Prospective Graduate - FAQ's

Below are some of the most asked questions we receive in the UW, School of Oceanography. We have broken them down into areas of particular interest. We hope this helps in making your decision for graduate school. Please note if you have a question that is not answered here email us a


I want to get a Master’s Degree, not a Ph.D. Can I still apply to the UW, School of Oceanography (SoO)?
• Applications are only accepted for the doctoral program. We rarely accept students who are only interested in receiving a Master’s Degree. (This is in exception to the agreement we have with the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard where students are accepted only for a Master’s Degree.)

How long does it take to get a Ph.D.?
• The program is designed for students to achieve their doctoral degree in six years.

Are there faculty that I can talk to about my research?
• Yes, you can contact any of the faculty listed on the SoO website who has similar research interests to you and with whom you may want to work with or have questions for. You can find these listings under each field of study, or a comprehensive list of all faculty within all disciplines under “Research”.

Is the UW, School of Oceanography the right graduate program for me?
• While SoO is one of the premier programs in ocean science, we acknowledge that this program may not be for everyone. Choosing what graduate school you want to attend is an important decision and one that you be dedicated to for at least five-six years for a doctoral degree.

What are the graduates of the UW, School of Oceanography doing now?
• Many of the SoO graduates go on to postdoctoral research at an academic institution and may then remain in academia as faculty and/or researchers at both small, liberal arts schools, as well as large universities. Among our graduates, we also have people working in private industry, in petroleum-based research, are U.S. Naval officers, hold governmental jobs, and those who have started their own companies.

Does the UW, School of Oceanography offer a part-time attendance option?
• SoO does not offer a part-time option. Students who enroll in the School do so as a full-time student, and it is based on a six year program.

I just want to take a UW, School of Oceanography class, but am not a SoO student. How do I do that?
• If you would like to take a class in the School, but are not an enrolled student, you can apply to be an UW Graduate Non-Matriculated Student (details can be found on the UW’s web site at .


Application Questions

What do I list as “Department” in the application?
• School of Oceanography

What do I list as “Area of research or interdisciplinary program” in the application?
• This is where you will list what area of research you are interested in studying. These research areas are: Biological Oceanography, Chemical Oceanography, Marine Geology and Geophysics, Physical Oceanography.

What if I am interested in more than one of the disciplines in the School?
• If you are interested in more than one field, you may list up to three that you are interested in; but, please list them in order of your interest (most interested first).

Do I need to mail my transcript?
• No, please do not send your official transcripts until you are accepted. There will be a place in the application to download a scanned copy.

Is the GRE subject test required?
• No, the subject test is not required for admission. The general GRE test is required for every applicant.

What is the average GRE score for someone who is admitted?
• There is no GRE score minimum students must achieve in order to be admitted to SoO, yet we still receive questions on what students normally receive. This can be a difficult question to answer because the average may differ from year to year.
• During the past four years, the median GRE scores (in percentile) for the students admitted to the program are:
Verbal: 89% Quantitative: 89% Written: 67%
Three-quarters of the admitted students have scores above the following:
Verbal: 76% Quantitative: 77% Written: 45%

What is the minimum TOEFL or IELTS score for international students applying to the UW, School of Oceanography?
• The minimum acceptable TOEFL score is: 233 (computer-based test); 90-91 (internet-based test) We understand the paper-based test is no longer being offered.
• The minimum acceptable IELTS score is: 7.0
  (TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years)

Can I get a waiver for the TOEFL or IELTS?
• Students whose primary language was English during their primary and secondary schooling, and students who attended a US university or college and graduated with a bachelor's degree may be eligible for a waiver of the English proficiency exam requirement. Please send a written request to regarding this

What is the application deadline date?
• January 1

When will I be notified of a decision?
• SoO offers are normally made by the end of March each year. If you are on a wait list, you will be notified of that as well.

Can I come and visit the UW, School of Oceanography?
• SoO welcomes applicants interested in applying to the School, although no visit is required for application. Our Open House for applicants we are interested in meeting is usually the first Thursday and Friday of March. You’ll get an invitation from us in mid- February.

I would like to transfer to the UW, School of Oceanography. What is that process?
• You will need to apply with the regular application process as other applicants using the January 1st deadline, submitting all the same documents as regular applicants.

I applied to the UW, School of Oceanography last year and was declined. How do I reapply?
• You must submit a new application with updated demographic information, as well as pay another application fee. We do keep application files for two years, so if you have applied in the past two years we can use the same application materials to include with your new file. We do suggest, however, that you submit new reference letters, as well as a new personal statement, which includes experiences you have had since your last application.

Financial Aid

If I’m not accepted to the UW, School of Oceanography with a fellowship, can I be accepted and pay for the tuition myself?
• Unfortunately, that is not an option in SoO. Students admitted to the program are admitted with funding (i.e. they receive a stipend and tuition is paid for) and we do not have the option of having students pay their own tuition.

Student Life

Do most students have a master’s degree before they come to the UW, School of Oceanography?
• Many students come directly from undergraduate school. We do have some that go on to get a master’s degree before enrolling in our program and others that have been in the work force for some time before returning to graduate school.