Admissions Process

About the 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 September 1st students can submit an online application through UCI Graduate Division including GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, 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. There is still time to apply!

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 March 15.

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 there a minimum GRE score to apply?

The ESS Ph.D. program does not have a minimum GRE score.

Is a GRE subject test required for admission?

A GRE subject test is not required. 

Where should I send my GRE and 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 GRE and 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, GRE scores, and academic record. GRE scores and GPA are only two components 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. Currently, the average GRE score for an admitted student is Verbal: 155, Quantitative: 160, and Analytical: 4; and the average GPA for an admitted student is 3.41 on a 4.00 grade scale. 

How can I check to see if UCI has received my test scores (GRE or TOEFL) 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?

A faculty advisor is not required to be admitted in to the Ph.D. program, however, students are encouraged to contact prospective faculty advisors about their research interests.

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

Yes, the ESS Ph.D. program hosts a visit day for a select group of U.S. applicants. Students will receive more information directly from the department by February. If prospective students are unable to attend the planned visit day students can request an individual visit. 

Due to visa restrictions international students are typically unable to attend.

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 $32,865, 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 30% of applicants are admitted each year. The typical incoming cohort is 10-13 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.

Other questions?

Please contact: 
Melanie Nakanishi
Student Affairs Manager