Skip navigation.
New Mexico State University
Department of Physics
About Us

Physics for Graduate Students

Application for Foreign Students

Admission is based on undergraduate and/or previous graduate grade-point averages, performance on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and references. Please be aware that there are no minimum test scores or grades that guarantee admission. Admissions are competitive and available positions are filled with those students whose records indicate that they are most likely to complete successfully a graduate program of study. The university requires a minimum of 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) for regular admission; please follow this link for information on the university requirements and other admission-related questions. The Department of Physics requires the general GRE test; the physics GRE test is required for financial assistance by the department and is strongly recommended for all applicants.

To apply for admission to NMSU and our physics program, please carefully follow the instructions below.

If you need financial support in the form of a Graduate Assistantship, it is recommended that you also complete the Physics Graduate Application for Financial Aid. This contains a summary of the information that you will supply during the online application process and provides the department with advance notification of your application before it is completed. During the application process, you will also be requested to provide the names and contact information of 3 former instructors or persons familiar with your academic or research accomplishments who are willing to submit letters of reference, preferably using this form. These persons will be contacted directly by the university and will be asked to supply the letters. An applicant cannot be considered until the entire application process is completed electronically; more detailed information on the procedure is provided below.

The department makes an effort to provide financial support, in the form of a Teaching or Research Assistantship, either full or partial, to all admitted graduate students who are not supported by an outside agency or government fellowship, but asks that students specify in their application that they are requesting financial support by submitting the above mentioned form. Non-New Mexico students who are awarded at least half a Graduate Assistantship are also offered a waiver of the out-of-state tuition.

Education Requirements

The Department of Physics offers both thesis and non-thesis M.S. programs. Requirements for both of these programs include: course work, and passing the written qualifying exam & oral final exam. The general time-frame for the M.S. program is about two years to completion. A master's thesis is optional and may require additional time to complete.

The Ph.D. program requires additional course work to the M.S. degree; passing qualifying, comprehensive & final exams; and writing a dissertation based on original research in an area of physics. A Master's is not required for admission to the Ph.D. program. Doctoral students may elect to receive the Master's degree as soon as all requirements for that degree are satisfied, while continuing work on their Ph.D. degree. The time required for completion of the Ph.D. program varies with an average of about 6 years.

More information about the requirements for physics M.S. and Ph.D. degrees can be found in the Department’s Graduate Student Requirements (pdf or plain text).

Language Requirements

The university requires evidence of English proficiency from all students whose degrees are from educational systems with a language of instruction other than English. The TOEFL or IELTS tests can be used to to satisfy this requirement. Graduate student candidates must in general score at least 79 (iBT) or 550 (PBT) on the TOEFL or 6.5 on the IELTS test for regular admission; details on the university language requirements can be found here. In addition, the department may give preference to applicants demonstrating superior English language abilities when awarding Teaching Assistantships. Students with deficient language skills may be required to take courses in English in addition to their physics courses and this could impact their progress toward a degree in physics.

Application instructions

Applicants should follow the instructions on the university's online application page for graduate students; there is a $50 application fee, which is imposed by the university and cannot be waived by the Physics Department. Once an application is complete, it will be forwarded to the Physics Department for consideration. Supplemental documentation required by the department should also be submitted electronically as described in the application page.
Below is a summary of the departmental requirements:

  • Official GRE scores, reported directly by ETS to the university
    • The General GRE is required
    • The Physics GRE is strongly recommended and is required for financial assistance
  • Letters of recommendation, sent directly to the department
  • Application for financial support, if support is requested from the department
  • For applicants to the Ph.D. program, a concise statement of purpose, not more than one-and-a-half-to-two pages, describing the student's research interests and any relevant prior experience


To ensure full consideration, complete applications must be received by the following target dates:

  • For Fall Semester admission, February 15
  • For Spring Semester admission, September 1

Late applications may be considered if there are still unfilled positions. Please keep in mind that most new graduate students are admitted for the Fall Semester. Spring admissions are sometimes offerered if assistantships become available during the year, but a spring starting date is not optimal, due to several two-semester sequences of courses and the scheduling of the Qualifying and Comprehensive Exams. International students interested in Spring Semester admission are advised to contact the department well ahead of the deadline above to inquire about the availability of Graduate Assistantships and keep in mind that issuing of immigration documents may take several months after the department makes a recommendation for admission.