Skip to main content

Apply to Materials Science PhD Program

Welcome graduate applicants! We are pleased that you are applying for admission to the Materials Science PhD program in the Applied Physical Sciences department.

Interested students must submit a completed application through the UNC Graduate School website.

Apply Now

If you have any questions regarding application to our program, please contact the APS Student Services Manager at

Important Dates

Applications Open: August 15, 2023
Priority Application Deadline for Graduate School Fellowships: December 13, 2023
Graduate School Application Deadline: Applications will be considered up until May 9, 2024, but it is strongly recommended to submit the application prior to February 7, 2024.

Instructions for Graduate Applicants

Each offer of admission is specific for the term stated in the admission letter. If you do not register for classes you must apply again in a subsequent semester; application materials that are submitted to this institution are kept on file for one year after the term for which you are applying. Applications will not be accepted for review or consideration after the posted graduate program deadline has passed.

The Graduate School relies mainly on email to communicate with all applicants. Therefore, please include a current email address on your application and be sure to promptly respond to all correspondence.

For international students: International applicants should apply early in order to allow sufficient time for financial and visa document preparation. All international applicants should see below for more details.

Application Requirements and Deadlines


Program Degree Major Code Admissions
Term Deadline
Doctoral Ph.D. MTSC Spring  October 11, 2023
  • Round 1: December 13, 2023 (Applicants are encouraged to submit their applications by this deadline if they want to be considered for Graduate School Fellowships)
  • Round 2: February 7, 2024 (Priority Deadline)
  • Round 3: May 9, 2024
Fall Graduate School Fellowships December 13, 2023
Director of Graduate Studies Rene Lopez (
Address Department of Applied Physical Sciences
1129 Murray Hall, CB 3050
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3050
Phone 919-843-9334
Application Fee $95.00 (non-refundable, paid to the Graduate School upon application completion, information about fee waivers here)
Test Requirements GRE not required
Transcripts One unofficial transcript from each university attended must be uploaded within the application. All unofficial transcripts must be uploaded to your application in order for your application to be reviewed. Please do not mail transcripts as part of your admission application; we only accept unofficial uploads for application evaluation. If you are offered admission, one official transcript for each university attended will be required prior to the first day of the term.
Letters of Recommendation 3
International Applicants Only TOEFL or IELTS score, no more than two years old.(UNC Institution Code – #5816)
Completed financial certificate
Other Requirements In addition to the University’s required application materials, applicants should review the information below for additional expectations or application requirements.

  • Areas of Interest: Please indicate up to three areas of interest within the application.  The following research areas are offered by the Applied Physical Sciences department:
    • Energy & Water
    • Soft Matter & Living Systems
    • Materials Science & Engineering
    • Instrumentation & Light-matter Interactions
    • Translational Engineering
    • Computation
  • Faculty Interest:  Please list at least two, and up to five, faculty members with whom you are interested in conducting research.  For a list of Applied Sciences faculty, please visit and review the faculty listing website via
  • Statement of Purpose:  Please upload a statement describing your research interests and career goals.
  • Essay:  Please upload an additional essay describing your research and employment experience (e.g., research courses, individual projects, honors theses, internships, and employment).  Also, please describe relevant experience not reported elsewhere, such as special coursework or experiences.

Minimum Graduate Admission Requirements

Our minimum requirements are:

A bachelor’s degree, based on a four-year curriculum, completed before graduate study begins, or its international equivalent with an accredited institution

An average grade of B, cumulative GPA 3.0, or better

Along with these minimal requirements, admission decisions are based on a number of factors, including academic degrees and record, written statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, test scores, and relevant work and research experience. All admission recommendations are made by each individual program or department.

Fellowship and Financial Aid Deadlines

UNC-Chapel Hill is one of the most affordable public research universities for graduate education. Take a look at how the cost of living in Chapel Hill, NC compares to peer universities across the nation.

Most of the financial support available to graduate students is based within individual programs. In addition, a limited amount of financial support is available from The Graduate School and is based upon nominations from individual programs. In order to allow sufficient time for our program to nominate you for Graduate School fellowships, your application should be received before December 13, 2023.

Our program will still continue to accept applications after December 13, 2023, and you may still be eligible for program-based support. Contact our Director of Graduate Studies for questions about available graduate student financial support and relevant deadlines.

The University awards loans and Tuition Enhancement Grants to graduate students who qualify, based on information provided in the FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, form due March 1. For more information, please visit the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid.

Letters of Recommendation

Three current letters of recommendation from persons qualified to evaluate your academic and professional qualifications are required. You should solicit recommendations from individuals who are familiar with your academic achievement and who can address your potential for success in this particular academic setting. If you have been out of school for a number of years and are unable to contact former professors, letters from other individuals who can address your achievement and potential will be accepted. We advise against using generic letters of recommendation such as those provided by campus career planning and placement offices. Please see the information and instructions specific to your intended program for more information.

The online application will prompt you to submit the names and email addresses for your three required recommenders.

Email invitations will be sent to recommenders once you select ‘Save’ in the online application. You can also update recommender information and send reminder emails to your recommenders within the online application.

