Graduate Application Process

Application Deadlines and Requirements

Our graduate program admits students annually, to start in Autumn Quarter. We begin accepting applications after September 15th, and the submission deadline is December 1st 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:

  • GPA: A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 for the most recent 90 quarter credits, or 60 semester credits. Applicants admitted to SEFS typically have a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
  • GRE Scores: Official GRE scores are required. This includes international applicants. 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.
  • TOEFL Scores: For International students who need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the UW Graduate School requires a minimum score of 80 on the internet-based test (TOEFLiBT). The TOEFL test is required for any applicant whose native language is not English, unless the applicant graduated from a university in the United States or another primarily English-speaking country. Test scores are valid for two years and must be valid on the application deadline, December 1st.

Prospective students should contact three to five faculty members who have matching interests and are accepting new graduate students. You should make successful contact with at least one faculty member who may become a potential faculty advisor. 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 webpage. The UW Graduate School's website also has admissions and enrollment statistics.


PLEASE NOTE: Applicants to our professional degree programs (MEH and MFR) do NOT receive assistantship or fellowship funding from SEFS. The MEH and MFR 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.

Applicants to the Master of Science and PhD programs do not need to have funding secured before submitting an application, but any external fellowships (i.e. NSF) should be indicated on the 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.

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 and the College of the Environment provide additional information about fellowships and assistantships and other funding opportunities, including external awards. 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.

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 1st, for international applicants
  • December 1st, 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 15th. 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
  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. Scores are centrally managed so no department code is necessary, but you may select code 5199, "Any Department Not Listed" if a code is required. 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. The Graduate School requires a score of 80 on the internet-based (TOEFLiBT) test. Test scores are valid for two years and must be valid on the date the application deadline, December 1st.
  5. FUNDING. If you plan to receive funding from an external (i.e., non-SEFS) source, please provide all relevant information when requested.
  6. FACULTY CONTACT. Applicants to the MS and PhD programs should provide the names of three to five faculty members you have contacted on the application. Applicants to the MEH and MFR programs should provide the names of any faculty members you have contacted or would like to work with.
  7. 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 1st.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 Research Interest Groups and the School.

  • September 15: the online application system opens
  • September 15 to December 1: students should contact professors to identify potential faculty advisors
  • December 1: deadline for both domestic and international applications
  • January 1 to February 15: the Admission Committees reviews and evaluates all applications that were submitted by the deadline
  • January 15 to January 31: all competitive applicants who are eligible for SEFS fellowships are forwarded to the Scholarship Committee for consideration
  • February 1 to February 15: 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. 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.

GNM students may register in SEFS courses on a SPACE AVAILABLE basis, with permission from the instructor and the SEFS Student Services Office. 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. Students may transfer up to 12 eligible GNM credits earned at the UW toward a UW graduate degree.

Steps register for graduate courses as a GNM student
  1. Apply for GNM Status through the UW Graduate School, specifying SEFS at the program
  2. Obtain registration and registration approval form from Non-Degree Enrollment
  3. Find a course in the ESRM or SEFS Time Schedules listed under Environment
  4. Attend class the first week and obtain instructor signatures, then get Students Services signatures
  5. Submit the forms to Non-Degree Enrollment

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 less for Washington State residents. But, NM credits are not transferrable to a UW graduate degree if you are admitted.

Visiting SEFS

SEFS Seminar Series: On Monday afternoons and Tuesday mornings, there is normally a departmental seminar available. This is a great opportunity to find out about research projects and student involvement at SEFS. No registration or RSVP is necessary, but please contact our offices for details and to confirm times if you plan to visit.

Graduate Student Symposium: At the beginning of March each year, our current graduate students host the SEFS Graduate Student Symposium. This is an opportunity for graduate students to showcase their research and receive feedback from other students and faculty members. There is usually a social gathering after the symposium and sometimes other activities the following weekend for prospective graduate students.

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:

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

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