Academics | Graduate Admissions FAQ

What are your application deadlines?
We admit students once per year, for the following fall. Applications are due in early January each year, to be considered for the fall semester of that year. You can find the exact deadline on our prospective graduate students page in the Application Information box. We do not have spring admissions.
What graduate programs do you offer?
We offer an MS and a PhD program. The MS is designed as a two-year program, which results in a final thesis or pre-publication article. The PhD is a four-year program, resulting in a dissertation. Applicants to both of these programs are considered for departmental funding.
In addition to these degrees, we also have an Economic Geology Professional Science Masters (PSM). This is a one-year degree designed to provide geologists with the technical and leadership skills required by mineral industries around the globe. Candidates are usually young professionals who have a Bachelor's degree in Geosciences and a job in the minerals industry. This is an unfunded degree program, and successful applicants are expected to have outside sources of support.
Details of our MS and PhD program requirements can be found here:
More information on the Economic Geology PSM can be found here:

I don’t have a Master’s degree – should I apply for your MS or your PhD program?
We do not require that you have an MS degree in order to apply to the PhD. We do not have any set quotas for MS or PhD offers. We want students to be in the degree program that is the best fit for them.
Unlike some other graduate programs, we do not consider our MS a second-class degree. Many of our MS graduates go directly to careers with industry or agencies while others have gone on to complete a PhD in our department or elsewhere. We recommend our MS program for students who have not had the chance to perform much research or field work, as well as for students who are interested in geosciences but do not yet have a concentrated focus on one particular problem or area. Our PhD program is a good fit for students who have both research experience and a very precise focus on their area of interest in the geosciences.
I have a BS degree, but my major was not geosciences. Can I apply for a geosciences degree?
We accept students who majored in fields other than the geosciences.  We expect, however that they have a strong background in the cognate sciences and math, that they have some coursework in geosciences fields relevant to their proposed graduate work here and that they may need to address any course deficiencies early in their program here.
How can I find out if your faculty does research in my area of interest?
Please read about our research areas. Each area includes a list of faculty members with interests in that area. Feel free to contact our faculty directly about their research programs.

You may also want to view our photo gallery to see some of the field areas our students and faculty are working in around the world.

Do you have minimum requirements for admission?
Yes, the University of Arizona requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 based on a 4.0 scale for admission. Students should be near completion of a four-year Bachelor's degree, or a comparable degree.  An MS degree is not required for admission into our PhD program.
Applicants whose native language is not English, or who do not have a degree from an English-speaking university, must submit a minimum TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of 550 paper based (PB), 79 internet based (iBT), or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) composite score of 7 (no subject area below a 6).
There is no minimum score requirement for the GRE – however, admitted students usually have scores in at least the 70th percentile. It is STRONGLY recommended that you take the GRE exam early in case a second attempt is necessary.
For information about these requirements and others start here:

International students also need to review the information here:

What application materials are required?
For MS and PhD:

  • on-line application with the Graduate College (and pay fee)
  • on-line application with the Department of Geosciences
  • GRE scores (no subject test required)
  • TOEFL score (if required)
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Resumé / CV
  • Three letters of recommendation

The on-line application with Geosciences will require you to enter biographical information, upload scans of your transcripts, enter your GRE and TOEFL scores, enter the email addresses of at least three people who will write letters of recommendation, and finally, require you to upload your Statement of Purpose for attending graduate school as well as your resume/CV.  In addition to this on-line information, you will need to have official transcripts sent to the Department of Geosciences, and official test scores sent to University of Arizona.
The University of Arizona code for the GRE and the TOEFL is 4832.

You don’t need a department code to send GRE scores to UA.
Applicants to the PSM program are required to submit all the same information, except GRE scores are not required. See also:

How do my recommenders submit letters of recommendation?
Our on-line application can accept electronic letters submitted by your recommenders. When you enter accurate email addresses for your recommenders and ask the system to notify them, they will receive an email containing a link they can follow to submit your letter of recommendation. At that time, there will be an on-line form for them to fill out, and they will upload their written letter as well. If your recommender does not want to use the on-line system, they can mail a paper letter to the department, fax a letter, or submit an emailed letter to the department.

How can I get unofficial/electronic transcripts to upload to your on-line application?
There are a few different ways you can do this. Our preferred method would be for you to order a transcript from your school, and use a scanner to create a PDF file. If this is not possible, but your school does have on on-line transcript you can access through your student portal, you can save any web page as a PDF file (in most web browsers). In Firefox, for example, go to the File menu, choose Print, and then find the button that says PDF, and choose “Save as PDF.” Our faculty will use these uploaded transcripts to make decisions about your application, so you must make sure your uploads are legible and contain all relevant information.

What do you mean by official transcript?
Please read the guidelines on this page carefully, particularly if you are a non-U.S. applicant:

Do I have to provide an official transcript before admission?
Your application will be reviewed using the unofficial transcript you upload to your application. However, you cannot be admitted to the University of Arizona without an official transcript. This means the Department of Geosciences can recommend you to the Graduate College for admission, but your admission cannot be processed until you send an official transcript.

