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[F]requently [A]sked [Q]uestions - for Applicants

The Majority of the following answers were found on the graduate school website. And remember, ALL STUDENTS MUST APPLY ONLINE!

Admissions Questions

  • What is the application fee and how do I pay for it?  
    • After you complete and submit your online application, you will be prompted to choose a payment method for your non-refundable application fee. You may either pay by credit card, check or money order. Cash is not an option.
    • If you want to use the fee waiver, you must select check.
    • If you wish to pay by credit card, follow the prompts for entering your credit card information.
    • If you choose to pay by check or money order, make your check or money order payable to North Carolina State University and send it to the appropriate address below. The application fee for United States citizens and permanent residents is $75.00 in U.S. currency drawn from a U.S. bank. The application fee for international applicants is $85.00 in U.S. currency drawn from a U.S. bank or from an international bank with a U.S. affiliate. Please be sure that your name and date of birth are written on your check or money order. You should print out the payment voucher that appears after you select the payment option and include it with your payment. Remember that, once you have selected the option to pay by check or money order, you no longer have the option to pay by credit card.

      For U.S. Postal Service:
      Graduate Admissions Office
      North Carolina State University
      Box 7102
      Raleigh, NC 27695-7102

      For all Couriers Requiring a Street Address:
      Graduate Admissions Office
      North Carolina State University
      Room 240, Research Building III
      1005 Capability Drive
      Campus Box 7102
      Raleigh, NC 27695-7102

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  • What about transcripts  
    One official transcript from all colleges and universities previously attended; (NOTE: Applicants currently attending, or who have previously attended NC State, are not required to provide an NC State transcript.) A list of courses in progress if enrolled as a Post-Baccalaureate Studies (PBS) student at NC State is requested as well.
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  • What about Recommendations  
    Three recommendations from people who know the prospective student's academic record and potential for graduate study.
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  • Can you waive the application fee?  
    For 2017 admission, we will waive the application fee for the first 100 applicants that are American citizens and that have an undergraduate GPA of better than 3.0 . More details are here. We are able to extend to the waiver to members of underrepresented minorities after the 100-applicant ceiling has been reached. Please contact us.
    The Physics department does NOT waive the application fee for international students.
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  • When is the online admission application for the graduate program in physics at NCSU going to be active?  
    You can apply online for the fall or spring semester here.
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  • Do you admit students who have earned their bachelors and masters degree from Electrical Engineering?  
    Yes, if he/she feels as though their physics background is strong enough to begin taking graduate physics courses immediately. Please explain in your Candidate Statement why you think you are prepared for our program.
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  • Do I need to submit Physics GRE score in order to be considered for admission to the graduate program?  
    We do requuest all students to take the general GRE and strongly suggest all students take the Physics GRE, especially if you do not have a lot of physics course work in your background. This helps us better judge the best path for you.
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  • How many international graduate students do you plan to recruit in the fall?  
    About half of all students are international students. Each semester the exact number is determined based on the quality of the applicants and our department's budget as well as the number of prospective students that apply.
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  • Usually how many international students apply each year? (Chinese, Russian, etc) How many are admitted?  
    This varies each semester. Most recently, we had approximately 75 international applicants. We are very proud of our international student's accomplishments and feel they enjoy their academic/learning experience while here at NCSU.
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  • What are the average TOEFL scores, GRE scores and GPA of the majority applicants who have been offered admittance into your department?  
    This data is not available for release.
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  • How long are TOEFL scores valid?  
    TOEFL scores are valid for up to two years prior to the beginning of the semester in which you wish to enroll. If you are required to take the TOEFL, you cannot be granted admission with an expired TOEFL score.
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  • What are the minimum required scores of the GRE?  
    Each applicant is reviewed individually. The decision to apply is up to the individual student. High (superior) scores – such as GRE and TOEFL – do favorably support the applicant.
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  • What about the TOEFL Exam?
    In order to be eligible for admission to the Graduate School all international applicants, regardless of citizenship, must demonstrate proficiency in English at a level necessary to be successful in a graduate program at NC State. This requirement can be met for most applicants in one of the following ways; however, some programs may require additional evidence of English proficiency:

