Elements of a Strong Application

We find that the best applicants to our M.S. and Ph.D. programs show evidence of undergraduate research in atmospheric sciences, physics, chemistry, or related fields. Ph.D. program applicants are initially classified as M.S. students, and enter the Ph.D. program after passing the Qualifying Exam. To make your application stand out, consider the following elements:


We do not admit or deny applicants on the basis of GRE or GPR scores; rather, we aim to consider the applicant as a whole. For guidance, in the past our low-end GRE scores for admitted applicants was approximately 300 combined quantitative and verbal on the new scale. If your GRE scores are below the 50th percentile, we urge you to consider re-taking the exam to obtain a better score.


Your Statement should be an essay describing past experiences relevant to the M.S. or Ph.D. program and should indicate a proposed topic. Applicants should contact faculty with whom they share research interests, and they should mention these faculty by name in their essay. Strong essays provide an argument for why an applicant seeks graduate study in our Department, making reference to specific faculty. Essays that are generic, focus on personal idiosyncrasies, or elaborate on themes unrelated to the M.S. or Ph.D. program are neither persuasive nor compelling; similarly, essays that make no mention of previous research experience appear weak.


Letters of recommendation should come from academic referees, rather than previous employers; however, in cases where your workplace involved issues directly related to your planned M.S. or Ph.D. course of study, then letters from supervisors, especially supervisors with strong academic records, are most welcome.