Welcome to our Prospective Student’s page, where you can find more information about the Earth and Environmental Science (EES) Program admissions process. Whether you seek admission to the Geography Specialization or the Environmental and Geological Sciences Specialization, this website will answer many of your questions about the application process and provide you with some tips for crafting a successful application dossier. We are proud of the diverse and innovative interests of our faculty and doctoral students, and we welcome you to explore our website and department blog. If you live nearby or are visiting New York City, we also invite you to attend our Thursday afternoon Departmental Colloquium and Reception, which begins at 5:30pm.
If you are considering applying to our program, please read the information below. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact Professor Monica Varsanyi, Chair of the EES Admissions Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Best of luck with your application!
Prof. Monica W. Varsanyi
Chair, EES Admissions Committee
Admission to the EES Program is extremely competitive. The Admissions Committee is made up of ten professors and four doctoral students. Completed applications—including test scores and letters of reference—are due on December 15 each year. The Committee considers completed applications throughout January and February, and admitted students are notified of their admissions status from February through mid-April. We admit an incoming cohort of approximately fourteen students each year. Every admitted applicant receives a five-year tuition fellowship, and a variety of additional five-year funding packages and other opportunities are available.
Completed applications must include the following:
An applicant statement
2-3 letters of reference from current or former professors or others familiar with your work
A writing sample
Transcripts: undergraduate (and masters, if applicable)
Test scores: GRE (and TOEFL, if an international student)
For general information on the application process, please visit the Graduate Center’s Admissions Office website for Admission Requirements and and Application Deadlines. For more information on Funding and Fellowships, please visit the Graduate Center’s Office for Institutional Aid.
The EES Admissions Committee looks for three main qualities in an applicant: (1) a record of past accomplishment; (2) qualities that indicate potential for success as a doctoral student; and (3) a good fit with our program.
A record of past accomplishment
The Admissions Committee considers each element of your application to evaluate your past accomplishments. Your transcripts offer a clear record of your grades, but you may also wish to highlight an aspect of your past record or experience--not evident in your transcripts--in your applicant statement. We accept students with Bachelors degrees, as well as those with Masters degrees, with no priority placed on either group.
Potential for success in a doctoral program
A doctoral program offers rigorous training to become a professional research scholar. Each element of your application dossier provides us with crucial information that helps us determine your potential for success in this regard. In assessing your potential for doctoral study, the Admissions Committee puts considerable weight on your applicant statement, letters of recommendation, and writing sample. In that light, be sure to obtain letters of recommendation from current or former professors, or others, who can speak knowledgeably and frankly about your scholarly achievements and potential. And be sure to craft your applicant statement very carefully, as it is central to your application dossier. Your writing sample is also an opportunity for you to demonstrate your critical and analytical acumen and ability to synthesize data in a coherent fashion. You can submit a paper you wrote for a course, a lab report, a published conference abstract, a published article, book chapter, or essay; or a chapter from your thesis. Please do not submit anything longer than 15-20 pages. Finally, the Admissions Committee regards GRE Test scores as one component in the overall application. We do not have a minimum GRE score for admission, and have sometimes accepted applicants with low scores on portions of the GRE when other parts of the application were strong.
A good fit
In a Ph.D. program, a good fit between an applicant and the program is essential. Prior to assembling your application materials, be sure to identify several faculty members in the EES program who share your research interests and with whom you would be interested in taking courses. It is very helpful if you contact those faculty directly as you are assembling your application, to gauge their interest in your work. Please also mention those faculty members in your applicant statement, and discuss why the EES program and the CUNY Graduate Center would be an appropriate place for you to pursue your doctoral training.
A great applicant statement:
Articulates a particular topic area in which you propose to do research, and elaborates on this research agenda.
Positions your proposed project within an ongoing scholarly conversation: how do you connect your work to existing work in the field, and propose to build on it and add something new?
Connects your scholarly passions to your personal motivations for taking on the work (this can take many forms).
Shows an awareness of your field, but can also be understood by people outside your field. Your statement of purpose should demonstrate your ability to articulate critical and analytical ideas in an accessible (not over-inflated) manner.
Shows how your academic background has prepared you to do this work.
Speaks to why you want to study in the EES doctoral program specifically. You should make mention of those faculty members with whom you are interested in working, explain why you are interested more broadly in the EES Program and the CUNY Graduate Center, and discuss why you want to study and teach at a public urban university serving a diverse body of students in NYC.
Is beautifully written, not just free of mistakes or errors, but possessing real style and verve (to achieve this, read it out loud as often as possible and share it with a wide variety of readers).
Is a manageable length. We don’t have a length requirement for applicant statements, but successful statements are typically 2-3 pages, single-spaced.
A maximum of 30 acceptable graduate credits taken prior to admission to the EES Doctoral Program may be applied toward the degree provided the courses were completed with a grade of B or higher within an appropriate period preceding the time of application and are equivalent to comparable courses at the City University. Transfer credits are considered after the student has passed his or her First Doctoral Examination, usually in the second year of study.
All students admitted to the EES Doctoral Program will receive full tuition fellowships for five years of study. U.S. citizens and permanent residents are required to establish New York State residency to maintain full tuition coverage in years 2-5. Many students will also receive five-year Graduate Center Fellowships (GCFs) that include stipend/research support of $25,000 annually, or five-year Science Fellowships that include stipend/research support of a minimum of $24,000 annually. All students whether U.S. citizens or not are eligible for these funding packages. The Graduate Center also offers Magnet Fellowships for a small number of selected students from historically underrepresented groups providing tuition and an annual award of $35,000. Federal and State financial aid in the form of grants, loans, and work-study are also available for students who qualify. A variety of other fellowships are offered by the Graduate Center including a limited number of Dissertation Fellowships for advanced doctoral candidates who are completing their dissertations. Detailed information on these awards and other options for support is available on the Financial Aid webpage. Students applying for admission are encouraged to apply at the same time for external aid for which they might be eligible, including National Science Foundation and Ford Foundation Fellowships. Applicants from outside the U.S. should apply for their own government programs where they exist.
