Graduate Admissions and Entrance Procedures

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GPS welcomes applications from students who are interested in working full-time toward the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree. Admission to GPS's graduate program will only be granted to students who are committed to this educational track.

The application submission deadline for GPS is January 1.

Testing Requirements

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Applicants are required to submit their scores on the GRE general test. Individual option requirements for GRE subject tests are specified below.

  • Environmental Science and Engineering: Not required.
  • Geobiology: Not required.
  • Geochemistry: Subject tests are strongly recommended but not required.
  • Geology: Not required.
  • Geophysics: Not required.
  • Planetary Science: Subject tests are strongly recommended but not required.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Applicants from non-English-speaking nations are required to submit TOEFL scores as part of their application process.

Selecting an Option

Students accepted into the GPS graduate program are assigned to one of the major subject options of the division— environmental science and engineering, geobiology, geochemistry, geology, geophysics, or planetary science—based on their application request, and are given an academic adviser who is a professor associated with that option. Students may change options during their course of study, but must first obtain the approval of the new option. Each student must plan to satisfy all the requirements for the PhD degree in a single option.

Entering graduate students will meet with their option representative and discuss their preparation in the basic sciences during the week preceding the beginning of instruction in their first term at Caltech. Together, each student and representative will select a series of courses that will best prepare the student for research in his or her chosen field, while also meeting the requirements set forth below.

First-year graduate students are encouraged to register for at least nine units of research (Ge 297) during each term of residence. The primary objective of this requirement is for students to begin appreciating the excitement of discovery through their original investigations, and to provide a broad introduction to the array of research opportunities. An important byproduct can be the formulation of propositions for the PhD qualifying oral examination and/or orientation toward a PhD research topic.

Complete admissions information can be obtained from Caltech's Graduate Studies Office.