How to Apply

Interested in applying to our MS or PhD programs? View presentations from this year's info sessions.


PhD Program

The application for Fall 2024 will be open on September 6 and close on December 6.  The application will be accessible through the UC San Diego Graduate Division at

GRE test scores are not be required for admission. If you have already taken the test, you can include your scores on your application.

Scripps does not admit in the Winter and Spring quarters.

Exceptions for special circumstances will be considered by petition.

  1. PhD applicants apply through the UC San Diego Graduate Application, Grad Apply, and select degree type: Doctor of Philosophy.
  2. Next, applicants select a degree major: Earth Sciences, Marine Biology, or Oceanography (SI76, SI77, and SI78 are the PhD majors).  You may select any of these three; the choice does not impact your application.
  3. Later in the application process, they will select a program: Climate-Ocean-Atmosphere (COAP); Geosciences of the Earth, Oceans, and Planets (GEO); or Ocean Biosciences (OBP). Applicants may apply to up to two programs. Applicants will be reviewed and considered by the curricular group that most closely matches their research interests.  Applicants may indicate their preferred curricular group in the Statement of Purpose.

The following documents are required for a successful application:

  1. Statement of Purpose
    • Submitted with electronic application
    • Maximum 2 pages, no smaller than 10-point font
    • State and justify your interest in research areas and Scripps faculty
    • Discuss why you are interested in these areas and how your experiences (academic or otherwise) are relevant to your continuing academic studies. Include any research experience or publications you have and list any skills not otherwise noted in your application.
    • Explain why you choose to become a graduate student and why you choose the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
    • Additional information.
  2. Unofficial transcripts of all college-level work uploaded directly into the application as a PDF.  Do not mail hard copies at this time.
  3. Three letters of recommendation, submitted electronically, via the online application
  4. GRE- The GRE is not required for admission. If you have already taken the test, you can include your scores on your application.
  5. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score report (international applicants only)
  6. UC San Diego Application fee** ($135 for U.S. Citizens and $155 for International Applicants)

**Application fee waivers: Only United States citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply for an application fee waiver and the UC San Diego Graduate Division fee waiver website will detail specific qualification criteria. Please note, all fee waiver requests must be submitted through the application system at least one week prior to the application deadline. Your application must be fully submitted for your fee waiver to be processed.

We encourage all prospective students to identify and contact faculty who are conducting research in their field of study. To browse Scripps faculty and researchers, please visit our research website.

It is also important to review the fellowships offered by UCSD's Graduate Division.

TOEFL examinations must be taken no later than November for the scores to arrive before the application deadline.

Report GRE scores to:

If you choose to report GRE test scores, please send them to Institution Code 4836 (UC San Diego).  Department code is not necessary as all UC San Diego departments access the same test score database.

Report TOEFL scores to:

Institution Code 4836 (UC San Diego)

Demonstrated proficiency in the English language is required for all international applicants whose native language is not English and who have not studied full-time for one uninterrupted academic year at a university-level institution in which English is the language of instruction and in a country in which English is a dominant language.

Three English proficiency exams are accepted for graduate study at UCSD.  In addition to the TOEFL exam, the IELTS and Pearson Test will be accepted.  More information about the English proficiency exams can be found on the Graduate Division's website.

*Beginning this year, international students who are admitted, and accept their offer of admission will be required to submit a WES evaluation to the Division of Graduate Education & Postdoctoral Affairs team for review in order to finalize their admission. WES is recognized and trusted world-wide by international applicants. Once applicants decide where they will attend graduate school, they pay a nominal reporting fee to WES to have the evaluation sent to that school.

SDSU Joint Doctoral program in Geology and Geophysics

Students must first apply to SDSU. 

If recommended for admission by SDSU, students are instructed to complete the UCSD application.

A joint graduate group from the Geophysics Program of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and the Department of Geological Sciences at San Diego State University (SDSU) offer a Joint Doctoral Program in Geophysics. The complementary specialties and ongoing, vigorous collaborations between the two groups result in two focus areas: earthquake science and applied geophysics. Integrating geophysics at UCSD and SDSU will provide outstanding opportunities for students to develop the skills needed to address important local, regional, and global societal problems where geophysics can contribute to the solutions.

More information on SDSU's application process and deadlines can be found here.

General program information can be found here.