Students and faculty at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) address the challenges of managing and stewarding environmental resources and their products using multiple strategies, perspectives and disciplines. Students with a variety of undergraduate majors are eligible to apply to the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) graduate programs. These include, but are not limited to: biology, botany, chemistry, economics, environmental engineering, environmental policy, environmental studies, horticulture, marketing, mathematics, psychology, and sociology.

Prospective SEFS graduate students interested in the M.S. or Ph.D. should contact faculty who they are interested in working with to discuss their interests and determine whether they are accepting graduate students. As a graduate student, you will be taking courses and working on a research project under the guidance of one or more faculty mentors who will help you design and execute your project, and who will provide you with guidance as you navigate graduate school and look for a future career. Success depends on having a good working relationship with this mentor, and having effective communication about the expectations for working with them. The SEFS graduate advisor can be reached at sefsgpa@uw.edu and can also help respond to your questions.

Note: For Autumn 2021 admission, GRE scores are not required and will not be considered in the applicant review and admission decision process.

Note: The Master of Environmental Horticulture (MEH) program is not accepting students for admission during the 2020-2021 and the 2021-2022 academic years.

Application Deadlines

SEFS graduate faculty review applications and admit students annually, with the expectation that students begin at the autumn quarter.

We begin accepting applications after Aug. 1, and to be considered for fellowship funding, all applicants (domestic and international) must complete the Online Application for Graduate Study at the University of Washington by Dec. 1. Note that within that application, there is also a specific questionnaire we have added for some of the SEFS programs; be sure to fill that in as well. Other applications will be considered if completed by March 1, but will not be considered for SEFS funding.

Applicants to the Ph.D. program must hold a master’s degree prior to beginning their doctoral studies. Prospective students who have not earned a master’s degree before the start of autumn quarter may only apply to the MS program, and may be permitted to continue on to earn a Ph.D. with faculty approval.

Application Review Process

Every application for SEFS graduate study is reviewed by at least three faculty members, who strive to use a holistic review approach in order to recognize a broad set of achievements including academic achievement, potential for success in conducting research, and evidence of motivation, persistence, and leadership. In addition to traditional measures of academic performance (i.e., transcript, letters of recommendation, writing quality), other considerations include:

  • Academic excellence and growth
  • Strong work ethic and ability to progress toward a goal
  • Perseverance in the face of academic or other life challenges
  • Research experience in related field(s), publication or other activities
  • Experience with diverse cultures/ecological/socioeconomic environments
  • Potential for or demonstrated experience with positively contributing to a community that values equity, inclusion, and diversity

Applicants should review our faculty profiles to determine whether their research background, interests and objectives fit with one (or more) faculty, and contact them directly to find out more about their research and whether they are accepting graduate students. During the application process, applicants will be asked to identify at least three faculty with whom they would be interested in working with if they are admitted.

For autumn 2021 applicants, GRE scores are not required and will not be considered in the applicant review and admission decision process.

Applicant Checklist

We begin accepting applications after Aug. 1, and to be considered for fellowship funding, all applicants (domestic and international) must complete the Online Application for Graduate Study at the University of Washington, and the SEFS application by Dec. 1. Other applications will be considered if completed by March 1, but will not be considered for SEFS funding.

Steps specified by SEFS:

  • M.S. and Ph.D. students should contact the faculty member(s) with whom you are interested in working. In the online application process, applicants will be asked to identify at least three faculty they would like to work with. MFR and MEH applicants are reviewed by a panel of faculty.
  • Submit a resume/CV
  • Designate recommendations. Three letters of recommendation are requested, and the application system will immediately email recommendation writers after their information is entered into the application; further instructions for uploading and transmitting their recommendations will be included in that email. Please do not select the “postal mail” option; we only accept electronic recommendations. Recommendations should be from faculty or scientists familiar with the applicant’s academic achievements and/or research experience. Applicants who have been out of school for some time may include recommendations from employers, but all efforts should be made to include at least one letter from academic faculty.
  • Scan and submit unofficial transcripts from all colleges or universities attended (official sealed copies will be required if accepted). For admission, applicants are expected to have maintained a minimum 3.0 GPA in the 90 most recent quarter credits, or 60 most recent semester credits.
  • Official TOEFL scores must be reported by all non-native English speakers to UW institution code 4854.  The University of Washington no longer accepts IELTS or other types of English language scores.  SEFS uses the requirements as provided by Memo 8: Graduate School English Language Proficiency Requirements.  Our school considers test scores valid for two years and submitted scores on your application must be valid on the date of the application deadline, December 1.
      • SEFS requires a minimum TOEFL overall score of 92 for our incoming graduate students.
      • Memo 8 does list a few individual exceptions.  If you wish to apply under any of those exceptions, you will need to contact the Graduate School, and please also cc our Graduate Advisor for SEFS as well.  Here are those contacts:
      • Due to the current pandemic health crises the university has implemented some temporary measures for alternative tests that will be accepted.  You will find these listed as well on the page for Memo 8.
      • If you are hoping to obtain Teaching Assistantships as part of your financial support immediately upon entry to the UW, you will need to meet the score and testing criteria of Memo 15: Conditions of Appointment for TAs who are not Native Speakers of English.  This is a more stringent requirement whereby you will need to meet a minimum TOEFL Overall score of 92, and, a minimum TOEFL Speak score of 26.
  • GRE scores: For Autumn 2021 applicants, GRE scores are not required and will not be considered in the applicant review and admission decision process.
  • Submit your Statement of Purpose: The statement of purpose assists faculty reviewers in assessing applicants in terms of their achievements and potential, and how these factors have been influenced by the opportunities and challenges experienced by the applicant. During the online application process, applicants will be asked to submit a statement of purpose. This should be no more than 1000 words, and can be uploaded into the application as a Word, PDF, RTF or plain text document.
  • The statement should clearly address:
    • Why are you interested in graduate studies at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences?
    • Briefly describe a potential research question or area that you find compelling.
    • How have your past experiences (education, research, leadership, extracurricular, community involvement, special talents or skills, other) prepared you for graduate studies?
    • What aspects of your background (learning differences, hardships or barriers overcome, educational, cultural, geographic, other) have prepared you for graduate studies?
    • Where do you see yourself after graduate school?

Incomplete applications will not be considered. We begin making admission offers in February, and all applicants will receive notification of an admission decision by April 15.

Steps specified by The Graduate School:

  • Select Your Graduate Program
  • Review Requirements and Deadlines
  • Review Checklist of Application Materials
  • Report Prior Schools
  • Print Application
  • Pay Fee and Submit Application (if you need a fee waiver, go here.)

Application Timeline:

  • Aug. 1: Online application system opens
  • Dec. 1: Deadline for domestic and international applications for priority funding consideration
  • March 1: Deadline for all applications (Applications completed before Dec. 1 will receive priority consideration for funding)
  • Dec. – April: Faculty members review and evaluate all applications
  • Feb. 1: Offers of admission will begin to be sent
  • April 15: Applicant deadline to accept or decline an admission offer from SEFS

UW Graduate School Resources:

The UW Graduate School Resources for Graduate Students page has information on:

  • Graduate Education: Policies, Guidelines, Goals and Initiatives
  • Finances: Support, Aid, Work
  • Life: UW living for TAs, Academic Student Employee Unionization, Employees, Parents
  • GPSS: The Graduate and Professional Student Senate
  • Career Development: Life after Graduate School

If you have additional questions, please contact the SEFS Graduate Advisor at sefsgpa@uw.edu.

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