AAPT.org - American Association of Physics Teachers

Planning for Graduate Studies in Physics and Related Fields

Timetable Example

Junior year

Begin or continue discussions with faculty about graduate studies and focus on summer internships and research opportunities on and off campus.

From November through mid-January, collect and complete applications for programs of interest. Follow up with these and other opportunities to secure a summer appointment.

Draft your own timetable for the applications-related tasks for the
summer and following academic year. (See below.)

Summer between junior and senior year

Decide when you will take the GRE and complete online applications
for fall testing dates. Obtain practice exams.

Become familiar with the online resources for graduate study and
national fellowships, and start building your list of bookmarks and
e-mail folders.

Fall semester

Collect information on graduate programs of particular interest, both from online resources and by talking with faculty and recent graduates. Set a target (e.g., mid-November) for having all applications materials in hand.

Review for the GRE. Take the GRE Subject Test no later than the December offering. Have scores sent to candidate schools.

Complete applications and forms for your references and meet with each of them before the end of the academic term. Request that your college transcript be sent to schools to which you are applying. Send completed applications by deadlines, some of which may arrive before Christmas.

Spring semester

Watch for confirmations that your application materials have been received.

Follow up on any missing materials, such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and GRE scores. Contact any schools that you have not heard from to be sure that your file is coming together properly.

Make preliminary plans to visit the most likely schools on your list. As acceptances and rejections come in, make arrangements as necessary. Keep your academic advisor informed of responses from schools, as well as your impressions from your visits.

Final decision, mid-April. There are still many openings at good schools
after this artificial deadline, so if you are not happy with your choices,
start checking around and enlist the help of your advisor in making calls.