How to Apply

Application Procedures

Students with a bachelor's degree in physics from an established college or university normally are prepared to begin graduate studies in physics at Lehigh and are encouraged to apply. Students with degrees in related areas will also be considered; their graduate programs will be designed to make up for possible deficiencies in physics or mathematics preparation. This page provides information for those who wish to complete the application process.

The Lehigh physics department conducts research in a wide variety of areas in physics. Unlike some programs, we do not admit applicants to work directly with individual professors or in specific subfields of physics upon admission. Rather, we admit all applicants generally to the full physics program. After the first two semesters of classes, students are paired with temporary advisors to conduct research for a summer, and then select final advisors and subfields of study. Since individual faculty have varying availability to serve as advisors, we recommend that applicants be open to working in several possible subfields of study in our program.

Application Deadline:
The review of graduate applications for fall semester admission begins on January 15th of each year. Complete applications received before that date will receive full consideration. Applications received after that date might be considered.

Minimum admissions standards:
In order to be considered for admission as a regular graduate student, Lehigh University requires that the applicant must satisfy at least one of the following conditions:

  • have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75;
  • have an average of at least 3.00 for the last two semesters of undergraduate study;
  • have scores at or above the 75th percentile on the GRE or other recognized test;
  • have a graduate GPA of at least 3.00 on a minimum of twelve hours of graduate work at other institutions; or
  • have successfully completed the probationary conditions as an associate student.

International applicants  are required to take the TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). If you have done undergraduate or graduate studies in the United States or another English speaking country during the past two years, you are not required to take the TOEFL or IELTS. The minimum scores required on the iBT TOEFL for admittance into the College of Arts & Sciences are Writing = 25; Speaking = 24; Reading = 21; Listening = 15; with a composite score of 85. The minimum scores required on the IELTS for admittance into the College of Arts & Sciences are Writing = 6.5; Speaking = 7.5; Reading = 6.5; Listening = 6.0; with a composite score of 6.5. These are the minimum scores that students should not fall below in order to be admitted to the College without some remedial language assistance.

Additional required ESL coursework must be taken during the initial academic year, concurrent with the regular department coursework, for any student with (1) one or two individual skill section scores below target, but with a composite above the target, or (2) only one individual skill section below target, but a composite score below the target. Any student with three skill section scores below target, or two skill sections below target and a composite score below, will be required to attend the StepUp Intensive English Program at Lehigh. The ESL Department must be consulted regarding this requirement.

Items required to complete an application:

  • An application form must be submitted (see below).
  • Official transcripts must be submitted from each university attended, listing the type of degree and the date it was awarded. Foreign transcripts must include notarized English translations and conversion of grades to the American 4.0 grading scale.
  • Two letters of recommendation are required.
  • The General GRE Test is required for all applicants. The Physics GRE Subject Test is not required for admission, but applicants are encouraged to take it. The TOEFL score is required for international applicants. [All exam scores must be less than 5 years old.] *Due to disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the general GRE exam is not required for applicants in the 2020-21 admissions cycle.  Students who are able to take the exam should do so and send scores, but we will still evaluate applications that do not include GRE scores.
  • A $75 non-refundable application fee should accompany the formal application.
  • International applicants are required to provide proof of financial support in the form of a financial guarantee or letter of support. If you are awarded financial aid, such as a teaching assistantship or a fellowship, this award will provide the needed financial guarantee.

How to submit the application form:

The application must be submitted online. Click on the following link to go to the College of Arts & Sciences Graduate Programs website to submit your application. Graduate Application

Letters of recommendation:

We require applicants to arrange for letters of recommendation.  When you fill out your application online, there is a section in which you will be prompted to enter the names and email addresses of your letter writers.  Once you complete your application, an automated email will be sent to the letter writers informing them of the request, with instruction on how to submit the letters through the online system.


Tuition, Costs, and Financial Aid
Tuition for 2018 -2019 is $1500 per credit hour for teaching and research assistants, but nearly all assistantships include full tuition credit.

Graduate students at Lehigh live in a wide variety of accommodations. These range from apartments and rooms within walking distance of campus to country houses and modern garden apartments a few miles away.

Expenses can be reasonable, especially if accommodations are shared. The University operates a 148-unit five-building garden apartment complex for married and graduate students, located on the Saucon Valley campus. Free bus service to the main campus is provided hourly.

Further information on housing is available from Residential Services, 63 University Drive, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 18015, (610) 758-3500 or

Teaching assistantships are normally available for graduate students. For 2017-2018, the stipend for beginning teaching assistants is $28,200 for twelve months. Tuition is remitted for the standard course load (up to nine hours of course work in each semester). In addition, graduate students are generally supported during the summer. Also, summer support may be available during the summer prior to beginning graduate study.

Some university endowed and nationally funded fellowships are available to outstanding candidates. The stipend depends on the particular award. Fellowships may have 12-month terms.

Fellows who desire some teaching experience may also be considered for limited teaching assignments, for which additional compensation is provided.

Research assistantships are available for advanced students. These typically furnish a twelve-month stipend. The twelve-month stipend for post-qualifier students for 2017-2018 is $28,764; tuition is usually also covered by the assistantship.

Copies of the booklet, "Educational Loans for Graduate Study," will be provided upon request. Write to Jennifer Mertz, Director of Financial Aid, 27 Memorial Drive West, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 18015.
For more information about the program and the application procedure, click on the links above, e-mail for questions, or to arrange a visit. Additonal information about the graduate program is also available at GradschoolShopper.
Accommodations for Applicants from China in Response to Coronavirus

We understand that as a result of the outbreak of novel coronavirus, all English tests for IELTS, TOEFL and the GRE and GMAT graduate entry exams in China are canceled at least through the end of February. All graduate program directors at Lehigh University are aware of the challenge posed by the outbreak and are willing to work with applicants who need extra flexibility.

In light of these extenuating circumstances, we are offering the following accommodations:
• Applicants affected by the cancellation of the IELTS and TOEFL exams may submit Duolingo English test results with DET score minimums required. To find your department’s DET score minimum, please refer to the published TOEFL/IELTS/DET score concordances:
• When these students arrive on campus, they must complete an additional English language assessment through Lehigh’s International Center for Academic and Professional English (ICAPE).
• Applicants to programs that require the GRE or GMAT who are unable to take the test before the appli cation deadline may apply for conditional admissions, with the expectation that they will complete the required exam before arriving at Lehigh.

Applicants to Lehigh University’s graduate programs who are affected by the suspension of these exams in China should contact the directors of the specific graduate program to which they are applying to request accommodation.