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. 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. 


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 an Acceptable English Proficiency credential.
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)
  •  Acceptable English Proficiency credential (if required)
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Resumé / CV
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • transcripts of all course work

The on-line application will require you to enter biographical information, upload scans of your transcripts, enter your  Acceptable English Proficiency credential (if required), 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.  The University of Arizona code for the TOEFL is 4832. 
Applicants to the PSM program are required to submit all the same information. See also: 


Can you tell me more about the Statement of Purpose?

Our statement of purpose does not have a page or word limit. The statement of purpose is your chance to tell our faculty about your development as a scientist and the goals you want to accomplish in graduate school. These links from Berkeley and Cornell provide good tips on writing the statement of purpose.


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 online 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.

Your self-submitted transcripts will be used to evaluate your application for recommendation for admission to the Graduate College. If you are recommended for admission and would like to finalize your admission with the Graduate College, you will need to provide all official transcripts in order to be fully admitted (see next question.)


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(s) you upload to your application. However, you cannot be admitted to the University of Arizona without an official transcript/degree certificate (officially issued by an institution and received at the University of Arizona in an envelope sealed by the issuing institution.  The transcript must contain the official school seal or stamp and the signature of the Registrar.) This means the Department of Geosciences can recommend you to the Graduate College for admission based on your self-submitted transcripts, but your admission cannot be finalized until you send an official transcript.

For international students the process of obtaining these documents could 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. Please read the materials from the Graduate College closely and send them the official document they need to finalize your admission.


Is it possible to send unofficial copies of the Acceptable English Proficiency credential?

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 Acceptable English Proficiency credential/transcripts don’t show as received. 

If you have had your credentials and/or transcripts sent to the University of Arizona, but you cannot see them in your application, please contact the Graduate College Admissions Office at


Should I wait until minutes before the January 5th, 2024, deadline to SUBMIT my application? 

You should work through the application, complete all the sections, and try to submit well before the deadline, so that the department will be available to trouble-shoot any problems you encounter.


Do I need to secure a faculty advisor/supervisor before I submit my application? 

You are welcome to email faculty you are interested in working with but you do not need to secure a faculty advisor before you submit the application. The application will ask you for up to three of our faculty you would like to work with, and a temporary, incoming, faculty advisor will be assigned to you if you are admitted.


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  letters of recommendation to arrive a week or two after that date.


How many graduate students do you admit each year?  

Our graduate program is highly competitive. We received 160 applications for Fall 2019. 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. 


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 2019, we made 28 offers of admission – 13 to MS applicants, 14 to PhD applicants, and 1 to PSM applicants. The group included 15 women and 13 men. We made offers to 4 international students. Overall, the average undergraduate GPA of those admitted was 3.59. 


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 official transcripts sent to us for one year.  Applicants must fill out a new application each year they wish to apply. The Graduate College may retain officially submitted scores for longer than one year.


If I am admitted to your graduate program, can I defer my starting date?

We do not usually defer admissions. We do keep official transcripts for a year. 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 the 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.


What are the tuition costs for a graduate program at University of Arizona?

Please see the University of Arizona cost of attendance web page for graduate students to see basic tuition costs per year for out-of-state students, as well as an estimated costs of attendance for a year including tuition. 


For any further questions, contact the Graduate Program Coordinator:

Phone: (520) 621-6004