Application Procedures – Geological Sciences

Application to the graduate program in the Department of Geological Sciences is made directly to the Graduate School. After applications are submitted to the Graduate School, the Department will make recommendations for admission. Both domestic and international applicants must use the on-line application to apply for graduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. For questions and assistance regarding the on-line application, contact the Graduate School directly at The Department of Geological Sciences believes that diversity provides a richer learning environment. To learn more about diversity at UNC Chapel Hill please see the diversity web site. UNC’s Graduate Student website can be found at To discuss research possibilities, please contact the faculty whose research most closely matches your interest.


The deadline for application to be guaranteed consideration for Graduate School Fellowships and Financial Aid is December 14th. The final deadline for Fall 2022 applications is Feb 8th (for both MS and PhD degrees).

International Applicants

International students must use the on-line application to apply for graduate studies. Additional information and instructions for international applicants may be found at the Graduate School web site ( and at the Office of International Student & Scholar Services ( See the Graduate School web site for more information. If you are unable to apply online or require assistance to do so, you must contact the Graduate School directly at

TOEFL or IELTS scores are reportable for a period of two years from date of the exam. Exam results more than two years old will not be reported by Educational Testing Service (ETS), and thus cannot be considered by the Graduate School. TOEFL scores that are submitted to this institution are kept on file for only one year. If you are currently enrolled at a U.S. institution, you must submit an official transcript or verification of degree candidate status from that institution to qualify for a TOEFL waiver. If the degree or an official verification is not received, the TOEFL score will again be required.

Application Fees

The department has limited amount of fee waivers for those who demonstrate financial need. Please contact your advisor for more information.

GRE Scores

Starting from Fall 2021, the Department of Geological Sciences does not require the report of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE’s).

Additional Required Information

Applicants to the Geological Sciences Graduate Program should ensure that their required personal statement includes the following information:

  • Present fields of interest in geology, reasons for applying to UNC, and future professional plans.
  • Please indicate which faculty member or members most closely align with your research interests.
  • If you are currently enrolled in a degree program, please also provide a list of courses that will be completed prior to entering graduate school.

Students are strongly encouraged to contact faculty members with whom their research interests align for information concerning opportunities for graduate study. The interest, support, and availability of individual faculty members are important components of our decision-making process for admission. It is our expectation that all applicants will have pre-defined areas of research interest and will have been in personal contact with potential graduate advisors prior to their application to the program.

Letters of Recommendation

Admission into the Geological Sciences graduate program requires 3 letters of recommendation. These recommendations should come from individuals who can best describe your academic and/or professional qualifications. All recommendations must be submitted on-line.


One unofficial transcript from each university attended must be uploaded within the application. Please do not mail transcripts as that will significantly delay the processing of your application. If offered admission, one paper official transcript for each university attended will be required at a later date. Unofficial transcripts may be used by the Department only as a preliminary measure in ascertaining admissibility.


Students admitted to pursue a graduate degree in the Geological Sciences normally are expected to have an undergraduate degree in traditional geology, biology, geochemistry, geophysics, physical geography, or other related interdisciplinary fields. Deficiencies are determined by the student’s Graduate Committee.

Course Requirements for the Graduate Degree Candidates

Course requirements will be determined by individual graduate committees, often in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Minimum requirements for the Master’s degree are 30 graduate-level hours including at least three but no more than six hours of thesis research. Doctoral candidates must complete 48 graduate-level hours including 6 hours of dissertation research and no less than 15 hours of course work. See Graduate School’s and Department’s student handbooks for more details.

Financial Support

The graduate program in Geological Sciences typically offers full financial support in forms of teaching and research assistantships to incoming students. Special funds from the Graduate School provide competitive fellowships and assistantships for especially well-qualified students nominated by the department.

Tuition Remission

All graduate students are nominated by the Department for tuition remission awards. These nominations are subject to approval by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. To be eligible, a student must be enrolled full time and be seeking a degree. See the Graduate School web site under eligibility requirements for more details.

Disclaimer Statement

The information provided on this page is specific to this academic program, and is above and beyond the basic admission requirements as established by the Administrative Board of the Graduate School. Applicants are responsible for complying with the basic admission requirements as specified by the Graduate School.