Application steps for graduate studies in the Department of Marine Sciences

Do you have some general questions about our program?

While it is recommended that you contact individual Marine Sciences faculty members to identify a potential major advisor, the following members are available to address general questions about graduate studies in the Department and more specific questions in their particular scientific sub-disciplines:

Biological Oceanography and Marine Biology/Ecology
Evan Ward
, Professor of Marine Sciences

Chemical Oceanography
Penny Vlahos, Associate Professor of Marine Sciences

Geochemical Oceanography
David Lund, Associate Professor of Marine Sciences

Physical Oceanography, Coastal Circulation and Mixing, Marine Meteorology, Ocean Modeling
Michael Whitney, Associate Professor of Marine Sciences

You may address general inquiries regarding the department and our graduate programs to:

Jim Edson, Professor and Head, Department of Marine Sciences

Graduate Coordinator
Department of Marine Sciences
1080 Shennecossett Road
Groton, CT 06340
Phone: 860-405-9152
Fax: 860-405-9153

Department of Marine Sciences Application Process:

Applying to any graduate program is a big step and requires time and effort to make the best decision for your future. The first step is to accumulate as much information about a program and potential faculty ( advisors as possible We recommend you read about our faculty and contact members whose research closely align with your interests. Go to the library or ask potential advisors for copies of their recent research articles to see the types of work they are currently conducting. This is an important consideration, because by choosing an advisor you choose a research area.

  • Communicate with Faculty by e-mail or phone, let them know you are interested in their research and ask if they have room available for a new student.
  • Give them a short history of your education, research interests and career goals. You may also wish to attach transcripts or a resume/CV in an email.
  • If possible, schedule a visit to the campus, talk to faculty and students about the graduate program, and tour the facilities. Since we typically do not accept applicants who have not identified a potential advisor or a particular research interest, this phase is exceedingly important in the application process.

Department Application Deadlines:

January 10 for fall semester entry and October 1 for spring semester entry (submission prior to these dates is strongly encouraged).

Graduate School requirements must be met before applicants can be offered admission. Information about the requirements can be found on this page:

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In addition to all Graduate School required documents, the Department of Marine Sciences also requires a personal statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and GRE scores.  A resume/CV is helpful, but optional.

Applicants are expected to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a science or engineering field, or a bachelor’s degree and a background including at least one year of college-level physics, biology, and chemistry as well as math through calculus, with a minimum 3.0 GPA in the combined science courses. Admission is very competitive and although a GPA of 3.0 is the minimum University requirement for graduate admission, successful applicants to Marine Sciences that are eligible for departmental financial support typically have GPAs considerably higher than the minimum, usually greater than 3.5 in the last four academic semesters.

Personal statement of purposeis a very important component of the application. The essay (2 pages) should clearly identify your interests, explain why you are pursuing a graduate degree, and why you feel UConn’s Oceanography Program is best suited for pursuit of your career goals. Make certain you target your essay to appropriate faculty members with whom you are interested in working. Your essay should also highlight your motivation for doing graduate work, any relevant training or professional and research experiences you have had, and academic honors, scholarships, etc. The objective is to provide as complete a picture of you as an individual as possible, including and stressing information that goes beyond just numbers and scores. Detailed and well thought-out comments are much more valuable than vague generalizations.

Three letters of recommendation recommenders should be selected carefully. When possible, have at least one letter from someone who has seen you work in a field or laboratory research atmosphere (e.g., an advisor for an undergraduate research project). Individuals providing a letter of reference should provide candid evaluations of your scientific aptitude, training, motivation, teaching talent, and ability to express yourself orally and in technical writing.

Graduate Record Examination scoresare required for admission consideration to the Department of Marine Sciences. High GRE scores can compensate for modest grades. However, a poor result on the GRE does not necessarily jeopardize your chances if the rest of your file is strong. Individuals reviewing the file realize that everyone can ‘have a bad day’. Applicants with a combined Verbal and Quantitative score of 315+ (1200+ under the previous scoring scale) and a writing score 4.5+ tend to be most competitive for department-supported teaching and research assistantships.

Financial Support

Students may be supported by Teaching Assistantships or Research Assistantships. The Department can also nominate exceptional students for funding under the Outstanding Scholars Program, which offers 3 year fellowships. If a student receives 50% stipend support during the academic year, s/he will receive a University tuition waiver. Stipends are also available for students engaged in research projects during the summer.

Most students are supported by research grants and contracts obtained by individual faculty members, and students supported in this way work on a specific project related to the grant. Learning about your potential advisor and communicating with her/him about your skills and scientific interests provide valuable information for the selection process.

We also strongly encourage you to apply for graduate school fellowships that are awarded by a number of federal and private agencies (e.g, National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research). These fellowships are highly competitive and if awarded, your acceptance to the Department is almost guaranteed. Start the application process early, as you will need to arrange letters of reference, etc. In addition, work with your identified graduate advisor to create a competitive proposal.