Graduate Admissions

Our MA and PhD students investigate earth system processes in the range of disciplines covered by our research faculty. These include tectonics, volcanology, oceanography, surface processes, stratigraphy, structural geology, paleontology, planetary geology, geobiology, and more.

Admission to the graduate program in earth sciences is typically very competitive. The average undergraduate grade point average of all applicants is 3.4 (on a 4.0 scale). Applicants come from both domestic and international institutions. Of those that apply, approximately two-thirds of applicants are currently completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree at their home institution while the remainder are returning to academics from industry, volunteer work, or other research positions. In a typical year, as many as 15% of applicants are granted admission to the program depending on funding levels and research needs.

Our students typically receive graduate employee positions that provide tuition waivers, health insurance, and a stipend. Exceptional applicants will also be considered for the Johnston Fellowship, which includes a $4,000 award in support of research activities to be used at the student’s discretion. This award can be used for research supplies, travel, and conference fees.

Prospective students are encouraged to browse the webpages of individual faculty members and inquire about research opportunities by contacting faculty via email. General inquiries about the graduate program can be sent to the admissions chair, Dr. Diego Melgar. Questions regarding application procedures can be directed to Marla Trox.

Before You Apply

Before you apply for our graduate program:

  • Assess your interest in our professors. While completing the online application, you will select up to three earth science professors whose research is of particular interest to you. To help with this process, please look over their websites to learn about their research interests and read some of their publications. Check out our faculty and their research areas.
  • Plan to verify English-speaking ability (international applicants only). International students must meet the Division of Graduate Study’s English requirement. Find out more.
  • We also recommend these presentation slides from our IgDEAS group full of helpful information on the geosciences application process!

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Application Process and Requirements

To apply for our graduate program, you must complete our online application. You do not have to complete the application in one sitting. You can continue to work on your application until your payment is made or the Dec. 22 deadline passes.

When you submit the application, a non-refundable application fee is typically required (credit, debit, or e-check), but the Division of Graduate Study offers fee waivers and discounts for applicants who satisfy the conditions described on the Division of Graduate Studies website. As of fall 2023, the application fee is $70 for domestic students and $90 for international students.

After submitting, you are able return to your application to view the receipt status of your letters of recommendation. Receipt of exam scores or transcripts cannot be tracked in the University’s systems until after your application has been submitted.

In addition to your application form, you will need to submit:

Personal statement

Upload a one-page statement in which you describe your objectives in applying to the graduate program in Earth Sciences at the UO, your preparation and skills, your personal and academic accomplishments, your scientific interests, and your goals for the future. The statement provides the opportunity for you to inform the admissions committee about any intangibles not represented elsewhere in your application. If there are specific faculty that you are interested in working with, you are encouraged to identify them in the statement.


Upload as a PDF degree transcripts from all colleges/universities where you have studied.

Should you receive an offer of admission and accept, you will need to send official degree transcripts from all colleges/universities where you received a bachelor’s degree and any subsequent degrees. These should be final transcripts, so if you are completing your degree in the spring or summer, wait until your degree is conferred.

Three letters of recommendation

The online application requests contact information for each reference (name, position, institution, email). References will receive an email from us inviting them to fill out our online reference form and upload their letter of recommendation. Throughout the application process, you can return to your application to view which letters have arrived. It is up to you to remind your references to complete this step.

Verification of English language proficiency

This requirement applies to international applicants only. See the Division of Graduate Study webpage for requirements.

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Apply to our Graduate Program

Ready to apply? Start your application on Slate, the centralized application portal for graduate admissions at the University of Oregon.

Apply Now

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Admission FAQs

Further questions? Take a look at our FAQs or contact graduate coordinator Marla Trox.

Is the GRE required for admission?

No. We are no longer considering the GRE in our applications.

Is the TOEFL required for all international applicants?

Proficiency in the English language is vital to the academic success of international students. Foreign students must demonstrate proficiency following the UO Division of Graduate Studies requirements. If taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination for this requirement, please request that ETS send your scores to Institution Code 4846. The departmental and university minimum score for the Internet-based TOEFL is 88. Official scores must be received by the application deadline.

If an international student has received a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a college or university within the United States, the TOEFL is not required.

What is the application deadline?

The online application will close at the end of the day on December 22. You will be unable to complete or submit your online application after that point. Late supplemental materials (letters of recommendation and official test scores) can still be processed after the deadline but will delay consideration of your application.  

Is there an additional form to apply for departmental teaching or research positions?

No additional form is needed.

What about letters of recommendation?

We require three (3) references. Please be prepared to enter the individual’s name, position, institution, phone number and email address. References will receive an automated email requesting that they upload their letter of recommendation to the online application. You can return to your application to view the progress of your letters.

What if the recommendation writer did not receive the automated email?

If the writer did not receive the automated email, you can return to your application and click on the link to have a new email sent. Sometimes entering a different email address for your reference-writer will help the automated message avoid a spam filter.

What are official transcripts? Do these have to be mailed directly from previous colleges/universities?

Official transcripts are ordered from your former or current institution. The Division of Graduate Studies has clear information about what constitutes an official transcript and how they may be delivered to the UO. Official transcripts are only needed if you accept an offer of admission from us.

You will need to upload copies of your unofficial transcripts in PDF format to complete your application regardless of official transcript requirements.

When will decisions be made?

The admissions committee begins reviewing applications immediately after the deadline. All components of an applicant’s materials (including the statement of purpose, grades, and reference forms) are considered in roughly equal proportions when evaluating potential for graduate study. Successful candidates are typically notified by late March. All applicants will receive notification of their final status.

Is there an application fee waiver?

The Division of Graduate Studies offers fee waivers and discounts for applicants who satisfy the conditions described by the Division of Graduate Studies. If you do not qualify for their waivers, it may be possible to ask a faculty member in our department to sponsor the application fee on your behalf.

Has the University received my exam scores or transcripts?

Once you have submitted your application, this information will be available on your application checklist. Test scores are not automatically linked with their applications but are reviewed and updated on a daily basis. The transcripts you upload to your application are sufficient for initial application review, and you will be informed if your official transcripts at the Office of Admissions are not on file when required.

I don't know how applying to a geoscience program in the US works at all. Do you have advice?

One of our student groups created a slideshow to present to undergraduates on this topic. It is very thorough and well worth the time to read through.

If you have additional questions, please contact our graduate coordinator.

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