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Programs How to get accepted to a PhD Program in the USA as a foreigner

  1. Aug 17, 2009 #1
    Hello to all of you,

    for a long time i have been reading in your forum and now i decided do post a question on my own.

    As stated in the title, i would like enter a PhD Program at an American University.
    So far i have obtained a (3-year) Bachelors degree and will receive a (2-year) Physics Masters degree next year. Both degrees will have been obtained at a University in Germany, also the country i am originating from.
    All five years of study have been in English language (Lectures, seminars, exercises, exams, all in english).
    My grades are not great, for my Masters i expect to get an average of around 2.3.
    http://www.wes.org/gradeconversionguide/germany.htm [Broken] suggests that this would be an A.

    My major research interests so far are Nonlinear Optics, Electronics and Semiconductor Physics. I have attended a broad range of elective classes. (2 were mandatory, i attended 7).
    Mandatory courses during my course of studies have also included Nuclear Physics, Advanced Quantum Mechanics and Advanced Statistical Physics, amongst others, all of which i have passed and received 8 to 10 Credit points for. I noticed that all those courses are part of most Graduate Studies programs.
    I have not yet taken the GRE Physics test but i suspect that i should score between 800 and 900 points easily. Perhaps even above 900.
    I have read that PhD students finance their studies with teaching assistantships or research assistantships. I found out that Payment for those jobs is around $20,000 per year.

    Now to the questions
    1) Will my University grades matter on application?
    2) How important will the GRE result be?
    3) Since i studied in English, will i have to take the TOEFL test?
    - some Universities do not require that, if i can show that indeed i have studied in English.
    - Is there a general rule?
    4) Will the earnings of such an assistant position be enough money to cover all living expenses?
    5) How much are regular expenses? (Living costs, tuition, ...)
    - i am aware that they vary for each region of the US, perhaps you can just state your place of residence and estimate your monthly expenses
    6) Do you have any suggestions on where to apply?
    - I am not interested in big names.
    - I know very well that i will not be able to get into Harvard, Stanford and such.
    - However i would like a University in a bigger City.
    7) What kind of Visa will i have to apply for?
    8) Will i have to repeat the Classes stated above? (Nuclear Physics, Adv. QM, ...)

    It would be great, if some foreign PhD students could tell me their story. :)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2009 #2
    Still no answer :(.
    Are there no foreigners in an American PhD program?
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