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Application for Graduate Studies

How to Apply

Application Form

Fee waiver requests are available during the application process.

Graduate School Links

A single, entirely online application form is used that includes information for both the Graduate School and the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences requirements. Hardcopy materials sent through the mail are not accepted. The application must be completed online at: Graduate School Application. For more information on Graduate School policies, see the links in the box at the right.

To fill in the application fully, you will need to have the following information and files:

  1. Names of two potential advisors. It is strongly recommended that students contact potential advisors, well in advance, about research projects before applying. These faculty members can serve as your advocates during the admission process.
  2. PDF files (optically scanned or "printed" to PDF files) of:
    a) Your unofficial college/university transcripts (PDF file size of 5Mb or less),
    b) Your c.v. or resume (PDF file size of 2Mb or less), and
    c) A statement of your interests (PDF file size of 2Mb or less). We recommend including a description of any prior research experience you may have had, as well as a clear statement regarding your career goal(s) and reason(s) why you would like to pursue a graduate degree in EPS at UT.
  3. Your GPA from all colleges/universities previously attended.
  4. GRE scores. These are optional, but recommended if you are eligible, and want to be considered, for competitive fellowship nominations. If you intend to take the test, but do not have scores available, then provide the date when the test will be taken.
  5. Names and email addresses of three people who will serve as your references.
  6. For international students who are not native English speakers, a score for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is needed. International student applications also require more time. For more information, international should review the Graduate School website.

When to Apply

The Graduate School application due dates are February 1st for Fall admission, but students applying for Fall admission into the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences are encouraged to complete their application on or before January 1 for full consideration. Students applying for Spring admission are encouraged to complete their application on or before October 15th. Applications received after the Department or Graduate School dates will be considered on a rolling basis, if additional positions are available.

Graduate teaching assistantships (GTAs) are offered by the Department to exceptionally qualified students on a first-come, first-served basis. GRAs are typically funded by research grants to specific faculty, which is usually a student’s advisor. Consequently, GRAs are offered by the prospective advisors to students who have demonstrated the necessary skills and a high-level of potential for a targeted research project. Contact faculty members directly for more information about possible GRA positions.

No offer of admission or GTA support can be made until your application (Application Information) is complete. Please note that the Graduate School can take from several weeks to process application materials before they are made available to the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. International students may require additional time for the Graduate School to process visa information – for more information, click here.

Admissions Requirements

Students are not normally admitted under non-degree status. Prerequisite for either graduate degree is a bachelor’s degree in the geosciences or other field typically, but not exclusively, from the physical, natural, or life sciences or engineering.

The UT Graduate School requires a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.7 out of a possible 4.0, or a 3.0 during the senior year of undergraduate study. Applicants with previous graduate work must have a GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 point scale or equivalent on all graduate work completed in the United States. If graduate work was completed internationally, then a minimum GPA of 3.3 is needed. For more information, see the Graduate School information, click here.

Any person whose native language is not English must submit a TOEFL or IELTS score. Passing marks for admission consideration are 550, 213, 80, and 6.5 for paper-based, computer-based, internet-based (iBT) TOEFL, and IELTS, respectively. Official scores must be received directly from the appropriate testing service. The University of Tennessee's score reporting code for TOEFL is 1843. The score must not be older than two years. Applicants who have received a degree from an accredited US institution in the past two years are exempt from the TOEFL or IELTS requirement.

The University of Tennessee operates on a three-semester academic year (Fall, Spring, and Summer). Admission to the graduate program in the Department is done primarily in the Fall semester and occasionally in the Spring semester.

Application Review

The EPS Graduate Admissions and Program Committee (GAPC), generally three to five faculty members and including the Director of Graduate Studies, solicits information from faculty in the Department about potential prospective students. The committee reviews applications (US and international) and assembles a list of prioritized applicants that is presented to the rest of the faculty for consideration. As such, admissions decisions are made by GAPC and then approved by the rest of the faculty. During the decision process, faculty consider undergraduate GPA (and graduate, if present), recommendation letter content, prior research experience, and the quality of previous degree programs. The faculty value prior research and/or instructional experiences.

For Fall admission, the Department usually receives around 60-80 applications. Depending on available funding and other resources, in general, about 6 to 10 graduate students are accepted.

Additional Information from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Questions about research programs in specific areas, application delays, or financial aid should be addressed to the Chairman of the Graduate Admissions Committee in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. The Department telephone number is 865-974-2366. The email address is

Additional Information from the Graduate School

For a complete explanation of admission requirements, please refer to the: Application Requirements Posted by the Graduate School and also the UT Graduate School Web Pages.

You may call the Graduate School Office at 865-974-3251 to check on the completion of your application file.

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