Graduate Application Process

Application Deadlines and Requirements

Our graduate program admits students annually, to start in Autumn Quarter. We begin accepting applications after September 15, and the submission deadline is December 31 for both domestic and international applicants. For priority consideration, ALL application items must be submitted by the deadline.

Applicants to the Ph.D. program must hold a master's degree prior to beginning their doctoral studies. Prospective students who will not have earned a master's degree before the start of Autumn Quarter may only apply to the M.S. program, but may continue on to earn a Ph.D. with faculty approval.

Admissions Criteria

The primary criterion for admission to the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) is the demonstrated ability to successfully complete the degree program. The applicant's scholastic record is of primary importance in determining this potential and includes the following minimum requirements:
  1. GPA: A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 for the most recent 90 quarter credits, or 60 semester credits.
  2. GRE Scores: To be competitive for SEFS admission, applicants should have minimum GRE scores of 153 verbal, 144 quantitative, and 4.0 analytical writing. For tests taken prior to August 1, 2011, applicants should have minimum scores of 500 verbal, 500 quantitative, and 4.0 analytical writing. Please note we only require the GRE General Test. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) will not report scores that are older than five years, so some applicants may need to retake the test.
  3. TOEFL Scores: For International students who need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), SEFS requires a minimum score of 580 on the written test (TOEFL); 237 on the computer-based test (TOEFLC); or 92 on the internet-based test (TOEFLiBT). Please review the Graduate School's Memorandum #8 to determine whether TOEFL scores are required. Please note that other tests of English language proficiency are acceptable as outlined in the Graduate School's Memorandum #8. Test scores are valid for two years and must be valid on the application deadline, December 31.

Please note that applicants admitted to SEFS typically have a GPA of 3.5 or higher and GRE scores in the 80th percentile or above, but no scores guarantee admission.

You do not need to have a faculty advisor or a specific research project, but both are helpful in the admissions process. You should review the online faculty profiles to determine whether your research background, interests and objectives fit with one (or more) of the SEFS faculty, and then contact them directly.

UW admissions policies and procedures are addressed on the UW Graduate Admissions FAQs webpage. The UW Graduate School's website also has admissions and enrollment statistics.

Funding

You do not need to have funding secured before submitting your application, but if you do have a fellowship (i.e. NSF), please indicate it in your application. Funding is determined prior to an offer of admission and will be outlined in the offer letter. No additional application materials are needed to be considered for fellowship or assistantship funding, and personal funds are not factored into funding considerations for admissions purposes.

A limited number of SEFS fellowships for outstanding applicants are awarded each year. The SEFS fellowship is equivalent to a half-time research assistantship. All applicants are evaluated for SEFS fellowships, but only top applicants are considered.

About half of SEFS graduate students are funded by half-time (50%) research assistantships (RA-ships) paid from research grants. Some students are funded by half-time (50%) teaching assistantships (TA-ships), and the funding type will be outlined in the offer letter.

Funding packages typically provide a monthly stipend for living expenses, health insurance and payment for most tuition costs. The salary and benefits for research and teaching assistantships are outlined below. Depending on various factors, salaries may increase on an annual basis (normally 3-5%).

  • Monthly salary/stipend for incoming master's students: $1,678/mo.
  • Monthly salary/stipend for incoming doctoral students: $1,803/mo.
  • Graduate Appointee Insurance Program (GAIP) (i.e., health insurance) premiums are paid by the UW for students who hold an eligible research or teaching assistantship or fellowship, as detailed on the GAIP webpage. The UW also pays a portion of insurance premiums for the student's eligible spouse or same sex domestic partner and dependent children.
  • A tuition waiver pays for the majority of tuition, both in and out of state. The out-of-pocket tuition costs for all SEFS students (resident, non-resident and international) who hold an assistantship is approximately $500 per quarter. This amount changes each year; the current tuition rates are posted online and are usually updated each August.

The UW Financial Aid Office publishes a cost of attendance estimate for the nine-month academic year.

Some applicants may receive financial support from their agency or employer, or may be international students with scholarships from their home countries. In these cases, applicable external funding is normally used before any internal SEFS funding.

The UW Graduate School provides additional information about fellowships and assistantships and other funding opportunities, including external awards. Grants.gov is a resource for federal funding opportunities. Students are strongly encouraged to apply for non-SEFS grants, fellowships and scholarships before and during their time at SEFS.

PLEASE NOTE: Applicants to our professional degree programs (MEH, MFR, PCMI) do NOT receive assistantship funding from SEFS. The MEH, MFR and PCMI programs do not have a research thesis requirement and are typically completed in a much shorter timeline; we cannot divert research funds to support our professional degree programs.

