptance into the graduate program.  If you have English proficiency
based on exclusively English-only education please make this clear in
your application statement and submit your application. In this case,
any offers of admission will be conditional only, based on future
verification of your English-only education.  Please note that it is
the CWRU School of Graduate Studies (SGS) and not the Department of
Physics that has authority and responsibility for assessing and
approving petitions to waive English proficiency tests.


NO official transcripts are required by SGS until after admission and then they should be mailed to Grad Studies – not the physics department.


Unofficial copies need to go through the application system and should not be directly sent to the physics department.  SGS does not require official documents for admission.  Only after admission, and if the applicant decides to come, will official documents be requested.


Please note:  For Fall 2024 applications, there is no application fee to apply to the CWRU Physics graduate program. The fee will be automatically waived for all applicants.  Please ignore any materials or instructions that ask you to pay a fee.  The fee is effectively zero dollars for all applicants.   No fee.  Zero dollars.  Please do not submit or pay any fee. 


— Important:  CWRU Physics neither requires nor recommends that applicants submit GRE scores. This applies to both the general GRE and the physics subject test GRE.  We do not use any GRE scores to evaluate applicants.  Please ignore any material in any CWRU application form that may ask for and/or suggest that GRE scores are required.



Concerns Regarding Completeness of Applications: The CWRU School of
Graduate Studies (SGS) provides an online mechanism for applicants to
check the status of their application.  However, updates to this
status are NOT fully automated and may not reflect materials already
received directly.  All materials should go through the application system.  In
particular, the Physics Department does not comprehensively review
application portfolios for completeness before the January 5th deadline
(as we are waiting for letters to come in, for example). Based on past
experience, it may take two or three weeks beyond the date of
materials for the SGS online status report to show that an applicant’s
materials are complete.

Applicants should rest assured that we check applications for
completeness and if important items are found missing, the applicant
will be notified personally and directly by the department.  This
means that if you have not heard from our department regarding any
missing items, you can very likely safely assume that your
application is complete and that no further action is needed. If
something is missing that we need, we will contact you generally by
email. For applicants who have some specific concerns regarding the
late and/or missing arrival of materials, particularly regarding
letters, exam scores and/or transcripts, they can contact Valerie Price
by email: valerie.price@case.edu.


Prospective applicants sometimes write emails to me and/or our
department to ask if admission is likely prior based on grades, exam
scores, research experience, CVs, etc.  Unfortunately, we cannot
predict how likely any given student’s applicant is to receive an
offer of admission before we receive a complete application.  At CWRU,
we consider each and every application in detail on a case-by-case
basis.  Our program is selective, but outside of the minimum
application requirements indicated above, there are no “cut-offs” for
grades or test scores that correspond either to automatic rejection
and/or automatic acceptance into our graduate program.  In particular,
strong letters of recommendation, personal application statements, and
potential promise in research are all considered carefully for each
admission decision, along with grades, test scores, and all-around
academic performance.  Therefore, the CWRU Physics Department
warmly encourages all potential applicants who have a serious interest
in our program to apply.  Again, we remind you: for international
students, there is no application fee.  The best way to find out if you
are likely to be admitted is to simply apply.


Please note that as a rule, ALL offers of admission to our Ph.D. graduate
program in physics will include at least one year of full support that includes
stipend, health insurance, and tuition, which is associated with either a Teaching
Assistantship (TA) or (on rare occasions) a Research Assistantship (RA)
assignment.  CWRU Physics does NOT admit students into our Ph.D. program
without also offering financial support for stipend and tuition.  Also,
we do NOT admit students into our Ph.D. program unless we believe that
the student has good prospects for success in our graduate program with a
likelihood of continued support as an RA or TA beyond the first year.
Students who have third-party fellowship and/or home country
fellowship support are also encouraged to apply.  In a nutshell, if
you are admitted to our Ph.D. program, you will arrive with financial
support and we never admit anyone in the Ph.D. program without also
offering financial support.

We also encourage students to consider applying to our Master’s
Program (MS, Physics). The master’s program is a 30 credit hour
degree program that can be completed in less than two years and
includes fundamentals of graduate coursework and opportunities for
research. However, the physics department generally offers no financial
support for students in our Master’s program — no stipend, no tuition
support. This means that students applying to our master’s program
should have the resources to cover tuition costs and costs of living
for at least three semesters. Admission standards for the master’s
program are similar to those for the Ph.D. — but less rigorous.  The
master’s degree program is designed to be completed within three
semesters.  Students applying to our master’s program are especially
encouraged to describe how a master’s degree would benefit their
overall academic and career plans in their personal statements.


Research Specialties: Applicants are in particular encouraged to
explore the research program described on the CWRU website and
reflect in their application on potential overlap between their own
likely research interests and those of faculty groups in the
department.  See:


Students are in particular encouraged to indicate areas of potential
research interests within their application statements.  The “Personal
Statement” is the place to describe both your background in research
and your interests for future research at CWRU. If a student is
interested in more than one area this should be clearly indicated.  If
a student is especially interested in a single area, this should also
be indicated. Students should also clearly state whether they are
interested in experimental work, theoretical work, or possibly
either/both.  If the student is particularly and/or potentially
interested in working with any one or more specific faculty,
mentioning these faculty could be helpful as well.


Deadlines and Late Applications: The deadline for receipt of all
materials including letters of recommendation is January 5, 2024, for
admission to the program starting Fall 2024.  Applicants who submit
materials by this date will receive full consideration.  However, our
admission process is ongoing during the several weeks following this
deadline.  Therefore, we encourage students who are interested in CWRU
to apply to our program even if some materials will arrive after the
January 5th deadline.  Late arriving applications will be considered as
time and space permits.

Applicants are unable to submit an application after the January 5th cut-off date.

Note that we generally do NOT consider applications for students
applying to our graduate programs for admission in the Spring

Hopefully, these points address any questions or concerns you may have.
Please do not hesitate to contact me directly at phys-grad-program@case.edu
if you have further questions or concerns.  We look forward to receiving and
reviewing your applications.


Corbin Covault
Physics Department, CWRU
Phone: 216-368-4006

Online Resources:

Physics Department Graduate Program:


Physics Department Online Application:


CWRU Physics Department Listing at AIP Physics Grad School Shopper


CWRU School of Graduate Studies Information for Prospective Students:


CWRU Physics Graduate Student Association Information Page