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Application Procedures

To apply to the Earth and Marine Sciences graduate program, all applications should be completed online through the UNC Graduate School web portal

After applications are submitted to the Graduate School, the EMES Department reviews applications and will make recommendations for admission. For questions and assistance regarding the online application, contact the Graduate School directly at

It is strongly recommended that prior to completing an application you reach out to faculty members in the department whose research matches your interests to discuss opportunities for new graduate students.

Dates and Deadlines

  • mid-August – The Graduate School begins accepting applications for Fall 2024 admission
  • December 12, 2023 – Application deadline for full consideration
  • Mid-February, 2023 – First round of offers sent
  • April 15, 2023 – Deadline for accepting or declining first round offers
  • June 11, 2024 – Final deadline for submitting an application

Application Fee Waivers

If the application fee makes it difficult for you to apply to the Earth and Marine Sciences graduate program, you can request a fee waiver by emailing the Director of Graduate Admissions ( The email should include 2-3 sentences explaining the reasons you wish to apply to the program and the faculty member with whom you would work, and 2-3 sentences explaining why the application fee is a barrier to you applying to our program.

Note that a fee waiver will only be approved if an applicant’s prospective advisor in EMES confirms that they have communicated with the applicant and they are a viable fit for a new graduate student opportunity in their research group. You will be notified whether the fee waiver is approved or denied within 1 week.

GRE Scores

Application to the Earth and Marine Sciences graduate program does not require the report of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE’s).

Areas of Specialization

On your application, you must select an area of specialization that you are interested in pursuing as a graduate student. Possible areas of specialization are:

  • Biogeochemical Processes
  • Biological Oceanography
  • Chemical Oceanography
  • Environmental Fluid Dynamics
  • Geochemistry
  • Geochronology
  • Hydrology
  • Marine & Coastal Geology
  • Marine Ecology
  • Microbial Ecology & Molecular Biology
  • Paleoclimatology & Paleoecology
  • Physical Oceanography
  • Seismology, Volcanology
  • Structural Geology
  • Tectonic Geomorphology

Statement of Purpose

Applicants to the Earth and Marine Sciences graduate program should ensure that their required statement of purpose includes the following information, as specified in the Graduate School application:

  1. Describe your background and preparation for graduate school, including any relevant extracurricular activities or experiences and any hurdles you have overcome.
  2. Why do you want to pursue graduate study in Earth and Marine Sciences at UNC? What experiences have been central to your decision?
  3. Describe your career goals and how graduate school at UNC will help you achieve these.
  4. What are your specific research interests and why do you find these compelling?
  5. Indicate which faculty member(s) most closely match your research interests and, if applicable, describe any potential research topics or projects you have discussed with them.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required. These should come from individuals who know you well and can best describe your strengths and your academic/professional qualifications and experience.