Graduate Program Admissions

Important Notes:

  • Department application deadline is DECEMBER 15 for admission in fall the following year. All application materials must be submitted by December 15th.
  • Application and all supplementary materials are submitted online through the Graduate Admissions Office. The department will not see your materials until after you have officially submitted your application.
  • Do NOT submit GRE scores. The department does not require nor review GRE scores for admission.
  • If you have any questions about these procedures, please contact Jennifer Petrie,


Admission into the program requires that a faculty member agrees to be your advisor.  So, before you begin the application process, please review the research areas and faculty members in the department, then contact the faculty member(s) directly with whom you wish to work.

Application Instructions


  1. Contact potential advisor.  All ESci Faculty can serve as advisor; Graduate Faculty members outside the department may have limited advising capabilities.

  2. Review Graduate Admissions application instructions.

  3. Start Online Application - required

  4. Upload Transcripts - required
    - Under the Academic History section in the online application.
    - Legible copies of unofficial transcripts can and should be uploaded.
    - The department reserves the right to ask for more official transcripts if the unofficial copies are illegible.
    - Students who are offered admission will be required to submit official transcripts to the Graduate Admissions Office.

  5. Upload Personal Statement/Statement of Purpose - required
    -There is no word count!
    -Under Materials section in the online application

  6. Statement #2 - Diversity - optional
    - Under Materials section in the online application.
    - Diversity statement is not required, however if you feel you can contribute to the diversity of the University's graduate student body, please feel free to submit a statement.

  7. Three (3) Letters of Recommendation - required
    - Review information on recommendation letters on the Graduate Admissions website.
    - Applicants request letters from referees via the online system.
    - Referees submit letters through online application.
    - Letters are due December 15th.

  8. Additional Materials - optional
    - Under Materials section in the online application.
    - Examples: CV, abstracts, lists of teaching/research experience, publications.

  9. English Language Proficiency - required*
    - International and domestic applicants whose first language is not English must provide proof of English language proficiency.
    - Review English Language Proficiency on Graduate Admissions website.
    - TOEFL Scores - electronic upload through ETS using institution code 6874.
    - Total Score: 79
    - Writing sub-score: 21
    - Reading sub-score: 19

  10. Submit application and pay the application fee.
    - Once application has been submitted, applicants can not make changes. If additional or corrected materials need to be submitted, please contact Jennifer Petrie.
    - A waiver of the application fee may be available for some U.S. applicants (click here for details; this is not available to international applicants). 

Department Admissions Policies

  • Relocations funds will be provided to admitted students who accept our offer.
  • Do NOT submit GRE scores. The department does require GRE scores for admission.
  • Most candidates for advanced degrees have completed a Bachelor's degree in geology, geophysics or in the broad field of earth and material sciences.  However, applications from students in fields such as chemistry, physics, biology, or environmental science are strongly encouraged.
  • In general, an outstanding academic record is expected.
  • In all cases, a faculty member must agree to act as advisor before admission can be recommended to the Graduate School.  Therefore, when you find a particular area of research that interests you, it is highly recommended that you contact the professor(s) directly. (Areas of Study and Research).
  • The Statement of Purpose and letters of recommendation also play an important role in the admission process.
    • The needs and wishes of the applicant are considered. However, sometimes we do not offer the desired specialty in this department, or the faculty member in that specialty cannot accept additional students.  Applications are reviewed individually with due consideration for any special circumstances.
  • Application for admission will be considered at any time, but most applications for fall semester admission are received during the preceding September through December.  Applicants wishing to be considered for financial aid must have all application materials for both admission and financial aid submitted by the December 15 deadline.

(copied from the Graduate Admissions web site)

  • The TOEFL or IELTS is generally required of all applicants whose native language is not English, regardless of U.S. Citizenship status.* The operational standards for admission to the University of Minnesota are listed below.
  • The Twin Cities and Rochester campus TOEFL institutional code is 6874.
  • The Duluth campus TOEFL institutional code is 6873.
  • Please note that test scores may not be available for 4-6 weeks after you take the test, and plan accordingly.
  • Official scores will be required prior to enrollment or before we issue visa documents. 
  • All English language test scores are valid for two years from the date the test was taken. 


Operational Standard


Internet based test 79 or above with section scores of 21 on writing and 19 on reading



*Applicants who have completed 24 quarter credits/16 semester credits (within the past 24 months) in residence as a full-time student at a recognized institution of higher learning in the United States or other English-speaking country before entering the University of Minnesota are generally exempted from this requirement.

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What if I miss the December 15 deadline?

An incomplete file generally places an applicant at a disadvantage, and an applicant may not receive financial aid. If you know that you will not be able to meet the deadline, it is best to contact the Director of Graduate Studies and explain your situation.

If I am applying for Spring of the next year, do I have to adhere to the December 15 deadline?

As the financial aid is decided for an entire academic year, it is in your best interest to adhere to the December 15 deadline.

What if I want to work with a faculty member in Duluth?

Duluth has its own Masters program, and applicants for a Duluth MS apply directly to UM-Duluth.  However Ph.D. candidates who wish to work with a member of the Duluth faculty must apply through the Twin Cities and meet the same requirements.  More information about the Duluth geosciences department is available on their website.

What if I don't know exactly what area of Earth Sciences I want to study?

  • Here are some recommended steps to help you think about your possible fields of interest and whether or not they match with what we do here at Minnesota:
    • Communicate with potential faculty advisors in advance to discuss research interests and possibilities. Examine the departmental web pages or other informational materials to read about faculty research interests and determine which faculty member(s) you want to contact. Send them an email telling them about yourself and asking questions about possible graduate research opportunities.
  • When you write your personal statement as part of the formal application, note as specifically as possible the geoscience fields in which you are most interested. We recommend that you also indicate the names of potential faculty advisors in your statement, so that you can be sure that the appropriate faculty members examine your application.

Can the application fee be waived?

Fee Waivers

Can I receive a waiver for the application fee?

The department is glad to provide need-based application fee waivers to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who cannot afford the application fee. This is not available to international students at this time.

Fee waivers are also given to McNair Scholars, applicants who have presented at Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), or Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCAMS) conferences or are student members of those organizations. McNair Scholars, please directly contact the University of Minnesota Graduate School at McNair Scholar Resources.

We also encourage applicants to seek external sources of support to cover application fees. For example, the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) FreeApp program offers fee waivers for selected individuals. To receive the BTAA fee grant, a student must have participated in one of these programs: McNair Scholars, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Minority Biomedical Research Support Program (MBRS)-Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement Program (RISE)(MBRS/RISE), Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), Meyerhoff Scholars Program, North Star STEM Alliance, or Career Opportunities in Research (COR).

Eligible applicants may also find fee waivers and other benefits through programs such as the GEM Consortium.

All other requests for an application fee waiver should be sent by email to the, with a brief statement explaining your situation. Attach to that email a transcript (an unofficial one suffices) and, if applicable, copies of recent financial aid awards or similar evidence for financial need. Any questions about fee waivers are welcome.

Can I defer payment of the application fee until the department makes a decision?

No, the application fee cannot be deferred. You must submit the application and pay the fee by December 15.

Can I have a friend or relative in the United States pay the application fee for me?

Yes. The payment must be made by credit card.

Do you have advice on how to apply?