We encourage applicants to our MS and PhD programs. We welcome all who share our intellectual curiosity about the Earth; our diverse community includes people from a variety of intellectual, religious, class, cultural, and political perspectives. We welcome new students!
If you are interested in the graduate program, your first step is to peruse the department’s website to learn about our faculty and research being conducted in the department. Our graduate students are required to work very closely with a faculty research advisor, so it is important to identify a faculty member or members whose interests match your own. It is always a good idea to contact specific faculty to see if they have openings in their research group and available projects for new students.
Minimum eligibility requirements including undergraduate GPA and English language proficiency can be found on the UWM Graduate School website. Please note that these are minimum requirements. Our graduate programs have become very popular, so acceptance is on a competitive process based on the pool of applicants to the Geosciences Department. Meeting the minimum eligibility requirements does not guarantee your acceptance into our program.
We do not have a required set of prior coursework for admission. This is because we recognize that our graduate students come from a wide variety of scholastic backgrounds, some coming from a traditional geoscience major and others coming with backgrounds from related fields. However, most students admitted to our program have BS degrees in Geosciences or closely related disciplines. Their undergraduate preparation includes broad training in geosciences including field training and one year each of college chemistry, physics, and calculus. Most have a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0, with average above 3.5 (4.0 scale).
The admissions committee will carefully examine your academic history and determine whether you have the necessary background to excel in your chosen field of study. These decisions will be different based on your preferred field of study. For example, a student wanting to study geophysics will need undergraduate coursework in physics whereas a student wanting to study paleoecology will likely need some undergraduate coursework in the biosciences. If you are unsure whether your background is likely to meet the eligibility requirements, it is best to contact the professors in your chosen field of study. If the committee decides that you have most of the necessary coursework, but are missing a few key classes, they can recommend admission with a deficiency, and you would be allowed to take those background courses simultaneously with your graduate courses.
Timing and Application Deadline
New graduate students can start either in Fall (September) or Spring (January) semesters. Most new students start in Fall because that is when we typically have the most available openings. However, if you apply for one semester and we cannot fit you in that semester, we can defer your application to the next semester when there may be space.
Fall Admission (starting the following September):
- December 15 to receive full consideration for UWM Graduate Fellowships
- January 15 to receive full consideration for other types of funding (including Teaching and Research Assistantships)
Spring Admission (starting the following January): September 15
The January 15 and September 15 deadlines are rolling (applications will be accepted past the deadline), but accepted applicants who meet deadlines will have first priority for teaching and research assistant support and will receive notification of their acceptance as early as late February (for Fall applicants). Notification of non-acceptance is usually made by May 1 (for Fall applicants).
- Examine faculty research profiles to determine if your interests match our current department expertise. We strongly encourage you to reach out to individual faculty by e-mail to learn about potential research projects, and whether they have openings in their research group. We’re a friendly bunch, so please ask us questions!
- Learn how most students fund their studies. If you would like to be considered for any UWM Graduate Fellowship, contact the Graduate Advisor (firstname.lastname@example.org) and be sure to submit your application by December 15 for Fall admission. (Fellowships are not available during Spring admission, but you can apply later as a continuing student.) It is especially important you contact the Graduate Advisor if you think you are eligible for the Advanced Opportunity Program Fellowship. Many of our incoming students have received this award.
- Complete your application. The entire application should be submitted online at the Graduate School application portal; nothing needs to be sent directly to the department. You can work on the application in multiple sessions, as it will save at each step.
For the application, you will need to:
- Provide required basic information on the online application
- Write a “Reasons Statement.” It is a good idea to write this first and then copy and paste into the application system. Your “Reasons Statement” should be several paragraphs (usually approximately one page) that explains
- Your academic/employment background related to geosciences including relevant coursework, research experiences, and relevant awards
- What you want to do in graduate school (MS or PHD, field of study, specific advisor/s with whom you would like to work)
- Future career goals post graduate school
- Any additional information regarding your experiences that might help us understand your application
- You should also specify whether you would like to be considered for funded TA, RA, and fellowship positions.
- Upload transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended
- Have names and contact information (email addresses) for 3 people who can write recommendation letters on your behalf. It is a good idea to ask recommenders whether they are willing to write your letters first. Usually recommenders are geosciences faculty, but they can also be employers in geologic fields. Once you input the email addresses of your 3 recommenders onto the site, it will automatically send email requests to those recommenders.
- The Department of Geosciences no longer requires submission of GRE scores. You do not need to provide GRE scores.
- Pay $75 application fee directly on website
- For international students, please see UWM’s Center for International Education for additional admissions requirements including how to demonstrate English language proficiency and how to submit transcripts that are not written in English.
More information about the application process can be found on the Graduate School Website.
For Questions and More Information
For questions about particular research areas or projects, please contact any of our faculty. We encourage you to contact the Graduate Committee Chair for more information on our graduate programs, available funding, and application procedures.
Dr. Julie Bowles