These two questions https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/110303/is-a-good-gre-score-enough-for-a-non-math-graduate-to-be-accepted-in-a-decent-pu?rq=1&fb_source=message and https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/110303/is-a-good-gre-score-enough-for-a-non-math-graduate-to-be-accepted-in-a-decent-pu?rq=1 inspire me to ask this question.

Unlike Math GRE in Physics GRE, almost everything taught in first 3 years of undergrad is examined with almost equal percentage of total questions (Classical Mechanics 20%, EM 18%, QM 12%, Optics 9%) while in math, 50% can be scored only with good calculus skill.

  1. Can one expect to be accepted in good physics grad schools if he has good Physics GRE score?

  2. Another question is, can one go to theoretical physics grad school only with good score in Physics GRE?

I hope this is appropriate place to ask these questions.

  • 1
    A general point: Graduate admissions are a mixed bag. Some places put more weight on the physics GRE than others (a too-low score usually predicts a student will fail grad classes, but unfortunately a high score doesn't predict research success, especially in experiment), but they are all going to want to know why you didn't take the classes.
    – wsc
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 4:19
  • The "two questions" links both point to the same question.
    – JeffE
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 13:36

1 Answer 1


Graduate admissions is based on lots of different factors. I don't think any one thing will make you in-eligible for acceptance, at even the best institutions---including not being a physics major. That being said, unless you have physics (or similar) experience, or are in a related field, it will hurt your application. I know numerous people with math, computer science, engineering and chemistry backgrounds who have joined (and are doing well in) prestigious physics programs (e.g. stanford, chicago, columbia).

If you have experience in a not-too-distant field (e.g. chemistry), one way to make your application more appealing - would be if you are interested in subjects somewhere between physics and chemistry (for example).

If you can demonstrate that you have excelled in your own field, and have an aptitude for physics (e.g. good GRE scores), you shouldn't have a problem!

  • I am studying CSE. Before I graduate I'll be taking about 24 to 30 credit hour of computer hardware and electrical courses. So can CSE be considered as engineering? Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 9:14
  • 1
    Absolutely. Day to day, doing physics is often a lot more like CSE---I think you can have a strong application. Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 14:26
  • but I can't take any electromagnetism course because my university rules are very rigid. do you think it can be a problem if I want to go for theoretical physics (may be QFT or String theory)? Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 6:17
  • 1
    As long as you do well on the GRE it won't be a problem. It's standard to take E&M as a graduate course Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 13:49

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