For international students this can seriously delay admission, and therefore hold up the visa issuing. Providing the required admissions materials is the applicant’s duty and Geosciences cannot be held responsible for delays in admission for students who have not complied with requirements.

Is it possible to send unofficial copies of the GRE and TOEFL scores?
Yes, copies of these scores are fine for initial review while waiting for official scores to arrive.
I attended another university for one semester on a study abroad program (or I have some credit from a community college.) Do I need to supply an official transcript from that school as well as an official transcript from my degree-granting school?
If your official transcript from your degree-granting school shows the course titles and grades from the second school as transfer credit, you do not need to submit an official transcript from the second school. However, please be aware that the Graduate College may request copies of all official transcripts if you are admitted.

My GRE/TOEFL/transcripts don’t show as received. OR My application isn’t showing as materials received. OR Can you check my application and tell me if it’s complete?
All GRE, TOEFL, and transcript must be hand-entered into the back end of the Geosciences application. This is a time-consuming task being carried out by one person with other job duties. Please be patient and do not call or email the Geosciences Graduate Office with these sorts of inquiries until after the application deadline. Your GRE and/or TOEFL scores will not be entered into the Geosciences application until you have submitted both your Geosciences and Graduate College applications. If there are serious problems with your application, you will be contacted after the application deadline by email.

When will my application be reviewed / when will I hear if I’ve been accepted?
If your application is complete by the deadline, it will be reviewed with the first group of applications. We have no set schedule by which we make offers or review all files, but generally, offers of admission will begin to go out two to three weeks after the application deadline. Our application process is fully completed by April 15.
Can I apply for admission to your graduate program after your application deadline?
No, your on-line application with Geosciences must be complete and submitted by the deadline. However, is permissible for some application materials such as official GRE scores and letters of recommendation to arrive a week or two after that date.
Can I take the GRE or TOEFL after the deadline?
Your on-line application with Geosciences must be complete and submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications (missing items such as self-reported GRE or TOEFL scores, or 2 or more letters of recommendation) will not be reviewed, and will eventually be denied for being incomplete. Offers of admission will begin to go out two to three weeks after the application deadline. After all offers are made to complete applications (usually by the end of February), the remaining applications, including incomplete ones, are denied.

How many graduate students do you admit each year?  
Our graduate program is highly competitive. We received 200 applications for Fall 2016. While the number of offers we make varies each year, we usually make offers of admission to 40 or fewer MS and PhD applicants. We maintain application files for one year. Applicants may request their application file be forwarded for reconsideration during the next application year.

How many international students do you admit?
Each year our entering graduate class contains some students from foreign countries.  We welcome applicants from all countries, and we do not have quotas for applicants from any particular country or region.

What kind of students do you make offers to?
For Fall 2016, we made 30 offers of admission – 16 to MS applicants, 12 to PhD applicants, and 2 to PSM applicants. The group included 14 women and 16 men. Overall, the average undergraduate GPA of those admitted was 3.68. The average GRE Verbal percentile was 78%, the average Quantitative percentile was 72%, and the average Analytical Writing percentile was 65%.

If I contact you directly without a formal application, can you give me an informal estimate of my chances for admission to your graduate program?
Unfortunately, we are not able to do this. We typically receive many such inquiries, and we do not have the personnel to consider each one. The previous question in this FAQ will give you some idea of the GPA and test scores of those we admit. In addition, students admitted to our graduate program typically have enthusiastic letters of recommendation from research advisors or undergraduate professors, as well as a compelling Statement of Purpose which shows both scientific maturity and a strong rationale for pursuing graduate research at the University of Arizona.

I submitted an application two years ago and it was declined. Do I need to submit another application to be reconsidered for admissions?
We maintain application files for one year.  Applicants may request their application file be forwarded for reconsideration during the next application year. After one year, a new application must be submitted. The Graduate College may retain officially submitted GRE and TOEFL scores for longer than one year.

If I am admitted to your graduate program, can I defer my starting date?
No, we do not usually defer admissions. We do keep application materials for a year, so students who decline our offer of admission are welcome to reapply in future admissions cycles.

Can you waive your application fee?
Since the application fee is collected by our Graduate College, which oversees the graduate admissions process, the Department of Geosciences is not in a position to waive the application fee.

Is there a separate application for financial assistance?
There is not, as all students who apply to the MS and PhD programs are considered for financial support in the form of teaching/research assistantships or fellowships. Students who apply to the PSM are not considered for funding.

Almost all students admitted to our MS and PhD degree programs are offered financial support. MS students are funded for two years, and PhD students are funded for four years. Along with a stipend for working as a TA or RA, our financial support includes full fee waivers of both in-state and out-of-state tuition, as well as a 100% waiver of the student health insurance premium.

If I am relying on an assistantship to meet the financial guarantee, how should I fill out the financial guarantee form?
Just fill out the personal information at the top of the form, and sign the bottom.

For any further questions, contact the Graduate Program Coordinator:

Phone: (520) 621-6004