Application Requirements

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Some degree programs in the Physical Sciences Division require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. It is recommended that you take the test well in advance of your program's application deadline if you plan to submit scores. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) institutional code for the University of Chicago is 1832.

GRE scores are valid only if the exam was taken within five years prior to the application deadline. No program in the Physical Sciences Division requires a minimum GRE score for admission. Applicants should self-report their GRE scores in the application so that their dossiers may be reviewed while the official scores are en route. For information on GRE requirements, please see the admissions sections on the websites of our academic programs.

English Language Proficiency

Applicants whose first or native language is not English must demonstrate an adequate command of both spoken and written English, and they are required to submit English proficiency test scores as part of their application. We recognize the internet-based test (iBT) of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Applicants whose total score on the four-part TOEFL falls below 90 (or IELTS falls below 7) will not normally be admitted unless other demonstrable evidence of proficiency in English is available, with the following exceptions:

  • Biophysical Sciences: The minimum required score on the TOEFL is 104.
  • Geophysical Sciences The minimum required score on the TOEFL is 22 in each section with a 95 overall.

The minimum required IELTS score is a 7 overall.

If you are taking the TOEFL, request the scores to be sent to the University of Chicago; the University of Chicago institutional code for ETS is 1832.
If you are taking the IELTS, you should request the scores be sent electronically to the University of Chicago.

Applicants should self-report their TOEFL or IELTS scores in the application so that their dossiers may be reviewed while the official scores are en route. TOEFL or IELTS score reports are valid for two years and scores will be considered expired if the test was taken more than two years prior to submission of the application.

Language Requirement Waivers

The English language requirement may be waived if the applicant is a native of or studied in full-time status for at least one academic year within the last five years in one of the following countries:

  • U.S.
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • The Caribbean countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago
  • Guyana, or
  • English medium universities in Canada or South Africa*
    • *NOTE: This applies only to English medium universities in Canada or South Africa. Study in English medium universities in other countries does not qualify for a waiver

Waivers apply to students from the countries listed above only. Students who are natives of or who have studied in English in other countries (for example, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc.) are not exempt from the English language requirement.

For frequently asked questions about the TOEFL and IELTS, please visit the Office of International Affairs website.

Application Fee Waivers

Your application fee will be waived if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are a University of Chicago student or alumnus.
  • You are a Fulbright Scholar.
  • You are currently serving in or are a veteran of the U.S. Military.
  • You have successfully completed and submitted a BTAA Free App request.
  • You have participated in one of the following programs:  AmeriCorps/Vista, Gates Millennium Scholars, National GEM Consortium, Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers, Leadership Alliance, McNair Scholars, Mellon Mays, Peace Corps, Project 1000, Teach for America.

If you meet one of the above criteria, check the appropriate box in the application and provide documentation when/if required.

The Physical Sciences Division provides fee waivers for applicants with financial hardship. If you would like to request a fee waiver, please complete and submit your application first. You will then be able to access the fee waiver request form. Please note that you will be required to provide documentation of your hardship. This can include:

  • A copy of your most recent FAFSA application
  • A letter from your Financial Aid office confirming you have been awarded need-based aid
  • Documentation that you have received a Pell Grant
  • Documentation of public assistance that is less than one year old

Financial hardship application fee waivers are not available to international students applying to M.S. programs.