Additionally, the Doctoral Students Research Grants (DSRG) Program provides funds (from $500-$2000) annually on a competitive basis that students can use to fund preliminary summer fieldwork or to attend conferences. Other funding is available for travel and research through the EES Program, the Advanced Research Collaborative, and various Centers and Institutes at the Graduate Center.
At a time when the job market in many fields is tough to negotiate, the GC offers unusually robust support for your post-PhD career, in keeping with the directions your research interests, skills, and priorities take you. In addition to the support given to you by the faculty in your program, the GC provides workshops, resources, and one-on-one support for a wide range of career-related questions. Involved offices include:
- The Early Research Initiative offers summer fellowships for exploratory research in archives, museums, field sites, special collections, laboratories, and research centers across the globe. These fellowships aim to support students at the pre-dissertation proposal stage in order to help them refine and develop more advanced individualized research agendas.
- The Futures Initiative organizes workshops, team-taught interdisciplinary courses, and workshops aimed at empowering the next generation of intellectual leaders with bold, publicly engaged teaching and learning. One of its goals is helping interested students produce world-class research that is presented in a form outside of the box of the conventional monograph-style dissertation.
- The GC Digital Initiatives provides training in digital pedagogy, supports working groups devoted to training in Python, Text Analysis, and GIS, and offers fellowships and grants in videography, in social media, and in digital innovation.
- The Office of Career Planning and Professional Development offers individual career advising to students, including advice on CVs, résumés, and other job search materials, assistance with preparing for interviews, and discussions of career planning strategies. The office also hosts a substantial amount of career-related programs and workshops, including sessions with GC alumni.
- The Teaching & Learning Center prepares new college teachers for their entry into the classroom. The TLC provides training in the use of educational technologies, the praxis of writing across the curriculum, and the teaching of quantitative reasoning. In addition to workshops and seminars, the TLC also fosters focused inquiry groups on such topics as museum education and environmental justice.
- The Quantitative Research Consulting Center provides resources and support for research in quantitative and empirical research. The Center complements existing statistics coursework by bridging the gap between the classroom and implementation in researchers’ own work.
- Over thirty interdisciplinary research centers and institutes are located at the Graduate Center. A number of them, including the Advanced Research Collaborative, The Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, The Committee on Globalization and Social Change, The Committee for Interdisciplinary Science Studies, and The Committee for the Study of Religion offer mid-career and dissertation level fellowships that enable students to join interdisciplinary working groups.
- The Graduate Center has established internships and collaborative partnerships with the Morgan Library, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the New-York Historical Society, the New York Botanical Garden, the Vera Institute for Justice, the Center for Court Innovation, The Brooklyn Rail, the Global Fund for Women, and Open House New York.
Our career support is provided by staff and faculty who are actively involved in the national conversation on doctoral education and post-PhD careers. The offices and initiatives mentioned above also organize varied programming that supports, challenges, and excites GC graduate students. Recent events and series include:
- Twitter for Academics
- Intro to Tools for Collaborative Research
- Working in Archives and Special Collections
- Still Share: Data Viz, Where Data Meets Design
- Writing Next: Pitching to Broader Audiences (NEH Next Gen Phd Seminar)
- Careers in Research outside of Academia
- Careers in the Arts and Cultural Production
- Behind the Scenes with a Faculty Search Committee
- An Alt-Ac/Industry Job Search Timeline
- A Faculty Job Search Timeline
- Futures Initiative (FI) Dialogues From Dissertation to First Book
We hope you’ll take advantage of these resources from the first day you arrive. Recent analysis of a ten-year cohort of GC alumni revealed that about 68% of our graduates work in education, 4% in government, 8% in non-profit, 14% in the for-profit sector, and 6% are self-employed. Wherever your studies may take you, we are here to help you get there.
The Graduate Center fosters an inclusive culture and diversity among its students, faculty, and staff. Click here to learn more Diversity and Inclusion.
Feel free to browse our website for more information: Office of the Provost.
Doctoral study is a full-time endeavor. Our students are discouraged from working outside the opportunities offered within the program while pursuing their doctoral degrees, though exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis on the recommendation of the Program Executive Officer (EO), Deputy EO, and/or the student’s advisor. In the first and second years of the program, students generally take 3 courses per semester, including several required courses. All students take The Nature of Scientific Research (EES 704), the Dissertation Proposal Workshop (EES 802), and two semesters of Current Issues in Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES 79901). Additionally, Geography students are required to take Geographic Thought and Theory (EES 709). Environmental and Geological Sciences students are required to take Earth Systems I: Origin and Evolution of Earth and Life (EES 716) and Earth Systems II: Earth’s Energy Networks (EES 717). Including these required courses, at least 60 credits of approved graduate courses are required for the degree.
Please see our Alumni page for a list of recent dissertations.
In recent years graduates of the EES Program have been appointed to faculty positions at University of Washington Bothell, Temple University, University of the District of Columbia, Bellevue College, University of Tampa, Portland State University, University of Houston, among others; and Post-Doctoral Fellowships at Dartmouth College, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Lamont-Doherty Research Laboratories at Columbia University, and the Miesel Research Group at Michigan State University; or are employed in a variety of organizations such as ClimateNexus, Winnipeg Arcades Project, Marine Resources Council, Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative, and NOAA.