Admission Requirements


The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers graduate programs leading to MSc and PhD degrees in both disciplines. In considering Western, you are making an informed choice for your graduate experience. We believe that our people, facilities and research opportunities are second to none.

We encourage applications from students with undergraduate and/or Master's degrees in physics, applied physics, applied mathematics, astronomy, or other disciplines where students have taken upper level undergraduate and/or graduate level courses in the fundamental areas of physics. 

Applicants to our program are not required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). However, International students and domestic students with degrees from offshore Universities or Engineering degrees are strongly urged to write the GRE-Physics examination. Students who receive a mark with a rank in the upper third of those sitting the exam will be at a decided advantage over their peers for consideration of admission.

Applicants for our MSc programs must have completed a four-year, BSc degree (or equivalent) in either Physics, Astronomy, or Engineering with at least a 70% (or B) average taken over the third and fourth year level undergraduate courses. Students applying for the MSc Astronomy degree are not required to possess an undergraduate degree in Astronomy. A Physics (or possibly Engineering) degree is also acceptable.

Applicants for our PhD programs must have completed an MSc degree (or equivalent) in either Physics, Astronomy or Engineering with at least a 70% (or B) average taken over all MSc graduate courses.

Meeting the minimum standard does not guarantee acceptance. We receive many more qualified applications than our Department can support, hence you are urged to complete your applications as soon as possible.

The ideal candidate for our graduate programs will possess the following:

  • Strong problem solving/critical thinking skills
  • Curiosity
  • Self-motivation & enthusiasm
  • Basic Computational skills (simple programming tasks, analyze data using a computer)
  • Good communication skills or a desire to acquire these skills
  • Bonus: prior research experience
  • Bonus: strong computational/programming skills

 Research-specific skills:

  • Interest in the specific research area (ie: physics of soft squishy things, astronomy, weather/climate)
  • Strong math skills and a desire to use them (for theory/computational work)
  • Interest in tinkering, working with hardware (experimental work)
  • Interest in chemistry (condensed matter, astrochemistry)
  • Statistics background beyond “lab stats” (astrostatistics)

Application Deadline:

  • International Students: March 1, 2020 including the receipt of reference letters and transcripts.
  • Domestic Students: We can accommodate completed applications on a first-come, first-served basis up to August 31, 2020.

 **We recommend that domestic students apply for September admission by January 15, so that they may be given consideration for SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITIES including the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) and internal Western Scholarships. Early applications also allow time for arranging a departmental visit. 

All student acceptances are made by the Graduate Admissions Committee in concert with the student's potential supervisor. Interested students are strongly encouraged to contact potential supervisors in advance of their application. The Research Overview page of the Department of Physics and Astronomy ( is an excellent place to start identifying candidate supervisors.

In addition to the above requirements, non-native English speakers must demonstrate their English proficiency. Options include:

For more options see the SGPS web site (

All graduate courses offered by the Department are in English.

All graduate applications must be submitted through Western's online application system:

The School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies 'applying' web page

Any enquires about admission requirements should be made to:

  • Brian Davis at bdavis66 [at] (519-661-2111 ext 86639).