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Prospective Students


Welcome to the Department of Earth, Marine and Environmental Sciences! We offer degrees in Geological Science and Marine Science at the undergraduate and graduate levels. 

Our department represents a recent (2021) merger of the Marine Sciences and Geological Sciences departments (on the Chapel Hill campus), as well as the Institute of Marine Sciences (in Morehead City). We continue to offer M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Marine Sciences and Geological Sciences for students entering the programs in fall 2022. 

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Frequently Asked Questions 

All full-time Marine Sciences and Geological Sciences graduate students receive financial support that includes a competitive stipend, health insurance, and tuition. Sources vary. Some students are supported on external fellowships (e.g., NSFGRF). Some financial awards are made directly from the Graduate School. Most students are funded through both teaching assistantships provided by the department and research assistantships associated with funded research projects.
The university provides limited on-campus housing for graduate students in Chapel Hill. No permanent long-term housing is provided at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City, although short-term bunking accommodation is available. Most students elect to live in off-campus rooms, apartments, and houses in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area or in Morehead City. No direct public transportation is available between the main campus and the Institute, and those who work at the Institute generally maintain a personal vehicle for trips to main campus.
All registered students who have paid their fees are eligible for health care at the Student Health Service facility on main campus. The health fee does not cover hospitalization, surgery, or intensive care. Graduate students not otherwise covered by their parents’ or spouses’ policies will be enrolled in the Student Blue RA/TA plan offered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
We consider the academic record, personal statement, research experience, and letters of recommendation. Most importantly, all incoming graduate students must obtain a faculty sponsor that will serve as their academic advisor and agree to provide financial support, usually through a research assistantship from research grants. We strongly encourage prospective students to communicate with potential faculty advisors prior to applying to the program to enquire whether they will be taking on new students for the following academic year, and to begin discussing potential research projects.
This depends on the research direction you will take in graduate school and the research of your potential advisor. For example, labs with a biological focus tend to accept students with a degree in the biological sciences, ecology, microbiology, etc. Those with a chemistry focus tend to accept students with a degree in chemistry, biochemistry, etc. Students planning to work on physical oceanography or coastal dynamics usually have undergraduate degrees in math, engineering, or physics. Students with a geology focus generally have an undergraduate degree in Geology or Earth Sciences.
There are no specific research requirements although your application will be more competitive if you have some research experience that aligns with the area of research of the lab in which you are interested in joining. We encourage all prospective students interested in graduate school to obtain research experience during their undergraduate program. This will also strengthen your application by potentially providing good letters of recommendation which can highlight your research skills.