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Department of Physics

Overview of the Admissions Process


Detailed instructions are given in these pages for completing the application.   Complete applications will receive highest priority in the selection process.  Partially complete applications will be reviewed at the discretion of the Selection Committee.  Applicants with only a partial application, however, will generally be at a disadvantage compared to those with a complete application.


We will generally begin reviewing the applications immediately following the deadline and start making offers in the late January-February timeframe.  It is very unusual for us to accept students to begin in the spring semester, and we prefer not to.  In an average year, we receive roughly 100 applications, make 20-30 offers, and enroll 12-15 students.  We try, of course, to select the best students that we can while maintaining some balance in the makeup of our graduate student body.  As you can imagine, comparing the applications of students from around the world is a difficult task since every country, sometimes every school, uses a slightly different system, has different standards, etc.  Further, we can only make our decision based on what is sent to us in the application.   So, to give yourself the best chance of acceptance, make sure your application is complete.  We are happy to help you prepare the best application you can, so contact us (graduate@phys.ksu.edu) with any questions.


If we make an offer to you, it means we believe that you can succeed in our program.  You will be sent an offer letter by email.  The offer letter details the financial package we're offering and generally what you can expect from us.  With very few exceptions, we will offer you full financial support.  It also gives information about what we expect from you in terms of teaching, classwork, and research.  The letter also provides some information about our research groups and practical matters like housing.  We appreciate hearing your decision as soon as you have made it, but will keep the offer open until the nationally agreed upon deadline of April 15.  Once you have accepted, consider taking the Virtual Orientation — it has a lot of useful information, especially the checklist for newly admitted students.

K-State Graduate Career

At the beginning of the fall semester, all incoming students will take a placement exam to help us advise them on which courses are appropriate.  For a variety of reasons, a student may not have a strong background in a particular subject, making it more difficult to succeed in the graduate course.  In these cases, we recommend taking the corresponding upper level undergraduate course.  Students given this opportunity usually end up doing very well in their later studies.

The pattern of a graduate career here at K-State is much the same as at any U.S. university.  Your first year will be busy with classes, teaching, and trying to identify a research group whose work interests you and has a position open.  You would then join this group starting that first summer after spring semester finishes.  Many groups and students regard this as a trial period to see if the student-research group match is a good one.  In most cases, it is, and you would stay with that group until the completion of your Ph.D.  You would typically finish the core course requirements after two years, but might take a topical course here or there later in your career here.  Your career would be capped, of course, by the defense of your Ph.D. after roughly 5-6 years of study and research.  Nearly all of our students are then able to find a position in their physics sector of choice, whether academia or industry.