APS Bridge Program

Program FAQ



Do I need to be a U.S. citizen/permanent resident to apply?

Since the APS Bridge Program is primarily funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation, students selected for funding through the APS Bridge Program must be US Citizens or permanent residents. However, if you fall under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, you may apply to have your application circulated to our sites. Although you cannot receive APS funding, some sites may offer alternative sources of funding.

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If I have a Master's degree am I still eligible?

If your Master's degree is in physics, you are not eligible to receive funding through one of the APS Bridge Programs, but the project is also trying to help underrepresented minority students who have received a Master's degree in physics. If you have not been able to get an offer of admission into a doctoral program and are a US citizen or permanent resident, we can circulate your application to a number of institutions. You should apply through the regular Bridge Program application website. In recent years, applications have been circulated to more than 70 graduate programs, and many students have received an offer of admission.

If your Master's degree is not in physics, but you have an undergraduate degree in physics or a closely related field (e.g., astronomy, engineering physics, applied physics, etc.), then you would be eligible for funding through the APS Bridge Program. You should apply to the program through the Bridge Program application website.

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Are women included as underrepresented minorities?

Although women are underrepresented in physics and some STEM fields, the focus of the APS Bridge Program is to increase the number of physics Ph.D.s awarded to underrepresented minority (URM) students, including African American, Hispanic American, and Native American students. Those who fall under these racial and ethnic minority groups are encouraged to apply to the Bridge Program.

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Is the Physics GRE required? Is the General GRE required?

Minimum scores are not required for the Physics GRE and General GRE, and you are not required to have taken the tests in order to apply to the APS Bridge Program. However, individual Sites have their own graduate school requirements, and you may be required to submit scores for these exams if you are admitted to their program. Take a look at the Bridge Sites and the Partnership Sites pages and follow links to the specific program you are interested in to find requirements for each site.

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Is there a minimum GPA required?

There is no minimum GPA required by the APS Bridge Program to apply. However, individual Bridge Sites might have their own university or physics program GPA requirements. We have found that for promising students, site leaders will work to waive their institution's GPA requirement so you should not consider this a firm rule. Take a look at the Bridge Sites page and follow links to the specific program you are interested in to find requirements for each site.

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Is there a fee to apply?

There is no fee to apply to the APS Bridge Program. If you are accepted into a graduate program, you may be asked to formally apply to the institution you plan to attend.

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Should I skip applying to grad school and just do this?

The APS Bridge Program encourages all students to apply to graduate school through the usual process. Our program is intended to help students who have not received an offer from a graduate program or who, for whatever reason, have decided not to apply. While most students who apply get offers from one or more programs, it is not a guarantee, and you may find that the program where you gain admittance is not well suited to your goals.

Your first effort should be to choose an appropriate mix of graduate programs spanning "reach" schools to those that are more on your "safety" list. Only choosing the very best universities in the country may be a laudable goal, but may also be a recipe for rejection, as these institutions receive many hundreds of applications for a very small number of admitted students. Talk with your undergraduate advisor, research mentor, or other PhD-level physicists for advice on where to apply. You might also want to contact faculty at a desired institution to ask about your chances of admission.

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How many programs will see my application?

We send all eligible applications to APS Bridge Sites (including Ohio State University, Florida State University, University of South Florida, California State University Long Beach, Indiana University, and University of Central Florida). In addition, we make applications available to the Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge program.

Following the consideration of applications by all of these institutions, the students that did not receive or accept offers will have their applications circulated to a larger group of graduate programs for their consideration. These institutions are called Partnership Institutions and have been vetted by the APS Bridge Program. The number of approved Partnership Institutions continues to grow, but you can view the current list here.

Acceptance into Master's and PhD programs at Bridge and Partnership institutions does not come with funding through the APS Bridge Program, although institutions typically offer financial support.

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Should I apply to other bridge programs?

If you are interested in the programs at Columbia, Michigan, or MIT you should apply to these programs independently. These programs have different timelines or different processes for considering applications. As a result, your application will not be circulated to these programs.

