Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

Graduate Studies

The Applied Physics & Materials Science Department offers two distinct graduate programs, namely:

PhD degree in Applied Physics »

PhD degree in Materials Science »

Please visit the Graduate Admissions website for downloadable forms, important dates, and complete information about the graduate admissions process.

Click here for the 2022 Applied Physics Applicants Guide (pdf)

Graduate students in any option may supplement their PhD degree program with a subject minor:

Subject Minor in Applied Physics »

Subject Minor in Materials Science »

Subject Minor in Quantum Science and Engineering »


Option Representative — Applied Physics

Andrei Faraon

Option Representative — Materials Science

Katherine Faber

Options Manager

Jennifer N. Blankenship

Admission to these graduate programs is competitive and decided by separate Applied Physics and Materials Science admissions committees that review all applications. The admission process takes place once each year for enrollment during the fall. Applicants must submit applications by the December 15 deadline and are responsible for ensuring that all associated credentials are submitted by the deadline.

Upon reviewing an application, the admissions committee of the option to which it has been submitted may recommend that it also be reviewed by another option which is deemed more suitable. If your application is referred to another option, you will not be charged additional fees nor be asked to submit a duplicate application.

The PhD program begins with a year or two of coursework with simultaneous initial research activity, followed by a candidacy examination, and then typically three or four years of concentrated research culminating in writing a PhD thesis and presenting the results of this thesis orally at a final examination. To learn more, see Graduate Admissions.

Application Requirements

Applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree or the equivalent before beginning graduate study. Applicants who already possess a Ph.D. degree will generally not be considered for a second Ph.D. degree. Transcripts, letters of recommendation, and the applicant's statement of purpose are all required components of the application and are carefully weighed during the evaluation process. The admissions committee may also consider research papers, publications and other original work.

For the 2021-22 admissions cycle: The GRE test is not required for students applying to our Ph.D. program.

In Applied Physics, Ph.D. applicants may submit GRE scores (general and/or Physics subject) if they wish. However, should applicants choose not to submit scores, they will not be at a disadvantage. During the 2020-21 admissions cycle roughly 50% of admitted Applied Physics students did not submit scores.

For the 2021-22 admissions cycle: Due to limited test access as a result of COVID-19, the submission of TOEFL scores are optional for Applied Physics and Materials Science. However, whenever possible, we ask that International applicants whose native language is not English or who have not received a degree from a university where English is the primary language of instruction demonstrate English proficiency via self-reported scores from TOEFL, PTE, IELTS or another service.

Applications for graduate studies are reviewed and evaluated for admission each year starting on December 15. Students with financial hardship may submit their application without the application fee; the Caltech graduate office may contact applicants for further information related to their fee waiver request. The Applied Physics Graduate Admission Committee decides on admissions by mid-March.

Application Deadline

December 15, of each year for all degree programs in Applied Physics and Materials Science.

For further information about graduate study in the Applied Physics and Materials Science Options, please contact:

Jennifer Blankenship
Applied Physics and Materials Science Dept.
California Institute of Technology
1200 East California Boulevard
MC 128-95
Pasadena, CA 91125
Phone: (626) 395-8124