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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can I find out about the various research programs in your department?
    All information concerning research programs in Physics is available on the Departmental website at Research.
  2. Do I need to take the GRE general and subject exams?
    There is no requirement to take these examinations.
  3. I haven't got a "pure" Physics Degree. Can I be admitted?
    We do admit students who hold degrees in fields closely related to Physics (e.g., Astronomy, Engineering Physics, Mathematics, etc.). The Graduate Admission Committee will consider whether the applicant has sufficient background for the field of study proposed. Therefore, if your degree is in a field other than Physics, it is important to "make the case" that you are suitably prepared to pursue graduate courses and research in Physics.
  4. How firm is the "B+ or better" minimum requirement for admission?
    Very firm, since we receive many more applications from well qualified candidates than we can admit. Unless you can "make the case" that your grades do not reflect your potential, you will not be admitted if your academic record not satisfy at least this minimum threshold. Please note that satisfying the minimum threshold does NOT guarantee admission.
  5. Do I have to fill in forms for financial support, scholarships, etc.?
    You are not required to submit a separate application for the financial support offered by the Department of Physics. You will be automatically offered financial support upon admission. If eligible, however, you should apply for the NSERC Postgraduate/Canada Graduate Scholarship and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship. These applications are normally submitted through your current university, or in special cases directly with the sponsoring organizations.  You should also enquire about other scholarships for which you may be eligible; for example, Commonwealth citizens are eligible for Commonwealth scholarships.
  6. I have my own funding . Will that help me get admitted?
    Admission decisions are made without regard for funding at the individual application level.  If your funding is from an academic scholarship, then this will be taken as an indication of academic achievement.
  7. How do I know if my transcript from my university will be considered as sufficient for admission?
    Each year, we receive a large number of applications from highly qualified international students; however, we are able to admit only a small number of them. Please consult the International Credentials Equivalency table from the School of Graduate Studies to determine whether your academic record satisfies the minimum admission threshold. Please note that the admission process is highly competitive and satisfying the minimum threshold does not guarantee admission.
  8. If I send you my transcript, can you tell me if I will be admitted?
    No, the Graduate Admission Committee will review only complete applications submitted to the online application portal by the December 12th deadline.
  9. What is the Statement of Intent and what should I say in it?
    The statement of intent details activities and experience relevant to your proposed graduate studies, and indicates areas of research interest. Availability of supervision in the research area or sub-discipline of study is a factor influencing the final outcome. With this in mind, prospective students are encouraged to contemplate applications across a few subfields. The Graduate Admission Committee is interested in your reasons for wanting to study in the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto, not why you want to study physics generally. A statement demonstrating knowledge of this Department, your field, and why you think that you would benefit from studying here will be more informative than a statement explaining why you are interested in physics generally.
  10. How long is the Letter of Intent?
    We expect a one- to two-page free-form letter. Longer letters will not be read; you are also invited to include a CV in your application.
  11. Whom should I ask to be my referees?
    The reference letters should be from professors or scientists who are familiar with your work and can evaluate your preparation and suitability for advanced studies and research. A letter from a professor with whom you worked on a small research project in your last year as an undergraduate is more informative than one from the professor of your very large first-year physics class.  Two references are required; no more than two references are permitted.
  12. I have some special circumstances.  How can I tell the committee about them?
    Special circumstances may be addressed in the statement of intent. Please be succinct when describing special circumstances.
  13. Can you waive the application fee in my case?
    No, the application fee cannot be waived under any circumstances.
  14. Can you send me a paper copy of the application forms?
    No, we do not provide paper application forms or application packages. The application is entirely online. All relevant information and instructions, including access to the online application portal, are available on our website at Application Procedures.
  15. Do I need to mail in any information to you regarding my application package?
    No, the application process is entirely online. Do not post or email application materials to the Physics Graduate Office, nor to the School of Graduate Studies.
  16. Can I apply after the deadline?
    Only applicants hold hold a major external scholarship (e.g., NSERC, OGS, Commonwealth Scholarship, etc.) may apply after the December 12th deadline. Other late applicants may be deferred to the next round of selection, one year later.
  17. Do you accept students for January admission instead of September?
    Not normally. Due to funding priorities and the sequence in which graduate courses are offered, the MSc and PhD programs are aligned with a September start. A January start is uncommon (not more than one student per year) and available only to domestic applicants who wish to pursue and four-year PhD program.
  18. How many students apply in a given year?
    We typically receive 350 applications each year: approximately 100 from Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada, and 250 from international applicants.
  19. How many students begin graduate school in a given year?
    This number may vary, but we typically expect to welcome 35 to 50 new graduate students each year. 
  20. How many students continue from the MSc program to the PhD program?
    We consider the MSc degree to be preparatory to the PhD program. Therefore, we discourage students from planning to pursue an MSc degree only. However, we recognize that a student’s perspectives and situation may change over time, which may result in the student leaving after completing an MSc degree. Approximately 65% to 90% of students who earn an MSc degree in the Department of Physics proceed to the PhD program with us.
  21. How many students pass/fail their MSc program after registration?
    We aim to be very selective in our admission process and admit only those students who can benefit from our MSc program. The success rate among our MSc students is therefore high - approximately 96%.
  22. Do I need to find a supervisor before I apply/arrive? This varies between the MSc program and the PhD program.
    Students admitted to the MSc and (5-year) direct-entry PhD programs are not required to secure a supervisor prior to arrival on campus. In fact, supervisor selection can happen up to three months after commencing the program, depending upon the MSc Option selected. However, students starting their first year to the (4-year) PhD program are required to secure a supervisor prior to registration. Typically, newly admitted PhD students will secure their supervisor by May. The offer of admission will be withdrawn in the event a student is unable to match with a supervisor.