Applying to the EPS Graduate Program


A strong foundation in math and science is the main prerequisite for admission to our graduate program. We welcome students with backgrounds that span the range of STEM disciplines, including physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, computer science, and mathematics, in addition to those whose undergraduate preparation was in geology or earth sciences. We encourage students who have not studied geoscience as an undergraduate to pay close attention to prerequisites for the graduate level courses they wish to take.

All Application Materials Are Due December 20, 2016

Students must complete the on-line application procedure at The Graduate School's admission website, CollegeNet, where you will first need to create a password-protected account. The online application site becomes active in early September for admission to the following year's incoming Fall Quarter class. Prospective students must submit their applications by December 20th to be considered for the full range of financial support including fellowships, research and teaching assistantships.

Application Timeline

Decisions are finalized by the end of March/early April.

Complete applications require the following additional materials:

  • Application Fee of $95
  • At least two letters of recommendation
  • GRE (General Record Examination) scores for the general test
  • Official transcripts for each undergraduate and graduate institution attended. Applicants upload scanned versions of official transcripts online (in ApplyYourself)

 Additional Requirements for Foreign Applicants:

Foreign applicants from countries in which English is not the native language must certify their English proficiency in one of the following ways:

  • By providing acceptable Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores. The test must be taken no more than two years before the intended quarter of entry. To qualify for admission, students must earn a minimum score of 90 on the internet test, or a 7.0 on the IELTS.
  • By earning an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited four-year institution (or equivalent), where the language of instruction is English.
  • By earning a graduate degree from a regionally accredited institution where the language of instruction is English.

Financial Support

Application fee waivers may be available to applicants who meet the requirements of eligibility set by The Graduate School. Requesting an application fee waiver is automatically part of the application process.

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences provides all of its Ph.D. students full tuition support and living assistance provided they maintain satisfactory progress towards the completion of their degrees. The support package includes the tuition scholarship, a living stipend, and Northwestern student health insurance. Students may apply for additional financial support for field research and travel to conferences and professional meetings. First-year graduate students are frequently supported by University Fellowships and, to a lesser extent, research and teaching assistantships. To qualify for teaching assistantships, foreign students must demonstrate proficiency in spoken English.

The Writing Sample:  Applicants who have written reports, papers, a thesis, a proposal, or another document on their scientific activity are encouraged to submit it as a writing sample. Writings in English are preferred but writing samples in other languages may also be submitted. The applicant should indicate what the writing sample was used for (which course, which journal, which degree, which stipend, etc.). It is not necessary to develop a writing sample solely for the purpose of the graduate school application, because general writing skills will also be represented in other application-related statements.

Contact us!

Students interested in receiving information on graduate studies in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Northwestern University are invited to browse our web site. You may also e-mail us at to request additional information. If you know the area(s) of Earth and Planetary Sciences that you'd like to pursue, please contact relevant faculty (research expertise is described on individual faculty web pages) directly via e-mail to discuss mutual research interests. We look forward to hearing from you!


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