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Applying to the Graduate Program

Graduate Research

The Department of Geology welcomes applicants who possess an undergraduate degree in geology or an allied field and who wish to pursue advanced studies. Graduate degrees offered include the Master of Science in Geology (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Geology (Ph.D.). Students enrolling in the graduate program are expected to have completed undergraduate or graduate course work in mineralogy (Earth Materials I), petrology (Earth Materials II), structural geology, sedimentology and stratigraphy, and a five-week (or longer) geological field camp prior to the completion of their degree. These courses may be completed by applicants prior to entering the graduate program or while enrolled at Kent State University.  If completed at the graduate level, these courses may count toward the graduate program of study.

For additional information regarding the application process, please contact the Geology Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Joseph D. Ortiz.

Areas of Focus

Applicants to the M.S. and Ph.D. programs can focus in one or more of these three research areas:

Environmental and Engineering Geology

Invertebrate Paleontology

Quaternary Studies and Climate Change

See how our graduates are using their degrees at our Alumni News page.

Financial Support

Funding decisions are made on a separate basis from admission, so it is possible to be admitted, but not funded for graduate study. Most graduate students receive financial aid in the form of Teaching Assistantships, Research Assistantships, federal fellowships, or other types of scholarships. All applicants who receive unconditional admission are automatically considered for a potential teaching appointment as part of the application process. University Teaching Assistantships currently provide nine-month stipends of $13,000 for M.S.- level students and $16,000 for Ph.D. students, with an exemption from all instructional and out-of-state fees. As part of the application process for a University Teaching Assistantship, we may conduct phone interviews for any applicants with degrees exclusively from non-English speaking programs or whose native language is not English to determine their suitability for a teaching appointment.

Application Requirements

Unconditional Admission Requirements

Applicants with unconditional admission are eligible to receive departmental funding starting in their first year.   All applications are evaluated on a range of admission criteria:

  • Applicants with a U.S. Bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) as their highest degree should apply to the M.S. program.
  • Applicants with a U.S. Master’s degree (or its equivalent) as their highest degree should apply to the Ph.D. program.
  • All applicants are required to submit GRE exam scores completed within the last five years. We do not implement a minimum GRE score, but more competitive applications have GRE scores above the 40th percentile. The GRE provides a metric against which all applicants can be evaluated.
  • International applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency as documented by the TOEFL exam. The TOEFL exam is required for any applicants with degrees which are exclusively from non-English speaking programs or whose native language is not English. See below for additional information.
  • Grade point average (GPA) of 3.000 or greater on a 4.000 scale for all degrees or academic work in which the applicant was enrolled. A weighted average GPA will be calculated for all coursework that was conducted at multiple institutions at the same academic level. If the average GPA you earned from your prior institutions was calculated on a different scale, it will be converted to a 4.0 scale by the Division of Graduate Studies or the Office of Global Education as appropriate during the application process.
  • Applicants who are still enrolled at the time of their application are required to submit final official transcripts at the completion of their degree program. Their admission will be conditional on receipt of an official final transcript (Designated "conditional admit transcript" on university correspondence).

Conditional Admission Requirements

Applicants who do not meet the minimum university and/or program requirements may petition in rare circumstances, for conditional admission on a case by case basis. There are two categories of conditional admit – "academic conditional admits" and "language-requirement conditional admits". Applicants with any GPA below 3.0 must apply for an academic conditional admission. In general, the department does not make offers of academic conditional admission for applicants with a GPA below 2.750 on any academic degree. Applicants with a graduate degree GPA above 3.0, but an undergraduate GPA below 3.0 may be required to petition for academic conditional admission on a case by case basis.  

Applicants who meet all unconditional admissions requirements with the exception of the university's minimum English language requirement can apply to the University's English as a Second Language (ESL) program at the applicant's expense prior to seeking admission to the Department of Geology. Successful completion of appropriate ESL courses at Kent State can be used to document proof of English proficiency, but does not assure subsequent admission to the Department of Geology, which is determined on a competitive basis.

Conditional admission will depend heavily on various indices of the student’s ability to handle graduate-level work. These may include:
  • Strong performance on the GRE
  • A strong GPA in courses relevant to the major
  • Experiences that are clearly indicative of their ability to complete graduate-level work (for example, a strong publication record in a relevant field or relevant employment experience)
  • In the case of a language-based conditional admit, a TOEFL score generally within 10 points of the university or program English Language Admission requirement is needed.
Applicants who receive conditional admission in these two catagories are ineligible to receive university-related funding until the conditions of admission are lifted, which generally requires completing nine credit hours of graduate work with a 3.00 GPA or better in all classes enrolled. Applicants with conditional admission are eligible to compete for departmental funding if they have cleared their conditions of admission, generally by the end of their second semester in the program.

Application Timeline

All applications must be completed online. Applicants should generally apply for Fall term enrollment. We open the application process for Fall term on July 1 of the year prior to the start of the term. We usually make offers of financial support for incoming students to start their graduate work during the Fall term. Applicants who can provide their own funding are welcome to apply for entry during the Spring term.  Students who enter the program using their own funds, satisfy any conditions of admission and remain in good standing can apply for departmental funding during the following Fall term. Please make sure to allow sufficient time for your letters of reference, official transcripts and GRE scores to arrive and be processed prior to the application deadline. 

