Admission Procedures

Application to the University of Washington and the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs

The two-year course sequence leading to the Master of Marine Affairs (MMA) degree begins each Autumn quarter, and students are admitted to the program only during that quarter.

Application Deadlines

  • All applications for admission for entry in Autumn quarter 2015 must be received by the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs by January 16, 2015. However, applicants are strongly advised to send their completed applications as early as possible.
  • ALL application materials need to be submitted electronically.

Admission Criteria

Admission to the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs is very competitive due to the limited number of places available and the excellent quality of applicants. Successful applicants typically rank highly on some of the following:

  • A demonstrated ability to maintain good grades, particularly in areas pertinent to the marine and environmental affairs field.
  • Strong GRE scores
  • Significant practical/professional experience in teaching, research, government, business, or industry.
  • Strong recommendations from undergraduate instructors, advisors, professional supervisors or colleagues
  • A thoughtfully considered and clearly stated career objective.

While there is no undergraduate major preferred as a prerequisite to graduate study at the School, many students enter the program from backgrounds in the social, technological, and environmental sciences. Individuals with major experience in the humanities are encouraged to apply as well, particularly if there is evidence of special interests and aptitudes supporting a career objective in the marine and environmental affairs area. For example, a communications background may support a career goal in marine affairs journalism; strength in one or more foreign languages may support an interest in international aspects of marine and environmental policy or resource management.

The total background of the individual is evaluated as well as particular strengths and weaknesses and, in some cases, a strong background in one area (such as professional experience in the field) may balance out a less satisfactory performance in another (such as undergraduate studies).

Applicants will self-select into either the Professional or Thesis track at the time they apply for admission to the MMA program. Track adjustments can be made within the first three quarters of study, following petition by the student and approval by faculty. Admission to the Thesis track requires concurrence of a faculty advisor, and students in the Thesis track must propose a research project and establish their thesis committee by the end of spring quarter of their first year.

It is not necessary to select a faculty advisor prior to entering the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. Each incoming student is assigned to a faculty member who will serve as the First Year Advisor and who will assist the student in planning his/her program and identifying a Capstone Project Advisor or Thesis Committee Chair over the course of the year. Any time during the first year, the First Year Advisor may be replaced by a Capstone Project Advisor or Thesis Committee Chair, who will help the student identify a capstone project or thesis committee and will direct academic work over the remainder of the student's program of studies.

Applicants to the MMA degree program must meet the admission standards of both the University of Washington Graduate School and the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs.

To be accepted by the Graduate School, an applicant must have:

  • Completed an undergraduate program of study recognized as appropriate preparation for graduate work;
  • A minimum of a 3.0 (B) grade point average for coursework taken during the last 60 semester or 90 quarter hours if the cumulative GPA is less than 3.0;
  • Taken the general (Verbal, Analytical, Quantitative) Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and have requested test results be sent to the UW Graduate School (UW Code: 4854);
  • The ability, as determined by the University, to make satisfactory progress toward a graduate degree.

International Applicants

An international applicant is anyone who is NOT a United States citizen or permanent resident. If you fit this definition, please check the UW Graduate School information website at for important information about admission and application requirements. 

International applicants must be able to submit a statement of financial ability. This statement will be available upon submission of their application. The School of Marine and Environmental Affairs is not able to guarantee funding of international students.

All international applicants must complete the GRE test. International applicants must also take the TOEFL exam. The exception is applicants from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom, and those who have received a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited U.S. institution or from an institution in the countries listed. These applicants are exempt from the TOEFL exam.

General Application Instructions

Note: The School of Marine and Environmental Affairs does not mail paper applications.

The application process for 2015 is online.

The online application is available at

**If you have extenuating circumstances that prevent you from applying online, such as being in a foreign counry with limited internet access, or are at sea, please contact Tiffany Dion, SMEA’s Graduate Program Advisor, at or 206-543-0106.

