I'm currently studying (Undergraduate) Physics in a University where, regardless of their department, every student must take some English, Turkish and History courses, which I don't want to attend. Turkish and History courses are non-credit but not English, so it affects my GPA. Moreover, I will take violin, astrophysics and philosophy courses as non-included.

So here is my question: when I am applying for a PhD in Physics or Mathematics, does any of these courses have any effect on my admission?

Note: My main concern is whether having low grades in English ,which is not a non-credit course, affect my Phd admission ?

  • Regarding I will take violin , astrophysics and philosophy courses as non-included., would you please explain what you mean by "non-included"? Are they counted as part of your GPA or not?
    – Nobody
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 4:48
  • No , they are not a part of my GPA.
    – Our
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 5:13
  • Is the course astrophysics unrelated to Physics?
    – Nobody
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 5:14
  • No , it is not .It was just an extra information.
    – Our
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 9:38
  • Are you interested in the Ph.D. program for the degree, or because you want to learn? Why don't you attend the English courses? You might enjoy them, and you might benefit from them as well.
    – shoover
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 14:50

5 Answers 5


If you are applying to programs in the US, more important than your grades in English classes is your performance on the TOEFL. Many universities have a minimum TOEFL score required before the department can even consider your application, and these rules are often difficult or impossible for the department to bend, even for an exceptionally attractive candidate.

There is more information in the answers to this question. (For example, someone there mentions that the minimums at "Yale and Stanford are about 100, Harvard is 109" -- out of 120 points total.)

Given the quality of the English in your original question (before it was improved by helpful editors), I don't think you can afford to blow off your English classes if you have any hope of studying in the US.

  • Thanks for your answer.After you had talked about the quality of the English in my original question , I asked this question in English LL SE with editing because there was basic grammar mistakes which can be handled easily, ell.stackexchange.com/questions/89757/… , if you explain in which ways the quality is not enough , I will be glad.
    – Our
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 4:46

In general I am pretty sure attending those courses will definitely not have a bad effect on your admission. Attending courses with topics outside the subjects area shows that you don't have a much 'limited horizon' and they broaden your interdisciplinary skills. To gain expertise in philosophy and astrophysics is maybe leading to have an eye of a bigger picture when solving problems and playing the violin testifies character. Those courses will so be seen as a plus regarding your personal skills when applying.

  • But actually my main concern is the English course ,which is not non-credit courses , because I my grade will not be high.As I said in question , even I won't be attending the lecture ,so is this will have an negative effect on my admission ?
    – Our
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 9:41
  • 3
    @Leth Depends on where you apply. If you apply anywhere with English as the main language then poor English skills will have a negative effect (even apart from the possible effect on your GPA). Commented May 11, 2016 at 11:01
  • @TobiasKildetoft I have no problem with English.that is not the point.The point is whether having a low grade in a must course unrelated with your degree have any negative on effect my Phd admission ?
    – Our
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 11:05
  • 6
    If I were evaluating your application I'd have to take low grades in English courses as an indication that your English wasn't very good. This is relevant to PhD admissions to programs at universities in English speaking countries. Commented May 11, 2016 at 12:15
  • 4
    I agree in @BrianBorchers comment but additionally I see the problem not only in English speaking countries since English is the main language for science and could absolutely effect your admission. The question is, how bad your grades will be compared with your GPA and if you have other references to proof your English skills. Of course there can be multiple reasons why you earn poor grades in an university topic like having a bad day when attending the test and so on. If it's possible to proof your skills otherwise, you should be good to go.
    – ArnoXf
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 12:51

Anything that affects your GPA will get considered. If it has resulted in your GPA being low, but your grades in relevant subjects were considerably higher, you should absolutely address it in your application letter or have it addressed in your recommendation letters. If it is just one or two Cs that don't really have much effect on your GPA, it is probably nothing to worry about.


If you are applying to a USA University, English courses will play some factor as many grad students end up being the ones teaching lab sessions etc.
If you are currently a student in Turkey who plans to take Physics at a grad school in Turkey, Physics/Math is probably all you need to care about.


Any university worth its salt welcomes grad school candidates with eclectic academic backgrounds, provided they have an appropriate range of courses, with top grades, in their primary discipline. A nerd with nothing but courses in his/her discipline often lacks depth and perspective. The Dean of Law at a major Canadian U. was asked what he regarded as the ideal degree as prep for Law School. He said that would be a five-year double-Honours BA in Philosophy and English Literature. And I wouldn't be concerned about a low grade in English affecting your GPA. Your grad school committee will see that it is your only low grade.

  • 5
    I don't see the relevance of what some guy in a law school says: maths and physics have very different admissions criteria to law and are much more interested in "good scientist" than "well-rounded character" as an admissions criterion. And your advice about the English grade is bad: any university in an English-speaking country will need evidence that an applicant cna speak English well and a low grade in an English course suggests they can't do that. Even outside English-speaking countries, any published paper is going to have to be in English, so English skills are important. Commented May 11, 2016 at 14:24
  • @David Richerby. You might read a little more carefully. I said nothing whatever about "character"; my remarks focused on educational outcomes. Nor did I say anything about level of skill in English--the person asking the question was concerned about impact on his GPA. I responded only to that. As for the Law School analogy, One would expect a Dean of Law to be looking for a degree in Commerce or Accounting--something directly relevant like that. Phil. & English are incongruous. Einstein and Hocking both declare 'imagination' and 'creativity' lead to the 'best science.'
    – clark
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 17:56
  • 1
    The question expresses the concern that a low grade in the English course might "have any affect on my admission". You say no; I say yes because it suggests their English is poor. And it doesn't matter what I or anyone else would expect a Law School dean to be looking for because that is completely irrelevant to mathematics and physics. Likewise, the views of Einstein and Hocking (Hawking?) on imagination and creativity don't seem relevant: the question is about how low English grades (which also suggest a lack of imagination and creativity) would affect grad school maths/physics admissions. Commented May 12, 2016 at 10:07
  • Your language is excessive ('completely irrelevant') and the tenor of your response is dismissive of mine and bordering on insulting. Continuing a dialogue with you is neither constructive nor interesting. Have a good day Sir.....
    – clark
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 17:00

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