What will I learn?

The mission of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences is to further the understanding of Earth, the solar system, and their histories. The Department's scope extends from the center of Earth to the rim of the solar system, and its activities cut across traditional disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and mathematics. Our faculty, students, and staff examine Earth's interior structure, chemistry, motion, and dynamics; geologic hazards; processes affecting the surface environment; the surrounding space environment; planetary processes; and geobiology. We provide a foundation for interdisciplinary teaching and research that is based on the geologic record, and on rigorous observation and modeling of Earth's present state. Our research aims to provide a basis for making accurate predictions of future conditions.

Research in Earth and Space Sciences

Earth and Space Sciences is a broad as it sounds. We have four research groups and sixteen subgroups that are faculty are actively involved in. We encourage students to utilize multi- disciplinary resources be it departments, labs, classes, or faculty when pursing their research and many of our courses are cross listed with other environmentally focused programs.

Our faculty, staff, and students are involved in a diverse array of research projects using everything from state of the art laboratories, such as our space plasma laboratory, local resources with projects at Mt. St. Helens, and even remote field camps such as McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Students develop their own research projects based on their interests, with their advisors providing support and experience.

Research Highlights:

Discovery of the geologic record of a giant tsunami-the smoking gun of the dinosaur-killing asteroid impact.

First laboratory measurements of melting of iron under core conditions to determine Earth's deep thermal and compositional state.

Discovery of large electric fields in the upper atmosphere above thunderstorms.

First 3-D mapping of the space environment around the planets.

Strong motion records from recent earthquakes, providing the information necessary for the next generation of construction standards.

Discovery of 2.5 billion year old "whiff" of atmospheric oxygen produced by photosynthetic cyanobacteria prior to the general oxygenation of the atmosphere.

Which department am I in?

College of the Environment

Study options

Full Time (90 credit hours)

Tuition fees
US$30,832.00 per year
Start date

Expected September 2022


University of Washington

Schmitz Hall, 1410 NE Campus Parkway,



98195, United States

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Prospective graduate students must meet the following minimum requirements: Hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the U.S.1or its equivalent from a foreign institution; Have earned at least a 3.0 grade-point-average (on a 4 point scale) for the last 90 graded quarter credits or 60 graded semester credits. Other English Language Requirements: 580 paper-based TOEFL.

For international students

Prospective graduate students must meet the following minimum requirements:

Hold the minimum equivalent of a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the U.S. or its equivalent from a foreign institution or a Bologna bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 180 European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) credits.

Minimum 3.0 GPA for last two years of study preferred. Your application will be assessed holistically, meaning that all elements of your application will be considered equivalently, therefore your GPA will not be a more prominent factor in its assessment.

English Proficiency:

The Graduate School is temporarily accepting official test scores for both the Duolingo English Test and the TOEFL ITP Plus For China to assist international students with remote testing options. This policy is currently in effect through the autumn 2021 admission cycle (i.e., students enrolling in autumn 2021).

International graduate students who achieve a score of 580 (TOEFL) or 237 (TOEFL C) or 92 (TOEFL iBT) or greater on the International TOEFL (or 90 or greater on the Michigan Language Test) and a score of 55 or greater on the International Test of Spoken English (TSE) or 230 or better on the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) administered by the University of Washington (UW) may be appointed as TAs without additional language proficiency testing. The International TSE is not required for admission; however, international graduate students admitted to the Department of Earth and Space Sciences who have not taken the TSE must take the SPEAK test after their arrival to the UW.

Duolingo: Minimum Required Score (ELP Required): 105; Recommended Score (ELP Satisfied): 120 or higher

IELTS: Minimum Required Score 6.5

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.