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Physics Frequently Asked Questions

Please review the questions and answers carefully before contacting our office.


Must I have a degree in physics in order to apply to this graduate program?

Usually applicants have a BS in physics, or the equivalent. Strong undergraduate preparation in the core areas of physics (classical mechanics, electromagnetism, statistical physics and quantum mechanics) is a prerequisite. Experience and interest in doing research is also highly valued, although we understand that not all undergraduate institutions offer such opportunities. It is important that the research interests of the applicant are well matched by the research areas of our faculty.

What are the requirements to complete a PhD?

Doctoral candidates are required to take a minimum of 45 credits of coursework and research work beyond the master's requirement of 45 credits (minimum of 3.0 GPA). PhD candidates must pass a candidacy examination, written and oral; satisfy a one-year residence; and complete and defend an original research thesis. PhD students begin research early in the program, commencing thesis work in their second year of study.

How many years does it take to complete the PhD requirements?

We expect that most students can complete the PhD in five years.

Is there a fixed period of financial support?

We have always been able to support students who enter with Drexel support or external fellowships, throughout their program, provided that their progress is satisfactory.

How many applications are submitted each year and how many students are accepted?

Although the number varies each year, the Department of Physics usually receives approximately 150 applications. The number of students in the incoming class for the last few years has averaged between 8-10.

What are the minimum GRE and TOEFL scores for admitted applicants?

Successful applicants always have GRE scores above 450 Verbal and 650 Quantitative (the average is much higher than this). TOEFL scores of successful foreign applicants are usually close to 600 (PBT), 250 (CBPT), 100 (IBT) or higher. The speaking and listening parts of the test are particularly important.

What factors are considered in the application review process?

The main factors that are reviewed in the application process are GRE scores (both general and physics subject scores), transcripts of grades at previous institutions (particularly in physics courses) and letters of recommendation. In addition, any past research experiences are extremely helpful, particularly if they are in the area(s) of the applicant's interest(s).

How can I arrange a visit to the Department of Physics?

If you will be visiting the Philadelphia area, you are welcome to visit the Department of Physics. You are encouraged to contact the Director of Graduate Studies, research labs and/or contact individual faculty directly to inquire about their availability during your visit.

When is the deadline for applying to the PhD program in physics?

The deadline for receipt of all application materials is January 1 to be considered for admission for PhD study with assistantship support.

Where do I send any supporting materials for my application?

Include your student identification number, intended program of study, or date of birth on all correspondence with the University. It will be easier for the admission staff to quickly match your application materials with your file if this information is included. Do not send any supporting material directly to the Department of Physics. For more information regarding applications, please contact

Mailing Addresses:
Domestic Mail
Drexel University
Application Processing
PO Box 34789
Philadelphia, PA 19101

International Mail
Drexel University
Application Processing
3141 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-2876, USA

My GRE/TOEFL test scores will not be reported before the application deadline; can I still apply?

Applications will not be considered complete and will not be reviewed until all materials have been received.

Does the Department of Physics provide TOEFL score waivers?

The TOEFL exam is required of all applicants who were born in a country where English is not the primary language. Exceptions to this policy will be considered for candidates who received their undergraduate degree at a U.S. college or university. In these cases, candidates are asked to provide a letter from a faculty member attesting to their English proficiency.

Can I receive an update on the status of my application?

You will receive an e-mail from the Admissions Office acknowledging receipt and status of your application. If your application is incomplete, a second e-mail will be sent only when all missing items have been received. Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applications that are received, no additional e-mails will be sent during the review process.

When will I be notified of a final decision?

First round offers of PhD admission will be made between the middle of February and the end of March. Further offers will be made to applicants on the waiting list until the class is filled. MS applications are reviewed on a rolling basis through August.


Do I need a Drexel email account?

As a new student, you must immediately establish your Drexel University email account. Email is the primary mode of communication within the University. Please access to activate your account. It is mandatory that all students maintain an active Drexel University email address so we can effectively communicate with you.

When should I register?

Registration (via DrexelOne) usually begins during weeks six through nine for the following term. For more information please visit the Student Resource Center Registration page

What is a CRN?

CRN is an acronym for "course registration number" used when registering for a particular course.

Where can I find a description of each course?

How can I get a Drexel identification card?

The DragonCard is your University identification card. Students should obtain a DragonCard prior to the start of classes. To receive your DragonCard, take a current class schedule and valid photo ID to the DragonCard Office (Creese Student Center).