How to Apply

Applying to the MS in Environmental and Ocean Sciences

The priority application deadline for admission to the MS in Environmental and Ocean Sciences program is January 15. Applications received after this date will be considered, but evaluation of applications typically begins in early February, and university financial aid can not be guaranteed to applicants whose materials are received after April 1.

Complete applications are reviewed by a faculty admissions committee, and students whose applications are complete by the January 15 priority deadline typically are notified of the admissions decision by the end of March. Applications are accepted after the priority deadline, but admissions decisions may be delayed so that the admissions committee has sufficient time to review each application.

Additional information about applying to USD graduate programs is available on the Graduate Admissions website.

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The Environmental and Ocean Sciences Graduate Program at the University of San Diego welcomes diverse, innovative, and intellectually engaged students. We believe that diversity and inclusivity are great drivers of research and discovery. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) has not only been found to be a very poor indicator of success in graduate school, but has a significant bias against underrepresented groups (click here for more information and references).

The Environmental and Ocean Sciences Graduate Program will therefore no longer consider GRE scores for admission decisions. Applicants should not request that GRE scores be sent to USD or self-report GRE scores with their application.

Undergraduate Coursework 

  • One semester of life science for science majors, with laboratory
  • One year of chemistry, with laboratory
  • One semester of physics for science majors, with laboratory
  • One semester of calculus
  • One semester of statistics
  • One semester of earth science or atmospheric science, with laboratory (Environmental Science track)
    • One semester of earth science for science majors, with laboratory, is strongly recommended for all applicants

In some cases, an applicant's undergraduate degree program did not include one or more of the courses required for admission. It is strongly recommended that those courses be completed prior to entering the program (i.e., by the end of the summer before a student's first semester at USD).

Letters of Recommendation

All applicants should solicit letters of recommendation from three professors who are familiar with the applicant's scholarly work or from professional supervisors who have had experience in a graduate program and can provide information regarding the applicant's potential for success as a graduate student. Recommendations from coaches, family friends, and other people who are familiar with the applicant may be helpful but should not be submitted in place of the three academic recommendations. Review of applications that do not include three academic reference letters may be delayed.

Personal Statement 

An important element of an application is a personal statement that addresses the applicant’s specific research interests and their compatibility with the expertise of particular MSEOS faculty person. It is strongly recommended that potential applicants contact one or more of the graduate faculty about conducting research under their supervision before submitting an application. Before contacting a potential faculty mentor, it is very useful for students to familiarize themselves with the faculty member’s research. Read the biographies and research interests of our faculty.

It also is a good practice to read some of the faculty member’s recent publications to acquire a deeper understanding of their research and how your interests may fit with theirs.

Information about current graduate students and their research as well as former graduate students and the titles of their completed theses may be helpful.

Current graduate student profiles.

View a list of completed theses.  

Financial Aid

All applicants should fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before submitting an application. The FAFSA priority deadline for graduate students is April 1. Note that this date is more than two months after the priority deadline for applying to the MSMS program (see above).

Graduate Student Financial Aid


On-Campus: On-campus housing for graduate students is extremely limited. Graduate Student Housing

Off-Campus: Most graduate students find housing off campus. Off-Campus Housing

Roommates: We also have a resource for finding other USD students for roommates. Find a graduate or law student roommate

MySanDiego Portal

Within 2-3 days after submitting an application, applicants should receive an e-mail that provides a user name and password that will allow the applicant to use the USD student portal, Applicants should check the portal after submitting all materials to make sure that their application is complete. At times, a missing transcript or letter of recommendation may delay review of an application. It is the responsibility of the applicant to make sure that all of their materials have been received by USD and that their application is complete.

Financial aid information also should be available through the portal, after an applicant’s financial aid materials have been received. Questions about the status of a financial aid application should be addressed to the Office of Financial Aid (

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