Online Steps required by the UW Graduate School

  • Select your graduate program – “Marine and Environmental Affairs, School of”
  • Review requirements and deadlines
  • Review checklist of application materials
  • Report all undergraduate and graduate schools
  • Print application
  • Pay fee and submit application

Steps required by the School of Marine & Environmental Affairs

  • Submit your resume or Curriculum Vitae. This can be uploaded in Word, PDF, RTF, or written in plain text. Please be sure that your name, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, and the year and quarter to which you are applying are at the top of each page of your document.
  • Submit the completed SMEA Program Application Form (PDF).  Please limit your answers to the space provided - longer answers will be truncated.
  • Submit self-reported GRE scores. These will be verified later with the official GRE scores.
  • Designate at least 3 recommendations. Letters of recommendation can, in some cases, have a significant effect on the admissions decision. The strongest recommendations are those submitted by an instructor or advisor who knows your work well and can give a well-substantiated assessment of your academic potential. For applicants who have been out of school for some time, professional recommendations are appropriate. When you enter the email address of a recommender an email will be immediately generated to that person describing our program and giving them the necessary instructions to submit a letter of recommendation online.  Please do not ask them to mail a letter to SMEA.  It is best to enter this list as soon as possible.  You will be able to see, on your application, when your recommenders have responded. It is up to the applicant to track  letters of recommendation and check that they have been received by SMEA.
  • Submit your Career Objectives. Describe your education and career objectives in marine and environmental affairs. What type of career role do you see for yourself? This can be up to two pages, but should be at least one page. Please give this section careful thought and preparation. This can be uploaded in Word, PDF, RTF, or written in plain text. Please be sure that your name, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, and the year and quarter to which you are applying at the top of each page of  your document.
  • Scan in your transcripts.  Scan in copies of ALL your undergraduate and graduate transcripts.  They must be scanned at 100% of full size, and you should also scan in one back page of each transcript, since the back of transcripts often have important information on grading standards, etc.  DO NOT mail transcripts. If you are admitted, the UW Graduate School will then request an official paper trancript be sent directly from one of your schools.  They will notify you, at that time, of which school they want to review.

PLEASE NOTE: Be sure to retain a copy of your user name and password. You will use this to check the progress of your application, verify when (and if) your letters of recommendation and transcripts arrive. Because this information is available to you online, we will not be able to answer individual requests for verification of receipt of these documents.

All records become part of the official file. They will not be returned or forwarded to other departments.

Evaluation Process

The evaluation of applicants and the selection of prospective students is the responsibility of a four-member Admissions Committee composed of School of Marine and Environmental Affairs faculty members. Applicants are evaluated individually and in competition with one another, and offers of admission are extended to top-ranking applicants within the departmental admissions quota assigned by the Graduate School.

Evaluation is based solely on information submitted by the applicant for inclusion in his/her admissions file. Therefore, it is to the applicant's advantage to thoroughly prepare and promptly submit all application material.

Offers of Admission

Following the evaluation process, the SMEA Admissions Committee will notify candidates of admission or denial to the graduate program. Notification will generally begin the first week in March and continue through mid to late April.

Applicant files will be held for one year and individuals may re-apply at any time. The results of previous evaluations will not enhance or jeopardize an applicant's chances for future admission.

In some cases students might desire to defer their admission until the following academic year or a future term. The School of Marine & Environmental Affairs Admissions Committee will consider these situations on a case by case basis and if approved by the committee, will submit a petition on the student's behalf to the Graduate School Admissions Office for final approval. If approved, the applicant will not be charged another application fee and the entire application (transcripts, test scores, resume, career objectives, program application, letters, etc.) will be transferred to that particular year and the student will automatically be granted admission for that term.

If additional coursework has been completed or GREs taken again since the original application submission, SMEA will ask for an updated version of the student's unofficial transcripts and/or official GRE scores as well as a current resume/CV. If funding has been offered to the applicant requesting to defer admission, the School of Marine & Environmental Affairs is under no obligation to defer those funds to the following year. Each student may only be given an admission deferral once; requests for additional deferrals in subsequent years will not be considered. Each year, the committee will approve a maximum of five deferrals in any given admissions cycle for the entire incoming class. These will be approved on a rolling basis.  To inquire about the deferral process please contact the SMEA Graduate Program Advisor, Tiffany Dion ( for more information.

Equal Opportunity

The University of Washington reaffirms its policy of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam Era veteran, or other protected veterans in accordance with University policy and applicable federal and state statutes and regulations. The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation in the application process contact Tiffany Dion at or 206-543-0106 or the Disability Services Office at least ten days in advance at: 206.543.6450/V, 206.543.6452/TTY, 206.685.7264 (FAX), or e-mail at

If You Have Questions

Contact Tiffany Dion, Graduate Program Advisor, at or 206-543-0106.