Graduate Program FAQ

Q: I missed the February 1st application deadline. Should I bother finishing my application?
A: Yes, you should definitely complete the application process. We will review your completed application.


Q: Who do I contact with general questions about your program and professors?
A: Dr. Alycia Stigall ( is our Graduate Chair. He will try to answer your questions and you are welcome to contact him before you apply.


Q: Do you offer financial aid?
A: Yes, we competitively award teaching and research assistantships with free tuition and a stipend (paycheck). The assistantships do not cover fees. We also use graduate fellowships to assist students and these too include free tuition, but they do not include a stipend or cover course fees. Separately from the assistantships, we have alumni-sponsored scholarships for in-residence graduate students.


Q: What GPA is required?
A: Applicants must have a 3.0 (B) or higher GPA to be eligible for financial support. It is possible to be accepted with a sub-3.0 GPA as an unsupported, probationary graduate student if the applicant has shown potential in other ways. Our graduate chair can answer questions about this possibility.


Q: Do you require the GRE subject test?
A: No.


Q: Can I apply online?
A: Yes, the entire process is online here.


Q: How many personal references do I need?
A: Three. They can be former employers, instructors, advisors, or persons otherwise having had a professional or academic experience with you.


Q: Am I required to visit campus as part of the application process?
A: No. We encourage and assist with visits, but in no way require them.


Q: What should my letter of intent say?
A: Applicants are required to write one- to three-page letter giving a brief summary of their background and why they are interested in geology and a Masters thesis (err on the longer side). Ideally, the letter writer will tell us what areas of geology they find most interesting. But the letter must specify one or more professors with whom the applicant would work and what the applicant finds interesting about the professor’s research. We do not need a picture.


Q: How many graduate students are in the department?
A: The number fluctuates year-to-year, but very roughly 20 full-time graduate students. (We have roughly 100 undergraduate geology majors.)


Q: How expensive is Athens?
A: Compared to large cities, such as Columbus or Cincinnati, Athens is very affordable and it is easily possible to live close to campus (no need to commute!). The stipends we provide teaching and research assistants are sufficient to live in Athens during the school year if they manage their finances well.


Q: What about out-of-state tuition?
A: Students covered by an assistantship or graduate fellowship do not pay their own tuition, so no need to worry. Unsupported students must meet Ohio University’s criteria for being in state.

Collecting data during a class field trip.
Credit: Dr. Gregory Springer