Application Process

To be considered for admission, you will need to apply to the UW Office of Graduate Admissions via the online application. Further instructions are detailed step-by-step during the online application process, but an overview is listed below.

Our application deadlines are:

  • December 31, for international applicants
  • December 31, for domestic applicants

Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. We begin mailing admission offers in March, and all applicants will receive notification of an admission decision before April 15. An Application Timeline is also detailed on this webpage.

Please completely read all instructions before beginning the admissions process:

  1. Apply online by following the instructions at http://www.grad.washington.edu/admissions.
  2. One unofficial copy of transcript(s) from all colleges or universities you have attended should be uploaded via the graduate school application interface.

    If you are taking classes at the time of application, please upload unofficial transcripts from the institution you currently attend by the application deadline. You should upload updated transcripts that include your final grades as soon as they are available. All admitted students will need to provide official transcripts to the Graduate School before enrolling.
  3. OFFICIAL GRADUATE RECORD EXAMINATIONS (GRE) GENERAL TEST SCORES: Scores are sent electronically from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to the UW Graduate Admissions Office on a weekly basis. We recommend that you take the GRE General Test by early November. Our GRE institution code is 4854. There is no department code to report to ETS; our institution code (4854) is sufficient. GRE scores must be less than five years old, otherwise ETS will not report them. Information about GRE testing can be found on the Educational Testing Service (ETS) website; please contact ETS directly for testing questions, including when your official scores will be ready. If your GRE test date is after November 15, please self-report your Verbal and Quantitative scores in your online application and have ETS send the official scores as soon as possible. No offer of admission will be made until official scores are received for all sections of the GRE General Test.
  4. INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS - OFFICIAL TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) SCORES. Please review the Graduate School's Memorandum #8 to determine whether English language proficiency test scores are required. Our institution code is 4854. SEFS requires these minimum scores on one of the following tests: 580 on the written test (TOEFL); 237 on the computer-based test (TOEFLC); 92 on the internet-based (TOEFLiBT) test; 7.0 on the IELTS; 90 on the MLT; 65 on the Pearson Test of English (PTE). Please note that other tests of English language proficiency are acceptable as outlined in the Graduate School's Memorandum #8. Test scores are valid for two years and must be valid on the date the application deadline, December 31.
  5. FUNDING DOCUMENTATION. If you plan to receive funding from an external (i.e., non-SEFS) source and have related documentation, such as a fellowship award letter, you should scan and upload it during the online application process.
  6. THREE LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION. All letters of recommendation are requested electronically during the online application process. The application system will immediately email recommenders after you enter their contact information; further instructions for uploading and transmitting their recommendations will be included in that email. Please do not select the "postal mail" option; we only accept electronic recommendations. Recommendations should be from faculty or scientists familiar with your academic achievements and/or research experience. Applicants who have been out of school for some time may include recommendations from employers, but all efforts should be made to include at least one letter from academic faculty. Letters are due by the application deadline, December 31.
  7. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE. During the online application process, you will be asked to submit a statement of your educational and professional goals/objectives. You can upload this statement into the application as a Word, PDF, RTF or plain text document. The format for the Statement of Purpose is below:

    1. Two pages maximum, single-spaced, and one-inch margins.
    2. Explain how your past experiences (research, volunteer or education) and background might enhance your graduate studies.
    3. Discuss why you specifically want to attend SEFS.
    4. Identify any faculty whom you would like as potential advisors and explain why.
    5. Include your research interests, your ideas regarding potential research projects, and what you hope to accomplish during and after your program at SEFS.
  8. RESUME OR CURRICULUM VITAE. You will be asked to submit a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) listing a summary of your education, accomplishments and experiences including: (a) awards and scholarships (prizes, honors upon graduation, honorary society membership, etc.) and dates awarded; (b) research experience (description, name of advisor, and dates); (c) relevant employment and professional experience (description and dates); (d) special skills (computer/software, specialized instruments, etc.); and (e) a list of publications (including papers that have been submitted or are in preparation), if applicable.

Application Timeline

The usual timeline for the application process is listed below. Please keep in mind that this should be used as a guide only and is subject to change depending on the operational needs of the Admissions Committee and the School.