Campus Safety Information

Applicants for admission will be asked several questions regarding criminal pleas, charges and convictions, academic suspensions, and military discharges. If additional information is needed, you may be asked to submit information for a criminal background check, including a nominal fee. You must describe violations of law in your home country and in any other country in which you have resided. The term “law” includes codes, legal rules and regulations, and other criminal-type statutes or violations of municipal, local, provincial, state, federal, national, commonwealth, and other governmental jurisdiction. Failure to provide complete, accurate, and truthful information will be grounds to deny or withdraw your admission, or to dismiss you after enrollment. The same actions will occur if you fail to notify The Graduate School promptly in writing of such charges that occur at any time after you submit the application.

Application Status

Once we have received all required application materials and fees, the review and evaluation of your application will begin. You may monitor the status of your application checklist through the UNC application website.

It is your responsibility to monitor your application for completeness by logging into your application and checking your application status. If your official test scores do not appear as received within two weeks of submitting your application, please email

You will be able to upload one optional, updated unofficial transcript from your current institution, if applicable, after submitting your application. Additionally, you may be asked to upload specific additional materials through your application status page after submission. The Graduate School cannot alter any application materials once your application is submitted. If you would like to send new information or updated documents to the academic program to which you applied, please contact the program directly.

For International Applicants

UNC Graduate School Institution Code: #5816 — No Department Code

Together with the instructions above, international applicants are also required to submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores as part of their application. These scores must be no more than 2 years old! The Graduate School understands it is difficult and sometimes confusing to apply to universities in another country, and we will assist you in clarifying requirements whenever possible.

All international applicants must submit acceptable, official TOEFL, reported directly from ETS, or IELTS, reported directly from IELTS, scores. We accept no other English Language tests.

We recommend that you plan to take any required exams no later than October to allow time for scores to arrive in time for consideration for fall admission. If you have taken your test but would like to report a new score after the application deadline has passed, you still can submit your application with the existing test score and indicate your future (estimated/confirmed) test date under the Test Scores section of the online application.

Standardized test scores must be official and are reportable for a period of two years from the date of the exam. Exam results more than two years old cannot be considered.

Standardized test scores that are submitted to this institution are kept on file for one year after the term for which you are applying.

When you register for any tests, you should indicate the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School as a score recipient. If you did not specify the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School as a score recipient at the time of taking the test, you must promptly ask to send your scores to us. While self-reported scores are useful for informal evaluation, the official report of your scores must arrive before final review and admission can be offered.

The required minimum total score on the exams are:

The internet-based TOEFL exam = 90

The IELTS exam = 7

Some programs have their own minimal score requirements which are higher than those stated above, in which case these higher standards will be required.

Exceptions to the English Standardized exams are available for the three categories listed below:

1. Applicants from countries where English is the SOLE OFFICIAL language of instruction. These countries are Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada-except Québec, England, Ghana, Ireland, India, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Nigeria, Scotland, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad, Tobago, Uganda, and Wales.

2. Applicants who have received or will receive a degree from an accredited university in the United States. You must upload an unofficial transcript showing degree awarded or in progress, or a letter from your Registrar or Dean verifying your degree candidate status from that institution within the online admissions application. If you are offered admission, the official transcript must be received, or the English exam scores will be required to enroll.

3. Applicants who have received or will receive a degree from an accredited university where English is the SOLE language of instruction. If you are a degree candidate in a university where English is the SOLE language of instruction, along with your request, you must submit an official verification from that university that English is the SOLE language of instruction along with your anticipated date of graduation. If the degree or an official verification is not received, the English exam scores will again be required.


Applicants in category 1 will automatically receive the exception. If you believe you qualify for a waiver of the English standardized exam under categories 2 or 3, you must indicate this request and upload the appropriate documentation within the online admissions application.

All newly admitted international students will be reviewed for their level of English proficiency prior to enrolling for classes. You will receive communications from the University regarding English language, writing, and speaking support services to support your transition to our campus.

Financial Certification

International applicants who are offered admission to a graduate program are required by United States federal regulations to certify that you have sufficient funds to pay for your expenses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the entire length of your studies. Every international applicant offered admission, including applicants who may receive teaching or research assistantships or other awards, must complete and upload the International Student Data Form and Financial Certification Instructions/Worksheet to their ConnectCarolina Student Center after being offered admission. The Office of International Student and Scholar Services, ISSS, will send you information and instructions for completing and uploading these forms in order to document that you meet necessary financial requirements. ISSS will then send you the appropriate documents to use in obtaining or updating your visa once it has been determined that you have met the necessary financial requirements.

International applicants in need of financial aid may write to the Institute of International Education, 809 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, or review the IIE website.

The University’s Office of Scholarships and Student Aid can only fund students who are U.S. citizens, nationals, permanent residents with I-151 or I-551 Alien Registration Receipt Cards, permanent residents of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Trust Territory or the Pacific Islands, and other non-citizens who have Arrival-Departure Records, I-94, showing “refugee” or “adjustment applicant” or official grant of asylum in the United States. Students who meet these requirements should apply for financial assistance before March 1.

For any additional questions, please review our Admissions Office Contacts.