Applying to Graduate School

Many graduates from our department's undergraduate program in Physics and Astronomy pursue graduate study in physics, astrophysics, engineering, and other fields. For undergraduates interested in applying to graduate degree programs, it's important to get an early start in planning, well before the start of your senior year.

Prof. Kevork Abazajian has written a very useful handbook for undergraduates considering grad school. The handbook contains a great deal of advice and information that will help you to start thinking about the graduate school applications process, including:

  • Understanding the timeline for grad school applications
  • Choosing a research area
  • Choosing where to apply
  • Your academic record and research record
  • Selecting your letter writers
  • Studying for and taking the GRE
  • Writing and polishing your application essays
  • Applying to the NSF GRFP Fellowship program
  • How to choose which school to attend 

Links to the grad school handbook:

If you are thinking about applying to grad school, having research experience is very important, and planning for summer research projects and a senior thesis project should be high priorities. Talk to your track advisor about research options and for advice on graduate school applications. You can find more information on the undergraduate research web page. Most importantly, take the time to start working on your applications well in advance and don't leave things until the last minute. Successful applications take a great deal of thought and careful planning!


Thanks to the Cal-Bridge program and numerous Cal-Bridge faculty members for contributing ideas and text to the graduate school handbook.