Admissions

Admissions is an annual process, with an application deadline of December 15.  All applications are submitted online.  The elements of the application are:

  • Statement of purpose (research interests and experience, career plans)
  • Academic transcript  (*see below for notice regarding Covid-19)
  • General and Physics GRE scores (*see below for notice regarding Covid-19)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • TOEFL results, for non-native English speakers
  • Application fee (or a request for a fee waiver — see below).
  • (Optional) A second essay to convey any relevant information not represented elsewhere in the application, such as personal experiences. Most applicants leave this blank.
  • (Optional) Any other supporting materials, such as papers-in-progress.  Most applicants leave this blank.

Please note:

  • There are no "cut-offs" on grades, GRE scores, etc. 
  • All applications will be read completely and carefully.

* Recognizing the disruption created by the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • We will assume that any decision to take a course with "pass/fail" grading in Spring 2020 was made for reasons unrelated to the student's academic ability.
  • For the 2020/21 graduate admissions cycle, submitting GRE scores is optional.

Application fee waivers:

    We do not want the application fee to be a significant barrier to applying.  Applicants may request fee waivers as follows:

    • The Graduate School accepts requests for fee waivers from U.S. applicants with financial hardship.
    • The Graduate School also accepts requests for fee waivers from any applicants who have attended one of about 40 participating programs such as the U.S. Military, QuestBridge, the National Society of Black Physicists, the National Society of Hispanic Physicists, the Peace Corps, the McNair Scholars, and the Princeton Prospective Ph.D. Preview.
    • Our Department has a limited number of fee waivers for international applicants with financial hardship, who are not covered in the previous two categories.  Requests should be sent by December 5 to fee_waiver@astro.princeton.edu along with a CV, informal grade report, and statement of purpose. 

    Pre-Doctoral Program:

    The University's Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Initiative provides qualified students an additional (sixth) year of guaranteed support and enhanced opportunities for mentoring and networking. Pre-doc students may use the extra year to take courses or work on research projects. Students from nontraditional backgrounds and under-represented groups who might benefit from the extra year are encouraged to apply.  To be considered for the Pre-Doctoral Program, simply check the appropriate box on the application, and keep in mind:

    • We will still consider your application for regular admission.
    • Checking the box can only improve your chances of being admitted, because it gives you and the Department extra resources to support your study.
    • Students admitted in the Pre-Doctoral program are fully integrated into our Ph.D. program from the moment they arrive.  It is not a bridge program; it is part of our Ph.D. program.
    • There are no additional exams or requirements specific to Pre-Doctoral students.
    • Some reasons students may have for seeking admission to the Pre-Doctoral Program are:
      • There were limited opportunities for research or rigorous physics courses at their undergraduate institution.
      • They come from a physics background and would benefit from extra time to study astronomy (or vice versa).
      • They have been out of academia for a while and would benefit from extra time to re-adjust to the academic environment. 
    • Students admitted in the Pre-Doctoral program are eligible to graduate in 5 years, progress permitting.  The extra year of support is optional.