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Graduate Program

Graduate Admission : How to Apply for a Graduate Program

The Department of Geological Sciences (GS) offers Ph.D. and M.S. programs in a wide range of fields, including surface processes, geomorphology, geomechanics, structural & regional geology, tectonics, sedimentary geology & basin analysis, life and planetary evolution, petrology, geochemistry, mineralogy & mineral physics, environmental geology, geochronology & thermochronology, and geostatistics. The size and the breadth of interest of the department's faculty provide numerous opportunities for field-based research and laboratory and numerical experiments and for the most modern applications of instrumental analysis and spectroscopy to problems in the earth sciences.

Students are encouraged to draw upon the skills of more than one research advisor in interdisciplinary projects. Complimentary programs are provided in the Departments of Geophysics, Energy Resources Engineering, and Earth System Science. Faculty in the GS department interact closely with other departments at Stanford, including Civil & Environmental, Mechanical, and Chemical Engineering; Chemistry; Biology; Statistics; and Applied Physics, as well as with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the Center for Materials Research, the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the faculty member(s) they intend to work with.

If you are applying for another program in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, please visit the appropriate website for admissions information and mailing address.  A list of programs within the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences can be found here

Admissions deadline for Fall of 2019-20 is January 7, 2020. The application will open in September 2019.

The following items must be received in the electronic application:

  • Statement of purpose
  • Application fee
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Scanned copy of official transcript(s) (upload each transcript as a single pdf file).  Do not upload the unofficial transcript printed from your university website.  You must obtain an official transcript and make a copy.
  • GRE scores (see comments)

Official transcripts must also be submitted either :

By mail:

Graduate Admissions Committee
Geological Sciences
450 Serra Mall, Bldg 320, Rm. 118
Stanford, CA 94305-2115

By email:

We will accept official e-transcripts directly from your institution. E-transcripts should be sent to

Information about Required Exams

GRE - Only the general GRE test is required. Scores must be from tests taken within the past five years. Scores must be reported directly to Stanford from ETS. The Stanford score recipient number is 4704. To facilitate preliminary review of your application, please note your scores in the electronic form. If you receive your scores after submitting, send your scores to with a subject line of "GRE SCORES - YOUR NAME".  If you have previously applied to Stanford (within the past five years), we have your prior test scores.  We do not have a minimum GRE score requirement, and we do not track average scores for admitted applicants.

TOEFL - Applicants whose first language is not English must submit TOEFL scores from a test taken within the last eighteen months. Exemptions are granted for applicants who have earned a U.S. bachelor’s or master’s degree from a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association in the United States, or equivalent of either degree from a university of recognized standing in countries where all instruction is provided in English. Please see the Graduate Admissions Office website for additional information about required exams and the TOEFL waiver.

Application Status

Due to the high volume of applications, we cannot respond to individual inquiries about the status of documents submitted. Please view your checklist weekly for any missing materials.  We will accept letters of recommendation and official test scores after the deadline.  The office will be closed December 21-January 4.  Decisions will be made on all applications by the end of March 2019.

University information about Graduate Admissions and the online application.

Funding and Support

To be considered for funding upon admission, simply check the box on the admissions application that indicates that you wish to be considered for financial aid; there are no additional forms or materials to be submitted beyond the regular application.

Graduate students admitted to GS receive substantial financial aid (including tuition) from combinations of departmental fellowships, teaching or research assistantships, and other sources (including external fellowships).  Please note on your application if you are receiving other fellowships, government funding, or company financial support.

The department's funding package covers up to 10 units of tuition and provides a quarterly salary.

External Funding

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to apply for external fellowships, such as the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, or Department of Defense fellowships. If the external fellowship is not sufficient to cover the standard department support level, a supplement will be provided by the University, the department or a research advisor. These fellowships strongly enhance your resume for your future career.

Knight-Hennessy Scholars

Knight-Hennessy Scholars develops a community of future global leaders to address complex challenges through collaboration and innovation. This year, the program will award up to 75 high-achieving students with full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford, including full-time master's and doctoral students in Geological Sciences. To be considered, you must apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by September 12, 2018, and separately apply to the Department of Geological Sciences by November 14, 2018.

If you have additional questions, contact

Frequently asked questions:

When is the deadline?  Do you accept late documents?

January 8, 2019 at 11:59PM Pacific Standard Time.  We will accept hard copy transcripts, official test scores, and letters of recommendation after the deadline.  However, the admissions committee will begin reviewing files immediately after the deadline, so late documents may delay the review of your file. The admissions committee will use the uploaded copy of your transcript and self-reported test scores for a preliminary review until the official copies arrive.  Admissions decisions will not be made without official transcripts and test scores. All other materials must be submitted online by January 8th. 

How do I know if you've received my transcript/test score/etc?

Please view the checklist in your application account.  A status of Received (Unofficial) means that we have not received the official document.  The admissions committee will use the uploaded copy of your transcript and self-reported test scores for a preliminary review until the official copies arrive.  Admissions decisions will not be made without official transcripts and test scores. Checklists are updated weekly.

Can I submit official electronic transcripts?

Yes, if your school offers an official electronic transcript, those can be emailed to

Can I apply for spring admissions?

The department only accepts applications for the fall quarter.

Do you have a minimum GPA or GRE requirement?

We do not have a minimum GPA or GRE requirement. The evaluation of each applicant is based on all the materials in the file and is not exclusively based on GRE test scores or GPA. 

Do you accept the IELTS?

We do not accept the IELTS, only the TOEFL.  Please see the Stanford University Graduate Admissions website for additional information about the TOEFL and TOEFL waivers.

Do I need a Master's degree to apply to the Ph.D. program?

No. Applicants who have a bachelor’s degree may apply directly to our doctoral program.

What if I am interested in working with faculty in multiple departments?

Applicants can only apply to one department.  Apply to the department that is the best fit for your research interests.  Faculty and students within the School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences work closely with each other, and with other departments on campus. Current students have opportuntities to work with faculty in other departments.

Help! I'm having technical issues with the application!

Technical support is available from any page within the online application by clicking on the CollegeNET Tech Support link. You can also send email to the CollegeNet Help Desk at CollegeNET responds to technical support questions within 24 hours. When requesting technical support include: User name, Full Name, Email Address

Please also visit the Stanford University Graduate Admissions website for additional information about eligibility, required exams, submitting the application, file upload requirements, and more.