Graduate Application and Admission

PhD Candidates Dione Lee Rossiter of UC Santa Cruz and Shaunna Donaher from the University of Miami in front of a specially equipped US Navy CIRPAS Twin Otter aircraft in Iquique, Chile before a flight to study the marine stratocumulus clouds off the coast of South America.

Admission to the Graduate Program in Earth Sciences is competitive. Each year we receive many more applications than there are spaces. Ideal applicants will have an strong undergraduate record with a degree in some branch of Earth Science, Planetary Science, Engineering, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Mathematics, or a related discipline, including considerable quantitative coursework. Honors or a senior thesis are a plus, as are strong writing skills, undergraduate research experience, the ability to work effectively both alone and in a group, and dedication to doing high-quality work.

Applications are evaluated with particular attention to the quality of previous education, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. Applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test; there is no subject test requirement. Please have GRE scores sent directly to the UCSC Division of Graduate Studies. Applicants from countries where English is not the primary language must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum acceptable computer-based TOEFL score is 220; the minimum paper-based TOEFL score is 550.

Prospective applicants should explore the interests of Earth & Planetary Sciences faculty and researchers and contact directly those who might serve as academic and research mentors. This is best way to find out if our program is a good fit to your academic needs and professional ambitions. Unlike other departments who admit a large cadre of students "at large", E&PS admits applicants only if a faculty member or researcher agrees to advise and mentor them. This does not mean that you will be locked in to working with a single advisor, but it means that your chances of admission will be greater if you have contacted one or more faculty members in advance to discuss the graduate program.

The deadline for submission of applications and supporting materials is January 10. Students applying for fellowship support should submit complete applications (transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores, etc.) to the Division of Graduate Studies well in advance of the January 10 deadline. The review of applications is generally completed by March 1. Most offers of admission are prepared and mailed by March 15. Denial letters are sent thereafter. By a general agreement to which UC Santa Cruz and most graduate schools in the United States are signatories, admitted applicants have until April 15 to reply with their acceptance of admission offers.

Application forms, which are available in September for admission in the following fall quarter, may be obtained on-line from the Division of Graduate Studies. The application fee for the 2019-20 academic year is $105 for domestic applicants and $125 for international applicants. This fee can be paid by credit card or e-check (the e-check option is only available if you have a U.S. bank account). Fee waivers are available for Graduate Opportunity Program applicants and for hardship cases. Funds for waivers are extremely limited, but students who feel they are qualified for a waiver should obtain a Request for Graduate Application Fee Waiver from the Division of Graduate Studies to submit with their application for admission.

Questions relating to the evaluation of application files should be directed to:

Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences
Graduate Admissions Committee

Earth and Marine Sciences Building
1156 High Street
University of California
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
(831) 459-2504

Please see the Division of Graduate Studies web site for information on applying online, including submission of transcripts, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and other information.

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