Applications for the Fall term can be started anytime after July 1 of the preceding year. Because of the length of time necessary to process applications from students with international degrees, applicants with non-US degrees should submit application materials by December 15 of the year preceding their intended year of enrollment.  

To receive full consideration for financial support, all application materials must be submitted to Kent State University in sufficient time for the Division of Graduate Studies to process and forward the applicant's file to the Department of Geology by January 15 for August admission. 

After January 15, applications can still be submitted, however we will have begun the process of evaluating applications and will continue to do so until all funds are allocated for the Fall start date. Applications must be completed online. 

All application materials submitted are first evaluated and certified by the Office of Graduate Program Services or the Office of Global Education as appropriate. Please do not send any application materials to the Department of Geology as this will slow the processing of your file. Your application will not be considered complete and released to the Department of Geology until all application materials are received by the Office of Graduate Program Services or the Office of Global Education. An incomplete application will delay the decision process.  Begin the application process online at the Online Application System.

Application Materials

A complete application includes all of the following materials as described in steps 1-6 below:  

1. Online Kent State University graduate application

Applications for graduate school at Kent State University must be submitted online using the links provided below. The Department of Geology accepts applications for the Masters of Science (M.S.) in Geology and Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Applied Geology. The department requires all applicants for the Ph.D. to hold a US M.S. degree or its equivalent as determined by the Office of Global Education at Kent State University. US Citizens and Permanent Residents of the US should use the "Domestic Applicants" link below. All other applicants should use the "International Applicants" link below.  If you have a question regarding which link or program is appropriate for you, please contact the Geology Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Joseph D. Ortiz.

2. Statement of Career Goals

All applicants are required to submit a statement of purpose describing their current academic interests, their long-range career goals, and how they feel that admission to the graduate program in geology at Kent State will help them achieve these goals. Please provide your statement of career goals following the instructions provided in the online university application or upload your statement using the online application upload utility link provided in Step 4 below.

3. Three letters of recommendation

These are required as part of the KSU application process. The University will contact your recommenders based on the information that you provide on your online university application, however you may follow up with them to ensure a timely completion for your application. Please do not ask your recommenders to send their letters directly to the Department of Geology as this will slow the processing of your file. Letters should be submitted directly to the Office of Graduate Program Services or the Office of Global Education as appropriate following the instructions that are provided to the recommenders. Applicants should provide their recommenders with the your application I.D. to prevent delays when processing letters of recommendation.

Applicants should provide their recommenders with the recommendation form listed below. Applicants should complete the top part of the form before sending the form to the recommenders. The recommenders may attach a written letter as well. The completed letter of recommendation can be uploaded (by the recommender or the applicant) using the upload utility in step 4 of the application process.

4. Online Application Upload Utility for Supporting Documents (Statement of Career Goals, Letters of Recommendation, Resume or Curriculum Vitae)

Applicants can use the links provided in the online application or the link to the secure form below to submit a statement of career goals, letters of recommendation, resume or curriculum vitae or other supporting documents. Letters of recommendation can also be submitted by the recommender using this upload utility. Applicants should provide their recommenders with the their application I.D. to prevent delays when processing letters of recommendation. If you submit documents using this utility, please do not mail them as well. You will receive an email notification when your document(s) have been processed.

Please do not submit official transcripts using this form. All official transcripts must come directly from a previous institution. 

5. Official academic transcripts

Kent State University requires official transcripts for any academic programs in which you are enrolled and for all academic degrees that you have completed. All official transcripts should be sent to the Office of Graduate Program Services or the Office of Global Education as appropriate using one of the addresses listed below:

Domestic Applicants (US Citizens and Permanent residents):

Office of Graduate Program Services
Division of Graduate Studies
Kent State University
P.O. Box 5190
Kent, OH 44242-0001

International Applicants:

Office of Global Education
Kent State University
106 Van Campen Hall
625 Loop Road
Kent OH 44242 USA

6. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Scores

The Department of Geology does not implement a minimum GRE score to apply, but requires all applicants to the graduate program to have completed the GRE exam. This provides a metric against which all applicants can be evaluated. The TOEFL exam is required for any applicants with degrees which are exclusively from non-English speaking programs or whose native language is not English. The University requires official documentation of one of the following minimum TOEFL scores as proof of English proficiency.

The Department of Geology prefers that applicants take the TOEFL internet Based Test (iBT) when available.

Exam    Paper Based (pBT)
Computer Based (cBT)
Internet Based (iBT)

TOEFL    525    197    71   

An official MELAB score of 77 or greater or an IELTS score of 6 or greater are also acceptable documentation of English proficiency.  Additional information can be found on the Admissions Office English Language Proficiency Requirements web page. Both the GRE and the TOEFL exams are administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Information about these exams are available from the ETS website and the University's online application instructions. Please indicate that official scores should be mailed directly to the Kent State University Department of Geology by ETS either at the time the exam is taken or by contacting ETS as described on the ETS website. Kent State uses the GRE Department code for "Geological Sciences", and the TOEFL Department Code for "Geology".

The ETS institution and department codes for Kent State University are as follows:

Exam    Institution Code

GRE    1367   
TOEFL    1367   

Your GRE scores and, if appropriate, TOEFL scores and TOEFL test format should also be noted on the Department Graduate Information Form. You will receive a link to this form once you complete Step 1 of the application process.

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