For Prospective EEPS Graduate Students

Application deadline is January 15.

The on-line application may be accessed at the Graduate School's website.

Ph.D. Applicant FAQs

1. How are the  Ph.D. applications screened?

All faculty members from each of our research groups meet early-to-mid February to consider all applications. They look at: (1) undergraduate preparation (including overall GPA, GPA trajectory, and rigor of courses), (2) letters of recommendation, (3) GRE test scores, (4) personal statement, and, if appropriate, (5) proof of language proficiency. No single factor outweighs the others; rather each group attempts to arrive at a "balanced" assessment of academic and professional promise.

The interests of doctoral applicants should be focused (and match those of one or more specific faculty members), and independence in research is especially desirable.

Generally, while GRE scores are considered as part of an applicant's overall package, the department is careful to also weigh compensatory strengths in other areas. Typical compensatory strengths include (but are not limited to): GPA in latter years of undergraduate enrollment, relevant work, lab, or extra-curricular activity, strong letters of reference or self-statements. That being said, the scarcity of doctoral slots (which change from year to year) appreciably raises the competitive standards for GREs, GPA, and so on.

Application Info:

Closing date for on-line applications is January 15th. Departmental review of applications will begin on January 1st and applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their application by this date. 

2. When will I hear about whether or not I was accepted?

Applicants should expect to be notified by formal letter within eight to twelve weeks (late March or early April) of the January 15th deadline. While the Department of Geological Sciences evaluates all applicants, offers of admission are binding only when made in writing by the Dean of the Graduate School. Admission may, in some cases, be deferred. Applications that are submitted after the January deadline will be reviewed and considered for fall or spring semester admission at the discretion of the department.

3. Have a question...?

Ask Lisa Sheehan, Administrative Assistant or Professor Meredith Hastings, Director of Graduate Studies.

Visiting the Department

As is the case at all universities, faculty vary from year-to-year in their need for additional students, and in the resources they have available to support them (lab space, research funding, etc.). Applicants are encouraged to start a dialog with the faculty they are most interested in working with even before the application process begins. This is most easily accomplished via e-mail. Applicants should simply introduce themselves, describe their academic background, and explain why their own interests seem a good match to the research being done within the department. Another way applicants can get a feel for the department and its culture is to contact the graduate students who are advised by the faculty member(s) they'd most like to work with.

Applicants who receive an acceptance letter from the Graduate School should feel free to make arrangements to come visit the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences. This is done informally, and arranged between the faculty advisor and the accepted student. Frequently, visiting prospective students stay with graduate students working in their area of interest. Visiting prospective students generally have a chance to speak with other EEPS faculty, enjoy a meal (or two) with potential student peers, and get a tour of the department itself -- all of which can be accomplished in a day. There is limited funding available to help defray the cost of these visits.


In 2006, the Graduate School began offering incoming EEPS doctoral students five years of guaranteed financial support from Brown. In fact, this support is available to nearly every Ph.D. program at Brown. Therefore, full tuition and health insurance payments with competitive monthly stipends to cover living expenses are provided for all admitted Ph.D. students. A few highly selective fellowships are also available for Ph.D. applicants with exceptional academic records.

It is important to note that the Graduate School has not made a policy decision that doctoral students must complete their degrees within five years. In fact, the Graduate School has never prohibited funding students who are beyond their fifth year. Some students in this type of situation may receive teaching assistantships, others may receive tuition scholarships, and others may be funded by their advisor's research grant(s).

There are several types of funding available to graduate students, and support types can change from semester to semester or year to year. The major source of funds for EEPS graduate students are listed below:

  1. University Fellowship
  2. Teaching Assistant (TA)
  3. Research Assistant (RA)
  4. External Funding Sources (NASA, NSF, etc.)