Application Information

The Physical Sciences Division offers nine PhD programs and five MS programs. We enroll over 900 graduate students from over 50 countries. Our undergraduates enroll through the College. To learn more about curricula, faculty research, and admissions criteria, visit the program website in the area of your research interests.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Some degree programs in the Physical Sciences Division require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. It is recommended that you take the test well in advance of your program's application deadline if you plan to submit scores. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) institutional code for the University of Chicago is 1832.

GRE scores are valid only if the exam was taken within five years prior to the application deadline. No program in the Physical Sciences Division requires a minimum GRE score for admission. Applicants should self-report their GRE scores in the application so that their dossiers may be reviewed while the official scores are en route.

GRE Requirements by Program:

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics (PhD): GRE General Test and one subject test are encouraged, but not required
  • Biophysical Sciences (PhD): Reporting both general and subject GRE test scores is optional for the BPHYS PhD program.  Biophysical Sciences has no preference regarding which subject tests (if any) are taken. 
  • Chemistry (PhD): GRE General Test and Chemistry subject test
  • Computational and Applied Mathematics (MS):  GRE General Test is required
  • Computational and Applied Mathematics (PhD):  GRE General Test is required; subject test is strongly recommended
  • Computer Science (PhD): GRE General Test is required; one subject test is strongly encouraged
  • Geophysical Sciences (PhD): GRE General Test is required; subject test is optional
  • Mathematics (PhD): GRE General Test and Mathematics subject test
  • Physics (PhD): GRE General Test and Physics subject test
  • Statistics (PhD, MS, and MS/PhD): GRE General Test is required; Mathematics subject test is strongly encouraged for PhD and MS/PhD applicants.
  • Masters Program in Computer Science (MS): GRE General Test is required
  • Financial Math (MS): GRE General Test is required; Mathematics subject test strongly encouraged
  • Physical Sciences (MS): GRE General Test and subject test scores are not required, but applicants are encouraged to submit scores if they are available

English Language Proficiency

Applicants whose first or native language is not English must demonstrate an adequate command of both spoken and written English, and they are required to submit English proficiency test scores as part of their application. We recognize the internet-based test (iBT) of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Applicants whose total score on the four-part TOEFL falls below 90 (or IELTS falls below 7) will not normally be admitted unless other demonstrable evidence of proficiency in English is available, with the following exceptions:

  • Biophysical Sciences: The minimum required score on the TOEFL is 104.
  • Geophysical Sciences The minimum required score on the TOEFL is 22 in each section with a 95 overall.

The minimum required IELTS score is 7 in each section and a 7 overall.

If you are taking the TOEFL, request the scores to be sent to the University of Chicago; the University of Chicago institutional code for ETS is 1832.
If you are taking the IELTS, you should request the scores be sent electronically to the University of Chicago.

Applicants should self-report their TOEFL or IELTS scores in the application so that their dossiers may be reviewed while the official scores are en route. TOEFL or IELTS score reports are valid for two years and scores will be considered expired if the test was taken more than two years prior to submission of the application.

Language Requirement Waivers

The English language requirement may be waived if the applicant is a native of or studied in full-time status for at least one academic year within the last five years in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or English medium universities in Canada or South Africa. Students who studied in English in other countries, for example, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc., are not exempt from the English language requirement.

For frequently asked questions about the TOEFL and IELTS, please visit the Office of International Affairs website.

Application Fee Waivers

Your application fee will be waived if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are a University of Chicago student or alumnus.
  • You are a Fulbright Scholar.
  • You are currently serving in or are a veteran of the U.S. Military.
  • You have successfully completed and submitted a BTAA Free App request.
  • You have participated in one of the following programs:  AmeriCorps/Vista, Gates Millennium Scholars, National GEM Consortium, Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers, Leadership Alliance, McNair Scholars, Mellon Mays, Peace Corps, Project 1000, Teach for America.

If you meet one of the above criteria, check the appropriate box in the application and provide documentation when/if required.

The Physical Sciences Division provides fee waivers for applicants with financial hardship.  If you would like to request a fee waiver, please complete and submit your application first. You will then be able to access the fee waiver request form. Please note that you will be required to provide documentation of your hardship. This can include:

  • A copy of your most recent FAFSA application
  • A letter from your Financial Aid office confirming you have been awarded need-based aid
  • Documentation that you have received a Pell Grant
  • Documentation of public assistance that is less than one year old

Financial hardship application fee waivers are not available to international students applying to M.S. programs.