FAQs for the Earth Sytem Science (ESS) Graduate Program

Admissions Process
Am I eligible to apply to the ESS Ph.D. program?

To be eligible for admission students must meet the admissions criteria listed on the UCI Graduate Division Admissions website. Recommended background for the Department of Earth System Science is listed on the Admission section of this site.

How do I apply?

Beginning October 1 students can submit an online application through UCI Graduate Division including three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, personal history statement, and an English proficiency test for international students. 

Submit one unofficial transcript for every post-secondary institution you have attended directly through the graduate application portal. 

When is the application due?

December 1st; however, we accept applications on a rolling basis through February 1.

Can I apply after December 1st?

Applications will be reviewed beginning December 1, and admission offers will be made on a rolling basis. Applicants are encouraged to apply by December 1 for the best chance of admission.  The final deadline for applications is February 1.

Can I apply for winter or spring quarter admission?

The ESS Ph.D. program does not accept students for winter or spring quarter admission.

Is the GRE required?

Beginning Fall 2021, the ESS department does not require the GRE.

Is a GRE subject test required for admission?

A GRE subject test is not required.

Where should I send my TOEFL scores?

Scores must be reported directly to UCI from ETS. The UCI institutional code for ETS score reporting is 4859. You do not need to include a department code, the Department of Earth System Science will receive your scores regardless of what department code you enter.

What is the average GPA of admitted students?

The Earth System Science Ph.D program considers many factors when reviewing graduate applications. These factors include but are not limited to research experience, letters of recommendation, and academic record.  GPA is only one component of the review process and cannot solely be used to determine a student’s academic aptitude or likelihood of admission in to a Ph.D. program.

How can I check to see if UCI has received my test scores and/or letters of recommendation?

After you complete and pay for your application and Graduate Division processes your application (which can take up to one week), you may check to see if your scores and/or letters of recommendation have been received by using the Application Progress Review.

Is a faculty advisor required for admission in to the ESS Ph.D. Program?

Students will be assigned a provisional advisor at the time of admission. Students are encouraged to contact prospective faculty advisors about their research interests.

Does the ESS Ph.D. Program host visit days for prospective students?

The Department will offer a virtual information session for prospective applicants in late October or early November. To get on the mailing list to learn more about that event, click here. Information about our formal visit day will be sent to invited students directly.

Is the personal history statement required?

Yes, the personal history statement is required.

What's the difference between the statement of purpose and personal history statement?

The statement of purpose focuses on your scientific aspirations. It should explain your research interests, long-term career goals, and why you want to pursue the PhD. The personal history statement should focus on your personal background and any challenges or obstacles you may have encountered in your academic journey and how you overcame them.

Is a minimum English-proficiency score required?

For the TOEFL, a minimum of 80 is required. For the IELTS, an overall minimum of 7 and no less than 6 on any module is required. Additionally, we prefer to see a speaking score of 26 on the TOEFL or a speaking score of 8 on the IELTS. If you meet the minimum cumulative score, but not the speaking score, you're still encouraged to apply.

About the ESS Graduate Program
Does the program have scholarships or fellowships available?

Yes, all admitted students (including international students) are fully-funded. This includes a moving allowance, an annual stipend of $37,000 tuition and fees, and UCI health insurance.

Does UCI have on-campus housing for graduate students?

Yes, students who are admitted to the Earth System Science Ph.D. program are eligible for a guaranteed offer of on-campus housing. To be eligible for this guarantee students must respond to Housing prior to their deadline at the beginning of May. Please refer to the Graduate & Family Housing website for specific information.

How selective is the Earth System Science Program?

Approximately 40% of applicants are admitted each year. The typical incoming cohort is 12-16 students.

What is the typical time to degree for the ESS Ph.D. Program?

5 years

Can I schedule an individual visit to the ESS department?

Typically, we are unable to schedule individual department visits for students before they apply. During the application process the department hosts a prospective student visit day and individual visits for invited students, please see above question on visit day for more information.

Does the Department of Earth System Science have a terminal master of science (M.S.) program?

The Department of Earth System Science does not have a terminal master’s degree program. Emphasis at the graduate level is on the Ph.D. degree; the master’s degree may be awarded to Ph.D. students after fulfillment of the requirements.

The Department of Earth System Science acknowledges our presence on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Acjachemen and Tongva peoples, who still hold strong cultural, spiritual and physical ties to this region.