Frequently-Asked Questions by Prospective Graduate Students

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  • What are the distinctive features of the graduate program in physics at the University at Buffalo?

    Graduate students choose our program because it combines excellence with optimal size and diversity. They appreciate that we are large enough to have top-notch research concentrations, both theoretical and experimental, in condensed-matter physics, high-energy physics, astrophysics, and biological physics, but small enough to offer a friendly, intimate environment with a lot of personal attention given to individual students. They like the fact that, among our thirty faculty members, there is a good mix of highly seasoned and renowned senior faculty as well as outstanding and enthusiastic younger faculty, including an increasing number of female faculty. They enjoy the company of about ninety fellow graduate students with different background, ethnicity, gender, and country of origin.
  • What kind of financial assistance is available to graduate students?

    A majority of our beginning graduate students are supported by teaching assistantships and/or fellowships of $16,300-$24,300 for the academic year, together with tuition scholarships and university-paid health insurance. Many advanced students are supported by research assistantships. Some are offered the opportunity to become course lecturers. Additional summer support is also possible. The relatively low cost of living in Buffalo means that the same stipend goes a longer way here than in most other locations.
  • What is it like living and studying in Buffalo?

    The Buffalo-Niagara metropolitan area has a population of about one million and is well situated in western New York State, with easy access to northeastern United States, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Ontario, Canada, and reasonable airfare to most places. It offers excellent cultural and recreational amenities without the high living expenses and stressful environment associated with larger cities. Abundant and affordable housing is available on-campus or nearby for single or married students. Buffalo has four distinct seasons with different attractions. The winter is actually no different from that in other northern cities, and can be an asset for those who love downhill or cross-country skiing. The campus is one of the most modern among major research universities in the United States, with state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, powerful supercomputers, and wireless connectivity. It is located in Amherst, a suburb of Buffalo, which has been consistently rated one of the safest cities in the country.
  • What kind of career is possible with a graduate degree in physics from the University at Buffalo?

    By acquiring a rigorous foundation of basic knowledge and skills as well as hands-on research experience, our graduates are equipped with the necessary tools to embark in any career which values technical aptitude and analytical thinking, as well as the ability to adapt to changes. Most of our graduates are employed as university or college faculty, or in senior technical or managerial positions in industrial, commercial, research or biomedical institutions.
  • What are the selection criteria for your applicants?

    Applicants are evaluated on the basis of their transcripts, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, three letters of recommendation, and any research and/or other pertinent experience. The GRE Subject Test in Physics, while not required, is strongly recommended for applicants seeking financial assistance. There are no minimum selection criteria, but most of our students are in the top quartile of their peers. International applicants are required to have a minimum Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT score of 79 for admission. Those who would like to be considered for a teaching assistantship are expected to have a TOEFL iBT score exceeding 95.
  • Will a student be admitted to a specific sub-specialty, such as astrophysics or biological physics?

    It is helpful to our planning and advisement for an applicant to indicate the area(s) of physics that are of particular interest to the student. However, all students are initially admitted to a general M.S. or Ph.D. degree track. The selection of a sub-specialty usually occurs after a student has passed the Qualifying Examination, and is contingent on satisfactory academic performance, the capacity and needs of the various faculty research groups, and the approval of the Department.
  • What is the application procedure?

    Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply online. Those who are unable to apply online and have to submit paper applications should download the necessary forms here.
  • What is the application deadline?

    Most new students are admitted in the fall semester, for which the application deadline is the previous February 1. To be considered for Presidential and/or Dean's Fellowship, your application has to be completed by January 15). Late applications are considered for those currently living in the United States.
  • When are admission decisions made?

    Most decisions on admission and financial assistance in the fall semester are made in late February and early March. Some late decisions are made after April 15.
  • Are students admitted in the spring semester?

    Students can be admitted in the spring semester. However, there might be difficulty in selecting courses, since many courses are two-semester sequences starting in the fall. Also, there are typically very few assistantship openings in the spring. In addition, international students may not have sufficient lead-time to obtain visas.
  • What are the institutional and department codes to submit test scores?

    GRE: Institution Code = 2925, SUNY - U at Buffalo; Department Code = 0808, Physics.
    TOEFL: Institution Code = 2925, St. U. of NY - Ctr. at Buffalo (U.); Department Code = 76, Physics.
    In addition, unofficial copies of test scores should be submitted with an application to expedite the review process.
  • What is the procedure to pay the application fee after applying online?

    The $75 application fee can be paid by credit card online (PhD applicants, MS applicants). The hours of operation for UB's ePayment service are 8 am to 11 pm (eastern standard time) except official holidays. A check or money order (payable to the University at Buffalo) mailed to the Department (see address below) is also acceptable. Please note that this fee is non-refundable.
  • Can the English proficiency requirement for an international student be waived or deferred?

    The English proficiency requirement for an international student can be waived or deferred only under very special circumstances as described here.
  • What is the financial requirement for a self-supporting international student?

    A self-supporting international student has to document adequate financial resources before being admitted. Additional information can be found here.
  • Are there special provisions for students from Canada?

    The University is a 30-minute drive from southern Ontario and welcomes students from Canada. Various options of full-time or part-time status as resident or commuting students available to Canadian citizens or landed immigrants are described here.
  • How does a prospective student contact the Department of Physics at the University at Buffalo?

    Most information can be found at the Department webpage. However, the Department welcomes any inquiry by email, phone or mail. Academic questions can be directed to Dr. Xuedong Hu , Director of Graduate Studies or Dr. Hao Zeng , Graduate Recruitment Chair. Applicants with specific research interests are also encouraged to contact individual faculty members directly (see faculty directory). Technical questions about an application can be directed to Yvette Pardee , Graduate Secretary (ydpardee@buffalo.edu, 716-645-3642) or Nicole Mercer, Assistant to the Chair (ndmercer@buffalo.edu, 716-645-3334). The address for any correspondence by mail is Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Physics, University at Buffalo, Buffalo NY 14260-1500, USA. The fax number is 716-645-2507.
  • How to Request Graduate Program Information online?

    Please follow this link to request graduate program information.
  • What are the minimum TOEFL scores?

    Paper test: 550
    Computer test: 213
    Internet test: 79