Department of Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences

Applying to the Program

Learn more about the application process, funding opportunities, and support contacts.

The application deadline is January 5.

Applications are received and processed by the Brown Graduate School.

Students are advised to contact faculty members about their research interests before applying. GRE scores are not considered. 

Ph.D. Applicant FAQ

All faculty members meet early- to mid-February to consider all applications. They look at:

  1. Undergraduate courses (including overall GPA, GPA trajectory, and rigor of courses)
  2. Letters of recommendation
  3. Personal statement
  4. Research experience
  5. Proof of language proficiency (if appropriate)

No single factor outweighs the others; we undertake a holistic review of each application to arrive at a balanced assessment of academic and professional promise. Connection to and relevant background in the research area of interest is important, as is GPA in latter years of undergraduate enrollment, relevant work, lab, or extra-curricular activities, and strong letters of reference and self-statements.

GRE scores are not considered for applications to the Ph.D. program in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, and cannot be uploaded in the application process.

The interests of doctoral applicants should be focused (and match those of one or more specific faculty members). Evidence of ability to carry out independent research is especially desirable.  

Application Info

Closing date for online applications is January 5th. Departmental review of applications will begin on January 1st and applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their application by this date. 

Applicants should expect to be notified by formal letter within eight to twelve weeks (late March or early April) of the January 5th deadline. While the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences evaluates all applicants, offers of admission are binding only when made in writing by the Dean of the Graduate School.

Admission may, in some cases, be deferred. Applications that are submitted after the January deadline will be reviewed and considered for fall or spring semester admission at the discretion of the department.

Contacts for Questions

Funding & Support

In 2006, the Graduate School began offering incoming DEEPS doctoral students five years of guaranteed financial support from Brown. Therefore, full tuition and health insurance payments with competitive monthly stipends to cover living expenses are provided for all admitted Ph.D. students. A few highly selective fellowships are also available for Ph.D. applicants with exceptional academic records.

It is important to note that the Graduate School has not made a policy decision that doctoral students must complete their degrees within five years. In fact, the Graduate School has never prohibited funding students who are beyond their fifth year. Some students in this type of situation may receive teaching assistantships, others may receive tuition scholarships, and others may be funded by their advisor's research grant(s).

There are several types of funding available to graduate students, and support types can change from semester to semester, or year to year. The major source of funds for DEEPS graduate students are listed below:

  1. University Fellowship
  2. Teaching Assistant (TA)
  3. Research Assistant (RA)
  4. External Funding Sources (NASA, NSF, etc.)

Visiting the Department

As is the case at all universities, faculty vary from year to year in their need for additional students, and in the resources they have available to support them (lab space, research funding, etc.). Applicants are encouraged to start a dialog with the faculty they are most interested in working with even before the application process begins. This is most easily accomplished via email. Applicants should simply introduce themselves, describe their academic background, and explain why their own interests seem a good match to the research being done within the department. Another way applicants can get a feel for the department and its culture is to contact the graduate students who are advised by the faculty member(s) they'd most like to work with.

Applicants who receive an acceptance letter from the Graduate School should feel free to make arrangements to come visit the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences. This is done informally, and arranged between the faculty advisor and the accepted student. Frequently, visiting prospective students stay with graduate students working in their area of interest. Visiting prospective students generally have a chance to speak with other DEEPS faculty, enjoy a meal (or two) with potential student peers, and get a tour of the department itself – all of which can be accomplished in a day. There is funding available to help defray the cost of these visits.