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Graduate Program Application Instructions

Updated September 2020

Please read the following instructions carefully to make sure you submit a complete and strong application.

  1. Complete the MSU Graduate Application at http://grad.msu.edu/apply.
    • 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). We do not admit students into the terminal masters degree programs.  Financial support will not be guaranteed for the terminal MS degree.  If you are seeking admission to our department (with support) please apply to the PhD program (codes listed above).
    • For first semester to enroll, pick Fall. We do not process admission for spring or summer semesters even though some student start some research work prior to first classes in Fall.
    • 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 or research 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. For your application to be considered for recruiting fellowships, please submit you application by December 15, 2020. 
    • Personal Statement: Please try to address the following topics in your personal statement:
      • Leadership experiences and/or potential: experiences could be academic, community-focused, professional, or otherwise and demonstrate your potential for distinctive professional or scholarly contributions
      • Contributions to a diverse (educational) community: these could relate to your personal history and experiences, research goals, and/or the promotion of understanding among persons of different backgrounds and ideas
      • Record of overcoming obstacles: these could be social, economic, personal. Examples include being the first person in your family to attend college and graduate school. or overcoming financial, personal, or other hurdles to pursue your education  
    • Academic Statement: Be sure to list/address the following:
      • What subfield(s) do you wish to focus on in graduate school, such as condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, high-energy physics, physics education research, biophysics, astrophysics, astronomy? Are you interested in theoretical research or experimental research, or both?
      • How are your research interest related to opportunities in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at MSU? Which research groups are you interested in working in? Be specific, but do not limit yourself to the research group of one faculty member. You want to show you have really thought about this, but not constrain yourself to one group which might not have many openings in a given year.
      • What are you research experiences? Included duration and type (e.g. REU) of experience and include products (a paper, presentations/posters, report etc). How have these experiences shaped your decision to apply to MSU? If you do not have many research experiences, explain what has shaped your decision to apply to MSU and perhaps why it was hard to perform research.
      • What is your overall academic record? Since you will submit your transcripts, you do not have to give detailed information about grades and GPA, but you can certainly highlight specific accomplishments (awards, prizes, fellowships) or explanations of your academic record.
         
    • 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 beaspartan.com. See below.
  2. Go to http://www.beaspartan.com 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. Due to COVID-19 and the reduced opportunities to take the GRE (general and subject) exams, the submission of GRE scores for the application process for the physics graduate program is optional for applications in 2020

  5. Due to COVID-19, MSU is accepting Duolingo tests as a way for applicants to demonstrate English language proficiency if the applicants are unable to take our standardly accepted tests such as TOEFL and IELTS (see item 6). For this reason, lack of ability to take tests will not be accepted as a key reason for requesting an English language proficiency waiver unless the applicant is able to demonstrate they cannot take the Duolingo test.
  6. 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.  For TOEFL, Institution Code is 1465, and the Department Codes are 76 for Physics and 61 for Astronomy.  It is possible to request a waiver for the language test, but they must be submitted through the department, not by the student. For details, check here. 
  7. For the department to make its admissions decisions you may upload unofficial transcripts to www.beaspartan.com for review.  We do not require official transcripts at time of application, however, once you are accepted to Michigan State University, you are required to send official transcripts, in unopened envelopes, directly from your college or university to be fully admitted.
  8. If possible, please arrange for your College or University to send your Official Transcripts electronically to Kim Crosslan (crossla3@msu.edu).  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:

Remco Zegers
Assoc. Chair and Director of Graduate Studies
zegers@msu.edu
+1-517-908-7473

or for procedural questions about applying:

Kim Crosslan
Graduate Secretary
crossla3@msu.edu
+1-517-884-5531