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Graduate Program Application Instructions


July 2019

  1. Complete the MSU Graduate Application at
    • Follow the instructions, and be sure to write down your six-digit application ID and password.
    • For major preference, list either: (3838: PhD in Physics) or (3924 PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics, see Astronomy web page). Typically, we do not admit students into the terminal masters degree programs.  In addition financial support will not be guaranteed for the terminal MS degree.  If you are seeking admission to our department (with support) please consider the PhD program (codes listed above).
    • For first semester to enroll, pick Fall (we do not process admission for spring or summer semesters). Unless you would be coming with your own funding, list ”Require Assistantship” where the form asks you for proof of financial resources. We generally provide support to all Ph.D. students we accept, usually in the form of a teaching assistantship. All students will be considered for special recruiting fellowships regardless of what they enter here. Consideration for recruiting fellowships is also not contingent on whether you designate an interest in financial aid.
    • Personal Statement: Please address the following topics in your personal statement: 1) leadership potential; 2) contribution to a diverse educational community; 3) record of overcoming obstacles. For example, if you would be the first in your family to graduate college, or have had to pay or work your own way through school.   Also, please list any activities or experiences that might reflect on your character.
    • Academic Statement: Be sure to list/address the following:
      a) What subfield(s) do you want to study? (e.g., condensed matter, high-energy, physics education, nuclear, biophysics) and do you wish to pursue theoretical or experimental research. The more detail, the better.
      b) What is your research experience? Be sure to note what amount of time was invested on each project. (e.g., worked full-time during Summer of 2019...).
      c) List any publications, talks, or posters given in any professional scientific meetings.
    • For both the Personal and Academic statements it is highly recommended that you upload .pdf files instead of using the provided text boxes, as it tends to compromise the formatting. 
    • List all institutions of higher education you have attended. Be sure to click the ”save” or ”submit” buttons at the top of the page.
    • Ignore the request to send reference letters or request information from the Department. Instead, you will register the names and contact information of your references into the electronic system at See below.
  2. Go to and log on using your applicant ID and password that you gave for the MSU application. On the control panel page you will find a link for registering your references. We strongly prefer to have letters submitted through the on-line system.
  3. At this site you can also upload any additional documentation you might like considered for your application. For example, if you are having trouble getting either transcripts or GRE scores forwarded on time, you can upload unofficial copies here.
  4. Have GRE scores sent to MSU. The Institution Code is 1465 and the Department Code is 0808 for Physics and 0801 for Astronomy. In addition to the general exam, the GRE Physics Subject Exam is required for the Physics PhD degree, but is optional for the Astronomy PhD degree.
  5. International students are required to take the TOEFL exam. The iBT (internet-based test) is preferred, as it contains a speaking test. Graduate school English Language requirements can be found at this webpage. However, the Department of Physics and Astronomy requires higher scores than the University.  For example, we suggest a total average score of 100 or better on the iBT, but may accept slightly lower scores for exceptional cases.  TOEFL the Institution Code is 1465, and the Department Codes are 76 for Physics and 61 for Astronomy.  ONLY if you have a 4 year degree from a US Institution will the TOEFL be waived, 2 year MS degree do not satisfy the English Language requirement set forth by the University or the department.
  6. To be officially admitted to Michigan State University you are required to send official transcripts, in unopened envelopes, directly from your college or university.  However, for the department to make its admissions decisions you may upload unofficial transcripts to for review.  We do not require official transcripts at time of application.
  7. If possible, please arrange for your College or University to send your Official Transcripts electronically to Kim Crosslan (  If this is not possible they should be mailed directly to the Department. The address is:

Dept. of Physics and Astronomy
Michigan State University
Attn: Mrs. Kim Crosslan
567 Wilson Road, Room 1312
East Lansing, MI 48824 USA

If you have fewer lines in your form, you can try:

Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, M.S.U.
Attn: mrs.Kim Crosslan
567 Wilson Road, Room 1312
East Lansing, MI 48824 USA


If you have ANY questions, please don’t hesitate to contact:

Kirsten Tollefson
Assoc. Chair and Director of Graduate Studies

or for procedural questions about applying:

Kim Crosslan
Graduate Secretary