  • September 15: the online application system opens
  • December 31: deadline for domestic and international applications
  • January 1 to February 15: the Admission Committees reviews and evaluates all applications that were submitted by the deadline
  • February 15 to February 28: all competitive applicants who are eligible for SEFS fellowships are forwarded to the Scholarship Committee for consideration
  • February 28 to March 5: all SEFS fellowship awardees are notified
  • March 1 to March 31: admission offers are sent via email
  • April 15: applicant deadline to accept or decline an admission offer from SEFS
  • April 16 to July 1: "wait-list" applicants are offered admission or denied depending on funding outcomes or space availability

Graduate Non-Matriculated Status

SEFS may grant Graduate Non-Matriculated (GNM) status to students who meet the minimum criteria outlined below on a space-available basis. GNM application deadlines are listed on the UW Continuing Education website. Please note that GNM status in no way implies or guarantees subsequent admission to a graduate degree program at SEFS. A separate application process is required for the SEFS Master's and Doctoral programs (see Admissions Criteria and Application Process sections above).

The minimum criteria for GNM status include:

  • PRIOR DEGREE: an earned bachelor's degree (i.e., B.A. or B.S.) from an accredited institution.
  • GPA: a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 for the most recent 90 quarter credits, or 60 semester credits, of college work.

Please review the GNM application deadlines before proceeding. The online application, FAQs, registration procedures and other relevant information are on the UW Continuing Education non-degree enrollment website.

GNM students may register in SEFS courses on a SPACE AVAILABLE basis, with permission from the instructor and the SEFS Student Services Office in Anderson Hall, Room 130. Students must seek out instructors to obtain their signature before bringing their form to the SEFS Student Services Office. Only courses at the 400- or 500-level are eligible for transfer toward UW graduate degrees. The following courses are not open to GNM students: SEFS 500, 509, 600, 700 and 800.

Students may transfer up to 12 eligible GNM credits earned at the UW toward a UW graduate degree. Please see the Transfer Credit section of the UW Graduate School's website and the Graduate School's Memorandum #37 for more information about transfer credit eligibility and restrictions.

Steps to apply for Graduate Non-Matriculated student status at SEFS
  1. APPLICATION FOR GRADUATE NON-MATRICULATED STUDENT STATUS submitted online by the applicable deadline.
  2. One official or unofficial copy of transcript(s) from all colleges or universities you have attended.

If you are taking classes at the time of application, please send unofficial transcripts from the institution you currently attend by the application deadline. You should then follow up by sending transcripts that include your final grades as soon as they are available.

If you want to take some classes but do not need them to count toward a future graduate degree, you may wish to consider non-matriculated (NM) status. Non-matriculated students simply register for courses after obtaining instructor and departmental approval, and tuition costs are usually less. But, NM credits are not transferrable to a UW graduate degree if you are admitted; only eligible GNM credits may count. Please see the UW Continuing Education non-degree enrollment website to compare regular NM status with GNM status. Their FAQs are helpful with this as well.

Visiting SEFS

Tuesday Seminars: On Tuesday afternoons from 3:30-4:20 p.m., there is normally a departmental seminar in AND 223. Once a month, we follow the seminar with a social event in our Forest Club Room. This is a great opportunity to meet students, staff, faculty and other members of the SEFS community. No registration or RSVP is necessary, but please contact our offices for details and to confirm times if you plan to visit.

Meeting with Faculty: SEFS faculty schedules are quite varied, so we ask that you arrange individual meetings with potential faculty advisors directly by emailing or calling them; faculty contact information and profiles are listed on our webpage.

Parking Information: There is a limited amount of metered public street parking available near campus, or you can pay to park on the UW campus. More information is listed on the UW Commuter Services webpage.

Campus Tours: The University of Washington offers tours of the campus almost every day. To sign up for a tour: http://admit.washington.edu/Visit

Equal Opportunity

The University of Washington reaffirms its policy of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran. This policy applies to all programs and facilities, including, but not limited to, admissions, educational programs, employment, and patient and hospital services. Any discriminatory action can be a cause for disciplinary action. Discrimination is prohibited by Presidential Executive Order 11246 as amended, Washington State Gubernatorial Executive Orders 89-01 and 93-07, Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Washington State Law Against Discrimination RCW 49.60, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, State of Washington Gender Equity in Higher Education Act of 1989, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 as amended, Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1972 as amended, other federal and state statutes, regulations, and University policy. Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action compliance efforts at the University of Washington are coordinated by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, University of Washington, 231 Gerberding Hall, Box 351240, Seattle, Washington, 98195-1240, telephone 206.543.1830 or email eoaa@u.washington.edu.

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation in the application process, contact the Disability Services Office at least ten days in advance at: 206.543.6450/V, 206.543.6452/TTY, 206.685.7264 (FAX), or dso@u.washington.edu.