PhD Admissions

Thank you for your interest in applying to the Ph.D. program of the USC Department of Physics and Astronomy. Our rigorous program provides students with a broad education in physics while giving them an opportunity to conduct hands-on indepenent research in an area of their choosing. Our vibrant program currently includes more than 80 Ph.D. students from all around the world. These students work collaboratively with our world-class faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and research scientists on a wide range of research problems in all areas of physics.

You can apply to our program through the University's online system, Apply Yourself. Prospective students interested in joining our program in the following Fall semester should submit their application by December 1. Later applications will be considered but may not be eligible for all fellowship awards.

Every year, USC offers a number of webinars as part of the Spotlight:USC program. Please visit Spotlight:USC Webinars to learn about this year's dates and register for one of the sessions. These webinars teach attendees how to effectively navigate the USC graduate application process. If you want to learn how to successfully complete USC’s online Graduate Application, avoid common mistakes (and possible delays), and make the strongest presentation possible to your prospective USC graduate program, Spotlight:USC is for you.

Graduate Admissions FAQs


Decisions on admissions are made by the Department's Admissions Committee. The most important factors considered in the admissions process are:

  • Performance in previous undergraduate/graduate course-work and research (prior research involvement at the undergraduate level is considered very positively). Performance in courses in physics, mathematics and related sciences is considered to be the most relevant; on the basis of A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, a Grade Point Average (GPA) in these (undergraduate) courses of 3.5 to 4.0 would be expected for an applicant to the Ph.D. program.
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Scores on both the General and Subject (Physics) parts of the Graduate Record Examination, with particular emphasis being given to the Physics Test. These examinations are administered by the Educational Testing Service; it can be taken at various times of the year at numerous locations by registering and paying the ETS fee.
  • An application essay that convey how your research interests fit into our particular research program.
  • Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • University of Southern California
  • 825 Bloom Walk
  • ACB 439
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0484