    1. Provide Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a total score of at least 80 on the Internet-based Test (iBT). The Physics department requires the following minimum test scores for each section:
      Listening:20 points
      Reading:20 points
      Writing:20 points
      Speaking:20 pointsfor admission to the Graduate School
       23 pointsfor TA appointment where TA has direct verbal interactions with students
       26 pointsfor TA appointment where TA presents lectures in the class or laboratory
      NOTE: The current computer- and paper-based versions of the TOEFL test will be given until the iBT version is implemented in a particular location. Computer-based TOEFL scores must be 213 or higher (with at least 17 on three sections and no section score below 13). The paper-based test requires a score of 550 or higher (with scores of 50 on at least two of the three sections and no section score below 45).
    2. Provide International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores with an overall band score of at least 6.5. Minimum test scores for each section are listed below:
      Speaking:6.5for admission to the Graduate School
       7.0 pointsfor TA appointment
    3. Be a citizen of a country where English is an official language and the language of instruction in higher education.
    4. Have successfully completed at least one year of full-time study in a degree program at a four-year US College or university.
    5. TOEFL or IELTS test date must be no older than two years (24 months) prior to the beginning of the requested entry term.
  • Can I mail photocopies of my GRE scores and TOEFL scores instead of delivering them officially by ETS?  
    You may send a photocopy of your TOEFL score report to the Physics Department Office. The copy you mail can be used for initial review purposes. However, if you are required to take the test, you cannot be admitted until ETS sends us your official score report.
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Financial Aid

Most students (>95%) in the PY graduate program are supported by a teaching assistantship (TA), research assistantship (RA) or Fellowship. Typical TA/RA support levels in Fall 08 are ~$21,750/year. Health insurance is provided to all students in good standing, as is tuition for at least 5 years for those on TA or RA appointments or Fellowships. – The cost of living near NCSU is relatively low, particularly compared to major metropolitan areas. Additional, information can be found here.
  • What is application deadline for financial aid?  
    The same as the deadline for the application.
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  • What are the best fellowships for international students to choose?  
    Each student should check to see what opportunities are available to them. The eligibility requirements are stated for each fellowship. We may suggest or propose candidates with positive decisions to fellowships that require nomination from the program.
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Specific Questions

  • My TOEFL and GRE general scores are 59(listening)+65+60+4.0, V/520/65%+Q/948/87%+A/3.0/7% respectively and my undergraduate overall GPA is about 3.5 and major GPA is approximately 3.6, ranking 2/57, so are they competitive enough to get a financial aid?  
    There are no set requirements for financial aid. If a student is offered admission, our department usually offers financial support to the student.
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  • I am from India my graduation is of 3 years. Will it create any difficulty or if I have good scores in GRE general and GRE physics, I will get the admission.  
    Each applicant is reviewed individually. The decision to apply is up to the individual student. High (superior) scores-such as GRE and TOEFL-do favorably support the applicant.
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  • I was also wondering whether your department gives first-year graduate student sufficient financial aid to cover both tuition and living expenses.  
    First year graduate students are usually eligible for GSSP (Graduate Student Support Plan). This plan pays for the student's tuition and insurance as long as you hold a TA or RA within the department as funding allows. The annual stipend for a full time TA position is as follows: international or out of state students is $21,750 the annual stipend for North Carolina State residents is $22,416. If you get an RA, the annual salary is at the discretion of the Research Professor.

    For more information regarding GSSP, please refer to the graduate school webpage[PDF].
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  • Do professors give RAs to first year students as their financial aid?  
    First year students do sometimes get RAs as their financial aid if it is worked out with the research professor ahead of time. They are not offered up freely it is the students responsibility to do this themselves however, TAs are always offered to first year students as funding allows.
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  • Do I have to take the TSE in China to get a TA?  
    You have to take the SPEAK Test at NCSU and submit your TOEFL scores during your admission process to access your possibility to get a TA. Click here for questions regarding the SPEAK Test.
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  • I want information on the research done in the physics department at NCSU.  
    Please refer to the research page on the NCSU Physics website.
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  • If the department admits a student do they immediately designate a concentration to the student?  
    NO, the student should familiarize themselves and check out what areas we have to offer. This decision can be made after the student is admitted and settled in at NCSU.
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  • My TOEFL score is as follows: Reading 26, Listening 27, Speaking 24, Writing 17. Will this score be high enough to apply?  
    The minimum score for each section of the TOEFL exam is 20, and a minimum total score of 80. However, the graduate school program sometimes makes exceptions for applicants if the rest of the application is equally as strong.
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  • I am registering for my exams with ETS and was wondering what "department" I should send the scores to?  
    All GRE general exams, subject tests, and TOEFL should use the code 5496. This will send the scores directly to the graduate school and they will take care of getting the scores to each department. You do NOT need a specific physics department code.
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Physics Department Graduate Programs Office
204 Riddick Hall
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-8202
Phone 919-515-8706, fax: 919-515-6538