For a PhD application due in mid-December to Mid-January, what is the deadline for sending the GRE and TOEFL scores? I know the answer is different based on the university and the program I am applying to, but I think there is some date which I can't exceed.

I want to apply for a PhD program this year, the deadline for the application is between mid-December and Mid-January, but the GRE and TOEFL scores won't be available till mid-March. Is that acceptable?

  • 2
    As an applicant last year, I think that scores arriving so late would be unacceptable at most universities (at least in physics). Universities will start sending out offers starting in February and your application cannot be fully evaluated by then. You should check for deadlines on university websites; no point in getting a general deadline if all the individual ones are before it. Oct 1, 2016 at 11:50
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    I think you are missing a key point here; the scores are a part of youra application. As long as your scores haven't reached the university, your application is incomplete. Oct 1, 2016 at 11:53
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    @theindigamer: We do accept GRE scores after the application deadline. And we will start looking at your application even if it doesn't have GRE scores. So if they arrive in early January, they're still taken into account, and your application isn't thrown out for being incomplete. But as the first comment says, mid-March is after the decisions are made, and so is too late. Oct 1, 2016 at 13:04
  • @PeterShor, in my first comment, I meant the "soft deadlines" usually stated on the university website as "we should receive your GRE/TOEFL scores no later than the last week of January" or something similar. Sorry for not making that clear. Oct 1, 2016 at 15:38
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    How can you already know that your scores take that long? If the testing center nearest to your home has no slots open, you can always travel a bit further. It should be possible to get the results sooner. Especially for TOEFL you don't need to study more than a few days. (If you have more or less the required level, if not at all, then even a few more weeks will probably not help) Oct 31, 2016 at 21:30

1 Answer 1


It depends on the university and the department and there is usually no way to tell from the outside unless the website is explicit. Unless you have information to the contrary, you should treat the deadline as the deadlines for all materials to arrive.

Many universities/departments will red flag missing TOEFL scores from international students and treat the file as incomplete - which means the application won't even get forwarded to the admissions committee. Some programs will also red flag missing GREs for both domestic and international students. The committee won't see these files.

In the application management system I used at my old department, I could run an alternate search for incomplete applications and still find incomplete or flagged files, but they wouldn't show in the default view and certainly not in the exported spreadsheet we used for committee ranking assignments.

So if your materials are arriving late, I'd write to both the graduate school and the admissions committee director or graduate studies director and make sure they know to flag your file for further attention. They may also tell you there's nothing they can do about an application that is missing material.

By the way, we usually have made our decisions by mid- to late- February so your scores arriving in March will definitely be too late and your application would likely get rejected as incomplete (unless you can argue that the TOEFL is inapplicable because you went to an English speaking college or some other reason).

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