Graduate School Application

An Overview

Students entering the PhD program who have pursued an MS at another institution should have the degree in hand before beginning study at UW–Madison. A BS or BA is required. Graduate students may enter the department with a bachelor’s degree in geology or a related earth science, or some other field relevant to the intended field of specialization. As of June 2020, the GRE is no longer required for prospective graduate students.

Minimum standards

Often minimum standards are completed at the time of application, but this is not a hard requirement. Course deficiencies should be removed before enrollment.

  • 1 or 2 semesters in each of the following areas, for a total of no less than 5 semesters: calculus, chemistry, physics
  • GPA must be a minimum of 3.0 on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours of the undergraduate record. The average GPA of applicants offered positions with funding in the last three years was 3.64.
  • An English proficiency test is required for students for whom English is not the first language and who have not attended an institution with English-language instruction. See Grad School requirements.

Note: The hydrogeology program requires a minimum of 12 credits of geology if the applicant has a major in a field other than geology.

Application deadline

The application deadline is January 4 annually for those interested in Department support. This deadline applies both to the university application and the items to be submitted to the department.

Admission for other sessions are on an individual basis and must be approved through an individual faculty member.

How to Apply

Applicants should check the Graduate School admissions requirements.

  1. Complete Graduate School Application form:
    • Application fee should be paid directly to the Graduate School. If the fee is a burden, discuss with your faculty contact. The department may have funding available for fee waivers.
    • A statement of purpose for graduate study must be submitted through the online UW–Madison Graduate School application. A CV or resume is also required.
    • Three letters of recommendation are required.
    • Uploaded copies of all transcripts. These can be unofficial copies.
    • Supplemental Application: As part of the online application, you will also need to complete the Supplemental Application required by the Geoscience Department. The Supplemental Application asks that you indicate your top three areas of interest, to list the faculty members with whom you’d like to work, and to answer some short prompts about your research and/or preparation for graduate work. It also asks that you upload a transcript from each post-secondary institution you have attended. If your application is recommended for admission, we will then ask you to send official copies.
  2. TOEFL, IELTS, or METLAB Scores (for international students).


Department of Geoscience
University of Wisconsin–Madison
1215 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53706
Phone: (608) 262-9266

Financial Support

Financial support is available to the most highly qualified applicants. A completed application file serves as an application for Department financial support and the Department will contact the best applicants about opportunities for funding. You are considered for either a Teaching Assistantship, Research Assistantship, or Project Assistantship (2023-2024 academic rate is $25,555). All appointments include excellent health care benefits and remission of non-resident and resident tuition. All students are required to pay segregated fees: $761.52/semester for 2022-23. Read more about Grad School funding.

We also want to draw your attention to other benefits that are made available through generous gift funds to any graduate student who is in good standing within the Department. First, the Department will support your travel to scientific meetings; in a typical year a student may receive up to $600 to this end. Second, as a back-up to your own applications to organizations such as the Geological Society of America, Sigma Xi, and AAPG, the Department provides support for field and laboratory components of your research. In a typical year, eligible students earn research support of $2,400 on average. Learn more on our Graduate Funding webpage.

International Applicants

International applicants whose native language is not English are not eligible for teaching assistantships during their first year of graduate work. Exceptions to this eligibility criterion for non-native speakers can be made if the student’s undergraduate degree was obtained from an English-speaking university, if the student obtained an M.S. from an English-speaking university, or if the student completed other undergraduate or graduate study for a period of at least one year in a country where the native language and the language of the instruction at the university is English. The SPEAK Test is required if you plan to be a teaching assistant. International students are eligible for research assistantships but these are available only through individual professors in their area of specialty, and each student must contact the professors on an individual basis. More information on financial help for international applicants is available at the Grad School’s website.