Stanford University
Death Valley

Geological Sciences

The study of our planet and its neighbors, from their deep interiors to the surface, and through their multi-billion year history.

Graduate Admissions

The Department of Geological Sciences (GS) offers Ph.D. and M.S. programs in a wide range of fields, including surface processes, geomorphology, geomechanics, structural and regional geology, tectonics, sedimentary geology and basin analysis, life and planetary evolution, petrology, geochemistry, mineralogy and mineral physics, environmental geology, geochronology and thermochronology, and geostatistics. The breadth of research in the department provide numerous opportunities for field-based research, laboratory and numerical experiments, modern applications of instrumental analysis and spectroscopy to problems in the earth sciences.

Faculty in the GS department interact closely with other departments at Stanford, including Civil and Environmental, Mechanical, and Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Biology, Statistics, and Applied Physics. Close collaborations with industry include the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the Center for Materials Research, the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Students are encouraged to draw upon interdisciplinary projects. Complimentary programs are provided in the Departments of Geophysics, Energy Resources Engineering, and Earth System Science. A list of programs within the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences can be found here

Admissions deadline for Fall 2021-22: December 15, 2020.

If you have additional questions, contact  In accordance with Stanford's Winter closure, the GS department will be closed December 14, 2020 - January 4, 2021. Email access to staff will not be available during this time so plan accordingly. More university information and application system questions can be found on Stanford's Graduate Admissions website and the online application.

The following items must be received in the electronic application:

  • Application fee    
  • Statement of purpose
  • Supplemental application (Found in the online application)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Scanned copy of official transcript(s)
  • TOEFL, if applicable (See below for Fall 2021 application exceptions)

Official Transcripts

Upload each transcript as a single PDF file. Do not upload an unofficial transcript printed from your university website. You must obtain an official transcript and make a scanned copy to upload to the application.

If you are unable to upload a scanned copy of your official transcript you may send in an official transcript by mail or by email using a credited e-transcript service.

By mail:

Graduate Admissions Committee
Geological Sciences
450 Jane Stanford Way, Bldg 320, Rm. 118
Stanford, CA 94305-2115

By email:

We will accept official e-transcripts directly from your institution. E-transcripts should be sent to

Information about required exams

GRE - GRE scores are not required for Fall 2021 application.

TOEFL - Applicants whose first language is not English must submit TOEFL scores from a test taken within the last eighteen months. Exemptions are granted for applicants who have earned a U.S. bachelor’s or master’s degree from a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association in the United States, or equivalent of either degree from a university of recognized standing in countries where all instruction is provided in English. Please see the Graduate Admissions Office website for additional information about required exams and the TOEFL waiver.

Fall 2021 application exception: Due to COVID-19, many locations throughout China have suspended the testing of TOEFLiBT. To accommodate test takers, Educational Testing Services (ETS) is offering the TOEFL IPT Plus. The TOEFL iBT is currently required of all applicants to graduate study when English is not the first language and the applicant does not qualify for an exemption; this is a University requirement. The TOEFL ITP Plus provides paper-based TOEFL iBT Level 1 with an unscored video speaking component, provided by Vericant. Stanford will temporarily accept the TOEFL ITP Plus test with the Vericant interview for applicants from Mainland China who are unable to sit for the TOEFL iBT. This exception is requested only for the 2020-2021 application cycle. Applicants may be asked to re-test at a later time once the Stanford TOEFL iBT becomes available, or applicants may be asked to re-test through the Stanford Language Center.

Application Status

Due to the high volume of applications we cannot respond to individual inquiries about the status of documents submitted. A comprehensive review of all application materials will begin after the deadline. You will be contacted directly for any missing materials.

In accordance with Stanford's Winter closure, the GS department will be closed December 14, 2020 - January 4, 2021. Email access to staff will not be available during this time so plan accordingly. 

Funding and Support

To be considered for funding upon admission simply check the box on the admissions application that indicates that you wish to be considered for financial aid. There are no additional forms or materials to be submitted beyond the regular application.

Graduate students admitted to GS receive substantial financial aid (including tuition) from combinations of departmental fellowships, teaching or research assistantships, and other sources (including external fellowships). The department's funding package covers up to 10 units of tuition and provides a quarterly salary. Please note on your application if you are receiving other fellowships, government funding, or company financial support.

External Funding - Prospective students are strongly encouraged to apply for external fellowships, such as the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, or Department of Defense fellowships. If the external fellowship is not sufficient to cover the standard department support level, a supplement will be provided by the University, the department or a research advisor. These fellowships strongly enhance your resume for your future career.

Knight-Hennessy Scholars

Knight-Hennessy Scholars develops a community of future global leaders to address complex challenges through collaboration and innovation. This year, the program will award up to 75 high-achieving students with full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford, including full-time master's and doctoral students in Geological Sciences. To be considered you must apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by their deadline found here and separately apply to the Department of Geological Sciences by our deadline.

Graduate Admissions FAQs

Questions? See our FAQs

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