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 to the graduate schools and divisions of the University of Chicago who do not meet the criteria below must submit proof of English language proficiency. This policy applies to all graduate programs; the score level required for admission varies by program. Please see the Acceptable Tests section below for required minimum scores in the Physical Sciences Division. Only the TOEFL iBT or IELTS Academic tests are accepted as proof of proficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions (click FAQs)  

Waiver Criteria

English has been a primary language of communication and schooling for you since childhood; or you were enrolled for at least one academic year in full-time status in a course of study at an accredited English-medium post-secondary institution in one of the following countries or territories within the past ten years: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Hong Kong, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, the United States.

Education in English-medium institutions in other countries or territories does not qualify for the exemption.

Please Note: high school or secondary school does not qualify an applicant for exemption; nor do part-time or research-based programs that did not involve full time coursework in English.

Acceptable Tests

In order to meet the proof of proficiency requirement, students may submit either:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) internet-based test (iBT) or
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic  – Note: applicants are required to take the Academic Reading/Writing test within IELTS, not the General Training Reading/Writing test.
  • Any other proficiency tests, exams, equivalent coursework, certificate/certifications, endorsement from faculty, and/or other measurement other than the TOEFL or IELTS are not accepted.

Required Minimum Scores

Biophysical Sciences TOEFL: 104 total, no less than 26 on each subsection IELTS: 7.0 overall
Geophysical Sciences TOEFL: 95 total, no less than 22 on each subsection IELTS: 7.0 overall
All other PSD programs TOEFL: 90 total IELTS: 7.0 overall

Validity

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 the application deadline. Photocopies or PDFs of TOEFL or IELTS Score Reports will not be considered valid or accepted in lieu of an official score report.

Where to send test scores

TOEFL

If you are taking the TOEFL, request the scores to be sent to the University of Chicago. The institutional code is as follows:

  • University of Chicago: 1832

IELTS

University of Chicago downloads IELTS scores that have been transmitted to our e-download account. Please contact your test center and request that your scores be sent to the following IELTS e-download account:

University of Chicago – Graduate Enrollment
970 East 58th Street, Third Floor
Chicago, IL 60637

The University does not accept paper IELTS test report forms.

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.