Department of Earth and Space Sciences Scholarships

Website: UW Department of Earth and Space Sciences


The Department of Earth and Space Sciences is deeply committed to providing financial support for our students whenever possible. Thanks to the generosity of alumni, corporations, regional organizations, and individuals, the department allocates more than $200,000 annually in scholarships, fellowships, and awards to our undergraduate and graduate majors. Each year in March, a call for applications is extended to ESS students. The application deadline, usually early April, is posted on the department web site.

Undergraduate Awards

Earth and Space Sciences awards and scholarships are available for declared majors who are enrolled at the UW. To be eligible, students must show demonstrated financial need and/or merit. All ESS majors are encouraged to apply regardless of immigration or residency status. Undocumented students and international students are encouraged to apply. Awards vary in amount from $150 to full in-state tuition for 3 quarters. The awards are disbursed as tuition scholarships, research and field course support, and recognition for excellence in academic achievement and outstanding service. The application process requires a cover sheet, current resume or CV, unofficial transcript, two page essay and at least one letter of recommendation.

Please note, to be eligible for ESS Scholarships it is essential that an application be submitted.

Graduate Awards

Department awards for graduate students fall under two broad categories; fellowships and awards, and research support funds.

Fellowships and Awards

For research graduate students, department fellowships include the Howard A. Coombs Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, several fellowships for ongoing research and field study, and the David A. Johnston Memorial Awards for Research Excellence. Students in the MESSAGe Program are eligible for awards from the Wilbert Danner Fund.

The application process requires a letter of application, letters of support from faculty, and in the case of the Teaching Excellence fellowship, letters of support from students and a summary of teaching evaluations.

Research Support Funds

Earth and Space Sciences Graduate Research Support Awards are intended to support graduate student research expenses during the summer field season and the following academic year. Because funds are limited and may only cover part of the direct expenses for a typical research project, graduate students are expected to apply for funding from outside sources as well. It is important to note that there is a separate application form for Research Support Funds, requiring a research proposal and projected budget.

Recipients of these funds will have a department research account established on their behalf. There are restrictions on how the money may be used. Equipment purchased with these funds usually becomes Department property and must be returned to the department for the benefit of future students. These funds may not be applied towards tuition and fees.

Awards Ceremony

The awards ceremony is an opportunity for the department to recognize outstanding students, both undergraduate and graduate, for their excellence in academics, leadership, and research. It is also an opportunity for ESS faculty, staff, and students to interact and socialize with our ESS community outside of those who regularly come to campus. It is an uplifting way to begin the wrap-up of the academic year and celebrate our students.

You can view photos of our past ceremonies by visiting the ESS Awards Page


ALL Undergraduate students who have declared as an ESS major for the academic year and are currently enrolled in courses at the UW are eligible to apply for Department awards, regardless of immigration or residency status. Undocumented students and international students are encouraged to apply.

The main criteria for many of the awards are a high academic standing with some requiring financial need, or a combination of the two.  There are also a large number of awards available for outreach, field work support, and service.  

Applications require a minimum of one letter of recommendation, but more are recommended. Letters from Faculty are preferred. Demonstrated financial need is a requirement for some scholarships, and may be a consideration in awarding others. Eligibility for needs-based scholarships will be based on submission of a FAFSA or WASFA (the ESS Department will confirm this with the UW Student Financial Aid Office) and the description of financial need in the essay. Awards vary from modest cash stipends to full resident tuition for one or more quarters. 

ALL ESS graduate students are eligible to apply for Department awards, regardless of immigration or residency status. Undocumented students and international students are encouraged to apply. The Department offers awards to graduate students in four categories:

Student Type
  • freshman
  • sophomore
  • junior
  • senior
  • graduate
Citizen Type
  • US Citizen
  • Permanent Resident
  • International or Other Visa Status
  • Undocumented

Access the application form at

Be prepared to upload the following documents:

  • Current Resume / Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • A copy of your unofficial UW transcript. (You can download a PDF of your unofficial transcript via MyUW, and then upload it here.)
  • A TWO-PAGE essay (double-spaced) in support of your application. The essay should convey a sense of you, including:
    • your history
    • interests
    • reasons for studying earth and space sciences
    • possible career plans
    • clearly describe any financial need you may have in the essay
    • if you are seeking funding to support field work (OTHER than ESS 400/401), the essay should clearly describe how that funding will be used.
  • At least one letter of recommendation (more than one is preferred, and two are required if applying for the NSLMC Scholarship). Letters of recommendation should be emailed to
Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding your application or the award(s), please contact