Fisk Vanderbilt will receive your application through the APS Bridge Program. Each year, several students who applied through the APS Bridge Program are admitted into the Fisk-Vanderbilt program. Their application deadlines favor earlier submission that we can offer, so we also encourage you to apply independently to this program if this program is one you hope to attend.

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What is the deadline for applying?

The deadline for completed applications is generally the end of March. Students are encouraged to submit complete applications well before the deadline to avoid technical issues. Please view the student page for more information about the specific deadlines for each application year. Keep in mind that we need your complete application by this time. This includes your application, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Please allow some time (usually at least two weeks) to make sure your letter writers are able to get their letters uploaded before the deadline.

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When will I hear back about my application?

When your application is complete, you will receive a confirmation email regarding your application status. Students accepted into bridge programs will receive admission offers in May and June, through direct email contact with site leaders.

Although most offers go out in May and June, some institutions may make offers for fall enrollment later in the summer. As such, you should be sure to 1) Make sure that the email listed on your Bridge application is one that that you will use after graduation and that you check often, and 2) keep an eye out for contact from institutions throughout the summer. The application cycle closes in early September, and no offers with be made after this deadline.

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I finished my physics degree 3 years ago, can I apply?

Yes, you can apply even if you completed your bachelor's degree several years ago. If your degree was from further back you may be a bit rusty on your physics and math concepts. We recommend you talk with an advisor or contact us to determine your level of preparation to pursue a doctoral degree.

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I want to get a PhD in Astronomy, am I eligible?

The goal of the program is to increase the number of underrepresented minority students that receive PhDs in physics. If the astronomy program is housed in the physics department, it would result in a physics PhD. Some APS bridge sites offer an astronomy or astrophysics degree within the physics department, however, there may be programs within the additional institutions that we circulate applications that also award an astronomy degree within the physics department.

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I want to pursue medical physics, am I eligible?

The goal of the program is to increase the number of underrepresented minority students that receive PhDs in physics. If the program is housed in the physics department, it would result in a physics PhD. None of the APS bridge sites offer a medical physics program within the physics department, however, there may be programs within the additional institutions that we circulate applications.

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Do I need to have an undergraduate physics degree in order to apply? Can I apply if my major isn't physics?

Students with degrees closely related to physics may apply to the program, but they must have completed many of the advanced undergraduate core physics requirements or their applications will not be considered. These include courses in quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, classical mechanics, and thermodynamics or statistical mechanics. Students without undergraduate physics degree should be sure to include in their application strong reasons for why their studies have prepared them to pursue a PhD in physics.

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I am unsure what area of research I want to pursue, will this count against me?

Bridge Sites use the information provided in the "Research Interest" area of the application in different ways so it would be beneficial for you to look up individual sites and their statements on how they use this information (available through links from Bridge Sites). Sites may use this information in order to determine possible mentor matches and whether your interests align with the research areas that the university has to offer. Being unsure is OK, but you should discuss your research experience and broad interests.

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Will I get a stipend if I am accepted? How much?

As of July 2018, acceptance into Master's and PhD programs at Bridge and Partnership Institutions does not come with funding through the APS Bridge Program, although institutions typically offer financial support. This amount is typically comparable or identical to stipends received by other graduate students. Once they receive graduate program offers, students should consider whether the offered financial support is sufficient for their needs.

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I don't want to leave Texas (or some other area), is there a bridge program in Texas?

The APS Bridge Program only has Bridge sites established in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, and California at this time. Students that do not receive or accept offers from APS Bridge sites will have their applications circulated to APS BP Partnership Institutions for consideration. Given that we had 30 universities with Partnership Status in 2018, the chances that one of these institutions is closer to home is much higher than that of Bridge Sites. Alternatively, you can look into graduate programs closer to home. Many programs have informal bridge programs built into their graduate programs that you might be able to benefit from. We recommend you contact faculty at institutions you are interested in attending.

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Who should I contact if I have more questions?

Additional questions can be sent to bridgeprogram@aps.org, submitted through our Contact Us form or directed to program leadership.

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