The Admission Process

The Admission Process

Applying to the GGE

Apply to the Graduate Group in Ecology using the convenient online UC Davis Graduate Studies admissions application system.  The application fee is $105 (US) or $125 (international).

You may apply to multiple graduate programs during a single admissions period. You must file a complete application for each program, including a new online application and application fee.


The deadline for all ecology programs is December 15th.

Holistic Review 

The Graduate Group in Ecology (GGE) evaluates applicants using holistic review, which is an evidence-based approach to identify people that are likely to be successful in independent ecology research regardless of what ecology research opportunities may have been available to them prior to their application. Many criteria are considered when reviewing individual applications for admission into the GGE:

  1. Strong work ethic and ability to progress toward a goal
  2. Creativity to link ecological ideas in novel ways
  3. Leadership and motivation to do service and outreach
  4. Academic excellence and growth
  5. Perseverance in the face of academic or other life challenges
  6. Adaptability to balance focus and flexibility
  7. Research experience in related field(s)
  8. Experience with diverse cultures/ecological/socioeconomic environments

To read more about some of the research behind holistic review, please see Strassun et al. (2010)Stassun et al. (2011)Powell (2013)Victoroff and Boyatzis (2013)Miller and Stassun (2014).

GRE Scores

Verbal, Quantitative and Analytical GRE scores are required of all applicants, and are used as one metric of academic merit within the holistic review process.The Educational Testing Service will not report test scores that are older than five years. If this applies to you, you should retake the exam. GRE scores to be sent to institution code 4834major field code 0207. Please ask ETS to forward electronic scores to this institution and department code.

English Language Exam Scores

All international students not having English as a first language, or who have not studied at an institution where English is the language of instruction, must submit an official TOEFL or IELTS score. The minimum acceptable TOEFL score is 550 (paper based test) or 80 (internet based test). The minimum acceptable IELTS score is 7.0. If admitted, an international student may also be required by the university to complete an English proficiency examination upon arrival at the university and, depending upon the result of this exam, may be required to take English language courses.


UC Davis requires academic records (i.e. transcripts including a GPA) from each college-level institution you have attended, and are used as one metric of academic merit within the holistic review. You are also encouraged to use your other application materials to frame your grades in a context that best reflects you. For instance, working full time to support yourself or your family may have lowered your grades, but it also demonstrates work ethic, adaptability, and perseverance in the face of life challenges so would be a welcome topic in your statement of purpose or your letters of recommendation. You will be instructed to upload scanned copies of your transcripts after you have submitted your online application.  For more details visit

Letters of Recommendation

Writers of recommendation letters may reflect a mix of backgrounds (academic or employment). Three letters of recommendation are required, but you should seek to include at least two who are qualified to evaluate the quality of your scholastic achievements and academic training as well as your ability to carry out independent research. This is especially important if you have previous research experience. One character or personal recommendation is permissible. It is helpful to tell your references to address those characteristics that are important to your admission (e.g., the traits outlined above that are considered in our holistic review).

Statement of Purpose

Your statement of purpose is one of the most important components of your application, and is the key to helping you and your prospective major professor decide whether the Graduate Group in Ecology is a good fit. Be sure to draft your statement of purpose carefully. Your statement should reflect your experience and interests in the program, it should be well-organized and concise, and most of all it should identify your own research interests.

Research/Specialization Essay

For this essay you want to describe your research interests. For more experienced students, the statement should also contain specific reference to your research experience and results.


The Graduate Group in Ecology will review each application for an applicant's potential for leadership in diversity.  The GGE is committed to the university's mission of diversity and equality in higher education and will evaluate each applicant's potential to contribute to diversity in our program and field.  Applicants can reflect their leadership in diversity in the Personal History/Diversity Statement portion of the application.