Application Process

To Apply

The deadline for Fall Semester admittance for financial aid is January 5 of the same year.

We welcome applications from students interested in pursuing graduate degrees at the M.S. and Ph.D. levels. Interested students should browse our web pages and faculty research pages to make sure we’re a good fit for your specific research interests.

We also recommend you contact the UMD faculty member(s) you are interested in working with to discuss possible research directions and projects with them.


Most candidates for advanced degrees have completed a bachelor’s degree in geology, geophysics, or a related field. Students in other fields of natural science are encouraged to apply. Applicants should have at least one year of calculus, chemistry, and physics. Field camp and/or undergraduate research experience is recommended.

M.S. Application Procedure:

All materials are submitted electronically through the online application system. A decision for admission will be emailed to you after your application has been carefully reviewed by the department's admission committee and your transcripts and any credentials (test reports, diploma copies, etc.) have been authenticated by Graduate School officials.

You can expect a decision in March.


  • A four-year B.S. degree in geology or a related field in engineering, basic science, or mathematics is required. A grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is preferred.
  • Students whose native language is not English are required to submit scores from one of the following English proficiency examinations. Examination minimum scores are: TOEFL 550 (paper based) or 79 (Internet based)and MELAB 80< IELTS 6.5.
  • In general, we admit graduate students for fall semester only. Under unusual circumstances students will be allowed to begin their studies at another time of the academic year (Spring semester in January).

Note: Effective Fall 2020, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required for admission.

Information requested electronically in the online application:  

  • Personal Statement
  • Diversity Statement
  • Writing Sample (Optional)
  • Resume / CV
  • Unofficial Transcript
  • Financial Support
  • 3 Recommendation Letters

All other fields or application materials are optional, but will be taken into consideration if submitted.

Personal Statement Guidance

Personal Statement for Graduate Admissions

A personal statement for a graduate application in Earth Sciences M.S. program should provide a compelling and well-structured 1 to 2 page narrative that highlights the applicant's qualifications, motivations, and potential contributions to the program. Here is a summary of the key information that the Earth and Environmental Sciences department would typically expect to see in such a personal statement. It is important to tie this information together into a cohesive, well-written personal statement essay as a cornerstone of your application to our program. 

Academic Background:

Highlight your academic achievements, including your undergraduate degree, major, and any relevant coursework.  Discuss any research projects, thesis work, relevant coursework, or life experiences that demonstrates your academic preparedness for the program.

Research Interests:

Clearly articulate your research interests within Earth and Environmental Sciences. Discuss any prior research experiences, internships, or projects that have shaped your interests, and/or explain why you are passionate about these topics.

Motivation and Goals:

Explain your motivations for pursuing a master's degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences. Discuss your long-term career goals and how the program will help you achieve them. 

Why This Department:  Explain why you are interested in the Earth and Environmental Sciences department at UMD.  Mention specific professors, research centers, or resources that attract you to the program and why.

Relevant Experience, Leadership, and Teamwork:

Highlight any additional relevant work experience, internships, or volunteer activities related to your field of study. Include any experience you have with teaching. We are particularly interested in experiences that highlight your leadership skills and how well you work in teams. 

Unique Qualities and Skills:

Describe any unique qualities, skills, or life experiences that set you apart from other applicants.  Feel free to explain experiences where you have had to overcome challenges in your life.

Application fees

Uploading transcripts and credentials: Unofficial transcripts or academic records should be uploaded directly in the on-line application.  DO NOT mail in transcripts.

Additional Information on Recommendations

A minimum of three recommendations will come from current or former professors who can assess your potential for graduate work. Other recommenders, such as employers, are also acceptable.  No paper copies of recommendations are accepted.

Ph.D. Application Procedure:

A student must formally apply and be accepted through our sister department in the Twin Cities. In your application you must indicate your desire to work with an advisor on the Duluth campus. Therefore, before submitting an application, please contact the UMD faculty member(s) you are interested in working with, and discuss possible research directions and projects with them.

Students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. degree on the Duluth campus should also contact our Director of Graduate Studies. For specific information, application procedures and forms regarding the Ph.D. program, please visit the Twin Cities Department of Earth Sciences website.

Financial Aid

The deadline for Fall Semester admittance with finance assistance is January 5.

If you wish to be considered for financial aid from the Department in the form of Teaching Assistantship, Research Assistantship or Graduate Fellowship, please indicate this in your application. Be sure to identify the Earth & Environmental Science program in the area for potential sources of aid.

To help the Committee evaluate financial aid requests, please provide the following under Program Supplementary Information:

(1)   Teaching experience, including a list of courses you taught and the level

(2)   Research experience, including a brief description of your work

(3)  Three Relevant work experiences.  Upload these in a single PDF document under Graduate Program Additional Application portion of the Program Supplementary Information section.