Application Procedures


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!

Our graduate students hail from all over the world.  They come here because Milwaukee is a great place to live and learn! To find more information on Milwaukee and UWM, see the following websites:

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.


UWM’s Graduate School lists the minimum eligibility requirements including undergraduate GPA and English language proficiency on its 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.  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 entering the graduate program 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.

Graduate program applicants should complete their application by January 15 to be considered for admission the following Fall and September 15 to be considered for admission the following Spring.  These are rolling deadlines (applications will be accepted past the deadline), but applicants who meet this deadline will, if accepted, have first priority for teaching 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).


Most of our graduate students are funded either as a teaching assistant (TA), research assistant (RA), or with a fellowship. All of these positions provide a salary, benefits including access to health insurance, and tuition remission.

Our funded students receive funding for 4 semesters (MS) or 8 semesters (PhD) if they are making good progress towards their degree. The number of open positions varies greatly depending on faculty grant funding (RA) and enrollment in undergraduate geosciences courses (TA). Faculty members with funded RA positions choose the student who best fits that project. TA positions are competitive within the pool of applicants to the entire department.  All positions are offered on a competitive basis based on a student’s record (GPA, letters of recommendation, and experience).

Some students wish to join the graduate program without being offered funding, especially those students who would like to undertake part-time graduate studies.  For those students, we recommend learning about financial aid options through UWM’s Financial Aid Office.

In addition, our department has a variety of additional scholarships and awards that help you afford your graduate education.  Most of our funded graduate students qualify for an additional UWM Chancellor’s Award, which can add to the base salary (usually on the order of $1000-2000 depending on available funds, offered on a competitive basis).  We also provide many opportunities for our students to apply for money to defray expenses for their field or lab research and present work at professional meetings.

Application Process

The entire application should be submitted online at the Graduate School website; 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.  The online Graduate School application can be completed at this address:

The Department of Geosciences no longer requires submission of GRE scores.

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 and research experiences
    • 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
    • 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.
  • 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.  You can learn about their expertise here:

We encourage you to contact the Graduate Committee Chair for more information on our graduate programs and application procedures.

Dr. Julie Bowles
(414) 229-6110