FAQs for prospective graduate students

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 mtown@uw.edu


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.)

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.

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. Check the search parameter box that says "Accepts Ocean Graduate Students" to identify faculty members who could serve as a primary graduate advisor. 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?

What is the dress code in SoO?

  • There is no specific dress code in the SoO, we encourage you to dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable. Individuals in our department often wear casual clothes including sandals and shorts as well as more “business casual” button down shirts and slacks or skirts. Our building temperature is usually around 63 and you can expect Seattle weather in February and March to be cool, with highs in the low 50s.


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 within 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).

What if I cannot afford the application fee?

  • You can apply for a fee waiver through the UW Graduate School. Fee waiver requests must be submitted in the online admission application after all steps of the application have been completed and at least seven calendar days prior to the program’s posted application deadline.

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 test required?

  • No, the GRE is not required for admission.

What is the minimum TOEFL score for international students applying to the UW, School of Oceanography?

  • The minimum acceptable TOEFL score is: 80; Recommended score is 92 or higher 
  • The IELTS exam is no longer accepted. 

Can I get a waiver for the TOEFL?

  • 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 uwgrad@uw.edu regarding this

What is the application deadline date?

  • December 1

What is the admission's process timeline?

  • Please find the timeline here.

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 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 accepted applicants will most likely be early in March, 2022. 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 by the same 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.


Will I be funded if I am accepted?

  • Yes.  You will be funded for six years on a Research Assistantship or a Teaching Assistantship, as long as you are making satisfactory progress.  We cover tuition (minus quarterly university fees), health insurance and a stipend of no less than $2800/month. 

Which national fellowships are available?

  • You can find a list of funding opportunities here.

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, this 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.


To learn more about our graduate program, view our graduate student life and community page.

To learn more about our faculty and their research, view our faculty web pages.