The program of graduate education in Applied Physics at Stanford University is designed to prepare students for professional leadership careers in science and technology. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of applied physics, the Department welcomes applications both from individuals who majored in physics and from those who have a strong interest in physics but may have majored in related disciplines, e.g., electrical, mechanical or chemical engineering, materials science, biophysics, chemistry, or mathematics. However, in some cases, these students may find it necessary to spend additional time acquiring the background to meet the requirements for advanced degrees in Applied Physics. A similar situation pertains to physics undergraduates who have been out of school for a substantial period of time.

Stanford University operates on an academic year that consists of autumn, winter, spring, and summer quarters. With very rare exceptions, graduate students are admitted only at the beginning of the autumn quarter, and applications for admission and financial aid must be completed by the first week of the preceding January (the specific date is determined on an annual basis). The Department’s Admissions Committee reviews applications during the period of January through mid-March and notifies applicants of the admissions decision by March 15 at the latest. Note that students are admitted to the Department as a whole, not directly to specific research groups. The Department of Applied Physics encourages students from all underrepresented groups to apply.

The selection of students admitted to the Department of Applied Physics is based on the student’s academic record (particularly in the sciences) and research experience, the letters of recommendation,, the scores on the Graduate Record Examination (verbal, quantitative, analytical, and physics advanced test) and TOEFL if appropriate, and the statement of purpose. The advanced test must be taken in the physics subject area and is required only for PhD applicants. We typically receive over 200 applications per year, with approximately 20 students entering the PhD program each year.

Deadline for applying for 2016-17 admission: December 15, 2015. We admit for the autumn quarter only.

Financial Assistance

It is the Department’s intent to provide financial support to all students admitted to the PhD Program who are in need of funding. Most entering PhD students hold a rotating research assistantship during their first three quarters. After discussion with faculty members both from within the Applied Physics Department as well as from any other science or engineering department at Stanford when the student first arrives, an assistantship for the first quarter is mutually agreed upon. An assistantship with a different faculty member can be arranged similarly at the beginning of each of the two subsequent quarters, if desired. The purpose of the rotating research assistantship plan is to acquaint students with research opportunities and with the faculty during the first year prior to the final selection of a PhD research group. Many students elect to remain with the first or second research rotation group, leading ultimately to a research project and their PhD dissertation. As students’ interests develop, they have the option at any time of changing research programs, depending upon mutual agreement between the student and his/her research advisor. Arrangements for summer research positions are made by the student with his/her research advisor.

Admissions Staff

Claire K. Nicholas ( / 650-723-4028) & Paula P. Perron ( / 650-723-4027)

Required Admissions Materials

  • Completed on-line application form
  • Application fee. Payment by credit card (Visa or MasterCard only).
  • Two original transcripts from each of the previous institutions of higher learning attended.  For colleges and/or universities that are able to send Certified Electronic Transcripts (E-Transcripts), ask your Records/Registrar’s Office to e-mail the transcripts to
  • Three letters of recommendation – must be submitted using the online service.  Letters cannot be e-mailed or faxed, per University policy, unless an exception has been made by the Applied Physics Graduate Admissions Committee.
  • Statement of purpose
  • GRE (verbal, quantitative, analytical, and subject).  Use Code 4704 for the Institutional Code.  A Department Code is not needed.  PhD applications will be considered only if regular and subject (Physics) GRE scores are available.  Subject GRE is not required for the MS degree application.
  • TOEFL (required by the University of all international applicants). Refer to the Graduate Admissions Office Website for details.

NOTE: All supporting documents should be sent directly to the Department of Applied Physics at the following address. Due December 15, 2015.

Department of Applied Physics, Rooms 116-118
348 Via Pueblo
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-4090

To obtain admissions information and to apply online:

Website: Office of Graduate Admissions
Phone: 866-432-7472
Fax: 650-723-8371
Address: Office of the Registrar
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-6032

An applicant can apply to only one department at a time.