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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I find out about the various research programs in your department?

  • All our information is on the web-site at http://www.physics.utoronto.ca and is frequently updated by the Faculty and the Administration to remain as current as possible.

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 accepted?

  • We do accept students who come from closely related fields (e.g. Physics and Astronomy, Engineering Physics, etc.)  One of the criteria used by the Admissions Committee is consideration of whether the applicant has sufficient background for the field of study proposed.  It is therefore important to "make the case" in this area if your degree is from a different field.

4. How firm is the "B+ or better" minimum requirement for admission?

  • Very firm, we have many more applications from well-qualified candidates than we can possibly accept.  Unless you can "make the case" that your grades do not reflect your potential, you will be rejected if your average is less.

5. Do I have to fill in forms for financial support, scholarships, etc.?

  • There are no specific forms for the support offered by the Department of Physics. This is automatically included in your application. If eligible, you should apply for NSERC PGS/CGS support and OGS support.  This is normally done through your current university, or in special cases directly with the sponsoring organizations.  You should also enquire about other scholarships for which you might be eligible: e.g. 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 xxxx university will be considered as sufficient for admission?

  • The School of Graduate studies has an equivalency table for many countries.  Check here for the latest information.

8. If I send you my transcript, can you tell me if I will be admitted?

  • No, we can only decide on admission offers after receipt of a full application by the required deadline.

9. What is the Letter of Intent and what should I say in it?

  • The Admissions Committee is interested in your reasons for wanting to come to Toronto to study physics, not so much why you want to study physics in the first place.  A statement demonstrating knowledge of the department, your field, and why you think that you would benefit from studying here is of more utility than one which explains why you like studying physics in general.

10. How long is the Letter of Intent?

  • It says one page and it must be one page in length (Printing in small type is not regarded as clever!).  Longer documents will not be read.

11. Who should I get to be my referees?

  • The reference letters should be from professors who are familiar with you as a person and who have experience with research.  A letter from a professor with whom you worked on a small research project in your last year as an undergraduate is of more utility than one from the professor of your very large first-year physics class.  We require two references. 

12. I have some special circumstances.  How can I tell the committee about them?

  • The committee will read any reasonable, short document attached to the application form (but not papers, reports, preprints etc.).  Please inform the committee succinctly about these circumstances.

13. Can you waive the application fee in my case?

  • No, we have no power to waive the application fee.

14. Can you send me a paper copy of the application forms?

  • No, they are all freely available on the web-site.

15. Do I need to mail in any information to you regarding my application package?

  • No.  All parts of the application package are to be uploaded on the application site.  Do not mail your application or parts of it to either the Physics Department or the School of Graduate Studies.

16. Can I apply after the deadline?

  • The only students who may apply after the deadline are those with a major external scholarship (e.g. NSERC, OGS, Commonwealth, etc.). Others will be deferred to the next round of selection one year later.

17. Do you accept students for January admission instead of September?

  • Not normally. There has to be some compelling reason to do so since our programs are geared to a September start and beginning in January is liable to be difficult both for us and the student.  This is most serious for the M.Sc. program which is only 12 months in length.

18.  How many students apply in a given year?

  • The number varies, but recently we have had somewhere in the range of 230-260 applications.

19. How many students begin graduate school in a given year?

  • Again, this varies, but the number has been in the range of 35-50.  The vast majority of these start at the M.Sc. level.

20. How many students continue from the M.Sc. program to the Ph.D. program?

  • Yet again, this varies.  We discourage students from coming for an M.Sc. degree only, because we believe that the M.Sc. degree is preparatory to the work of a Ph.D. degree, but we also recognize that this is a time of development, and perspectives and situations change.  The percentage varies from 65-80%.

21. How many students pass/fail their M.Sc. program after registration?

  • Our aim is to be very selective with our admissions process and to be sure that we only admit those students who can benefit from our educational offerings.  Our success rate is therefore high - about 96%.

22. How many students pass/fail their Ph.D.  program after registration?

  • Again we are very selective with our admissions process and to be sure that we only admit those students who can benefit from our educational offerings.  This applies at both the M.Sc. level and the Ph.D. level.  We do not regard the M.Sc. program as "competitive" in the sense that we take on more M.Sc. students than we can educate to Ph.D. level, but we are selective.  The success rate is therefore high - something of the order of 85%

23. Do I need to find a supervisor before I apply/arrive? This varies between the M.Sc. program and the Ph.D. program.

  • M.Sc. and direct entry Ph.D.:  It is not necessary to find a supervisor before you arrive.  In fact, selection can be delayed up to three months after you arrive, depending upon the exact M.Sc. program you select.
  • Ph.D.:  It is a condition of acceptance that you find a supervisor qualified and willing to supervise you.