Decide Where to Apply to Graduate School

Like applying for college, the decision whether and where to apply for graduate school has no one-size-fits-all solution. You may be encouraged by parents or friends to look at national rankings, such as this one:

U.S. News & World Report 2014 ranking on graduate schools in the Earth Sciences

However, where you choose to attend graduate school will have a large impact on your career and area of focus/research for many, many years. It is important to select a graduate school that offers a degree in the specific discipline you want to pursue. Not only that, but you want to look carefully at all of the research faculty to find potential advisors who specialize in an area that you would also like to work in for many years. First, do your research online—look at their faculty, graduate student population, research areas, publications, and overall university environment. Talk with multiple faculty, graduate students, and post-docs at your own school to see what advice they will offer you. You may be surprised to learn which universities are regarded as “top” in your field!

Every graduate program will have different admissions requirements. It is best to contact the graduate liaison at each school to learn about their specific requirements. Below you will find a small sampling of information from numerous universities about the graduate admissions requirements and/or procedures for several earth science disciplines. A quick Google search will help you find the requirements for additional schools in your field of study.

In the Carolinas

University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Duke University

University of South Carolina

North Carolina State University

In the Front Range

Colorado State University

University of Wyoming

University of Colorado Boulder

Graduate student participants in the American Meteorological Society Summer Policy Colloquium in Washington, D.C.
Graduate student participants in the American Meteorological Society Summer Policy Colloquium in Washington, D.C.

As a final note about graduate school, most programs will provide either a research assistant (RA) or teaching assistant (TA) position. In addition to a monthly stipend (for living expenses), these assistantships will often cover tuition as well. A graduate fellowship from a national organization such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) will make you a very desirable applicant to graduate school.

Next, Graduate Fellowships (aka “get paid to go to graduate school!”)