Graduate Application

Applications are accepted on a rolling admission for each term until six weeks before the start of the term. Please check the university academic calendar for term start dates

For fall term enrollment, applications that are RECEIVED by January 15 have a greater chance for funding opportunities.

To apply, please follow the directions on the Graduate School's admissions page.

GRE Scores

We only require the general GRE exam. Your GRE scores should be from a test date within the last 5 years. You should plan to take your GRE’s well in advance of the deadline as it may take weeks for scores to reach the Graduate School. We would like to see a combined minimum score of 300. Enter your test scores in the online application and have your scores sent directly to the Graduate School from your testing agency. Learn more about sending GRE scores directly to the Graduate School. 


Unofficial transcripts can be added to your online application. We will contact you for official copies if they are necessary. 

Requirements summary

For all students:

International requirements:

  • Follow the Graduate School's international admission requirements
  • TOEFL - 550 for Regular Admission, 500 – 547 Conditional Admission
  • TOEFL iBT - 80 with a minimum score of 18 on each section for regular admission, 60-79 Conditional Admission
  • IELTS - 6.5 for Regular Admission, 6.0 Conditional Admission
  • INTO OSU – Program information

International Students

Please review the information for international students on the Graduate School's website. 

Letters of Reference

We require three letters of recommendation. You will enter the contact information of your reference writers on the online application. Letters should come from academic or professional contacts that have had enough experience working with the applicant to evaluate the individual’s ability to be successful in a graduate program. At least one letter should be from a professor. Letters from personal references are not acceptable.

Statement of Goals

The statement of academic and career goals is perhaps the most important requirement for your application.

The statement is entered on the “Other Graduate Questions” page of the online application. Please keep your statement to no more than 700 words.

In your statement please include:

  • A BRIEF personal history regarding why you are interested in pursuing graduate studies in Environmental Sciences at Oregon State University 
  • What you would like to research specifically

In order to be successful, graduate students must have a well-defined idea of what type of research, and in what field, they would like to undertake for their thesis project. Vague interests such as “human-environmental interactions” or “environmental degradation” are not helpful in finding a specific track to pursue. Specific interests, for example “riparian management in forest ecosystems" or "remediation of toxic waste sites,” can make finding a major professor and research project much easier than broad, unfocused topics. Applicants should have a firm understanding of what they want to research, what types of research projects are currently being conducted at Oregon State, and how their interests coincide with these projects.


The Environmental Sciences Graduate Program offers a limited number of teaching assistantships. The 9-month assistantships provide a monthly stipend and tuition waiver.

A typical appointment requires service from September 16 to June 15. It is a fixed term appointment, reappointment is not automatic, and service does not contribute to any credit toward achieving tenure at higher ranks. Further terms of appointment are specified at time of appointment. Graduate students may sometimes be hired for an assistantship on a term to term basis, as opposed to a full year.

You may indicate on your application that you would like to be considered for a graduate assistantships. In addition, please upload this form to the document upload section, as type "Other", to be considered. 


We expect students to have a strong science background, but it is mostly up to your prospective major professor to decide if you have the right prior training. There are no specific requirements for our program since students can go in many different directions with their studies. Finding a major professor early in the application process is important so you can discuss your background. This discussion is sometimes the longest part of the application process.

General guidelines

  • 2XX series of biology for a year
  • year of chemistry
  • year of physics
  • math 251 and 252
  • statistics 351 and 352

Also, some environmental science courses related to your area of interest such as atmosphere, climatology, ecology, oceanography, stream ecology, water resources, hydrology, geology, earth systems science, soil science, or wildlife. You can take many of these courses at a local community college.

Finding a Major Professor

Finding a major professor is the most complicated requirement for admission to the program, and the primary reason that applicants are not admitted. Over half of our qualified applicants are denied admission because they cannot find a major professor to work with them.

Finding a major professor can be very time consuming and difficult. Professors are incredibly busy, and even the most dedicated applicant may find contacting and receiving a reply from potential major professors challenging and frustrating.

Start early and be persistent. Find faculty that share your interests, study their most recent publications and explore their future research goals. The Environmental Sciences Graduate Program allows tremendous flexibility to explore a broad range of classes and topics, so our students can work with ANY professor and even affiliated professionals in the community (note: professors must be qualified to work with graduate students, or “graduate faculty”).

This program is not a department in the traditional sense, so there is no list of faculty that works exclusively with Environmental Sciences students. We do have a list of professors that have worked with our students before, but applicants should not feel limited to this list. Remember, our students can work with individuals in any department.

Our office staff is not able to stay up-to-date with the current research projects of every professor in the university. It is the applicant's responsibility to identify and contact professors with whom they would like to work.

Keep in mind that this search can take a long time. Once your complete application has been received by the Graduate School, we will email the professor(s) listed on your application with access information to view your application. This email is rarely enough to secure a major professor, which is why applicants must contact professors directly via email, phone, mail, or personal contact. When you find professors that are interested in working with you, they can contact our office by email to gain access to your application online.

Tips on Finding a Major Professor

Selecting a major professor to mentor you through your studies is one of the most vital steps in the graduate school process. Your major professor will help you plan your courses, guide you with your research, and serve as one of your committee members. You cannot be admitted to the Environmental Sciences Graduate Program without one, so we recommend you begin the search as soon as possible.

There are several places you can search for a major professor. One is to contact people on our current faculty list who appear to have interests similar to yours. Another is to visit different OSU college websites and look through the faculty list. Some sites will list faculty that can work with graduate students.

As you contact professors let them know that you will be applying to the Environmental Sciences Graduate Program. If faculty are interested in seeing your application materials they can view your online application. Have them email us at for access information. When you contact professors let them know what you are interested in studying and how your interests and their research are related. It is also good to ask if they know of other professors working in your area of interest that you might contact.

When you find professors that you would like to work with you will probably discuss funding sources. The Environmental Sciences Graduate Program has limited funding and very few TA positions available. Most students have funding through their major professor or through private sources. The Financial Aid office is a good source of information for funding your graduate studies.

If you identify a professor who is willing to serve as your major professor, let us know and please have him/her notify us directly via email You have a better idea of your education interests and passions and can better communicate your strengths to a potential major professor, so you are the best representative for yourself. Good luck and feel free to contact us via email or by phone if you have questions.

Learn more about the responsibilities of your major professor »