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We've compiled a short list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) that past students have had about the graduate admissions process in our department. If you have a question that's not listed here, please feel free to email our graduate recruiting committee representatives (at mbuckley[at]physics.rutgers.edu and matilsky[at]physics.rutgers.edu).

Question
Do I need to be 100% sure that I want to do a Ph.D. thesis in astronomy when I apply?
Answer
No! You can do your qualifier project in astronomy and your thesis in some branch of physics, or vice versa, and no one in the department will hold it against you. In fact, if you have interests that are not limited to astronomy (extending to high energy physics, nuclear physics, etc.), the Rutgers graduate program with its broad range of research opportunities can be an excellent place to discover what sort of (astro)physics suits you best.

Question
When can I expect to to hear if I've been admitted or not?
Answer
Initial offers of admission are generally made from mid to late February. The department also maintains a substantial wait list, but because students receiving offers in February often do not make decisions until early April, it is not always possible to admit students off the wait list until quite close to the April 15th decision deadline. If you are under pressure to make a decision on another offer and would like to know where you stand at Rutgers, you can email the graduate program director (rgilman[at]physics.rutgers.edu).

Question
Can I schedule a visit to the astronomy group to improve my chance of admission?
Answer
We provide financial support for visits to Rutgers by all admitted students at any time before April 15th. If you are not in this category but would still like to visit (especially during the fall semester) and can get to Rutgers on your own steam, we can generally arrange for you to meet with several astronomy faculty members and graduate students so you can gain a better sense of our program. We also typically send a few members of our group to each year's winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society, where you are welcome to introduce yourself.

Question
Do I need to earn a particular score on the physics GRE subject test to be admitted?
Answer
The astronomers on our department's graduate admissions committee conduct an initial review of applications without considering GRE scores at all. We do want to make sure that all of the students we admit are prepared to take and do well in our program's required first-year graduate physics and astronomy classes (as described here), so we look for evidence of readiness in applicants' physics course grades and recommendation letters, supplemented by GRE scores. Students with a wide range of scores have been admitted to and succeeded in our program; as a point of reference, in recent years half of all admitted students with interest in astronomy had physics GRE scores between the 38th and 73th percentiles (with a quarter scoring lower and a quarter scoring higher).

Last edited February 20, 2017.