Source: Nicole Yamase

How to Apply

A complete application for the Marine Biology Graduate Program (MBGP) has 8 steps (see below).

Annually, the application deadline is December 15 (for consideration for admission for the following fall).

  • Update (9/29/21): Applications for Fall 2022 are now being accepted. The deadline to apply for Fall 2022 is December 15, 2021.
  • Applications are only accepted for fall semesters.
  • The Marine Biology Graduate Program has a required intensive (8am-5pm), in-person core course in AUGUST (August 1-12, 2022—before the start of the Fall 2022 semester), with an anticipated cost of up to $500. If applying, be sure you are able to attend and complete this course.
  • Be sure you have read through our admissions requirements and the Admissions FAQ page.

  • Step 1: Identify a MBGP Faculty Sponsor

    The most successful applicants to the MBGP have identified a potential faculty sponsor before/during the application process. Applicants should first identify a few Level 3 Regular/Cooperating Faculty in the MBGP with complementary research interests, and then contact them to determine if there is mutual interest in joining their laboratory starting in Fall 2022.

    • The Supplemental Information Form (see Step 5, below) will ask you to identify 1–3 faculty members that you have communicated with about sponsorship into the program.
    • For tips on identifying and contacting faculty relevant to you and your interests, see our Admissions FAQ page.


    • For Fall 2022, the following Level 3 Regular/Cooperating MBGP faculty member will only be sponsoring applicants for admission for the PhD program (i.e., no MS students):
      • Cindy Hunter


    • For Fall 2022, the following seven Level 3 Regular/Cooperating MBGP faculty WILL NOT sponsor any applicants for admission (so applicants should concentrate their outreach to other MBGP faculty who are not named below):
      • Brian Bowen
      • Erik Franklin
      • Tim Grabowski
      • Mark Hixon
      • Shaya Honarvar
      • Carl Meyer
      • Grieg Steward


  • Step 2: Sign up for the MBGP applicant e-mail list
    Go to and submit your e-mail address.


    If we have announcements for applicants about any updates to the admissions process, we will send it to e-mails on this list. Any announcements would come from


    In the event your organization blocks access to Google Forms, you may e-mail; we could e-mail you the required fields for you to send back via reply e-mail.


    You will receive a message when you are added to the listserv. Please note that this is a one-way announcement listserv; there is no Google Group to log into for past messages, etc.
  • Step 3: Complete the UHM Graduate Application and pay the Fee (preferably by December 1)
    Applicants must submit an application to the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa's Graduate Division for graduate admission, and pay the application fee.


    • As you complete the application, you will need to know that the Marine Biology Graduate Program is part of the
      • Institution: University of Hawaii at Manoa
      • Site: UH Manoa Main Campus
      • Make sure you are applying for Fall 2022
    • Make a note of the Login ID and PIN you create when starting the application; you'll need to use these to access the Upload site (see below)


    The Supplemental Materials Upload site

    Completing the Graduate Division application will give you access to the Supplementary Materials Upload Site (needed for several steps below), so we recommend applicants complete Step 3 by December 1.


    Note about the fee

    As of Sept. 27, 2021, Graduate Division notes: "No application fee waivers or deferments are granted. Application fees are NON-REFUNDABLE and may not be used for an application submitted at a later date. "


    Please observe the December 15 deadline

    Please note that the Graduate Division online application is active year-round since it serves all programs on campus—all of which have different deadlines and application periods. Thus while their site would allow you to start an application for the MBGP after the December 15, 2021 deadline, such materials are not eligible for consideration for Fall 2022.
  • Step 4: Upload transcripts from any post-secondary school attended (preferably by December 1)
    Upload a transcript for each post-secondary (i.e., after high school) institution attended to the Supplementary Materials upload site (if you attended any University of Hawai'i campus, you do not need to submit a transcript for that campus as Graduate Division can access your records through STAR).


    We recommend applicants upload either (1) a scan of an official transcript or (2) an official e-transcript.


    • Because scanners vary in quality and output, please examine the pdf file you plan to submit to ensure your courses and grades are clearly visible.
    • Because transcripts need to be evaluated by Graduate Division before they are sent to the MBGP, upload the transcript(s) as soon as possible, and preferably by/before December 1 (we will still accept transcript uploads until the official deadline, but with the holidays and end of semester, the review of your transcript will likely be slower than usual, which in turn, delays when your application could be available for review by the admissions committee)


    If, for some reason, an official transcript is difficult to secure in time to meet deadlines (e.g., cost, timing, etc.), we do allow unofficial transcripts to be uploaded to the Supplemental Materials Upload site and used for admissions review; however, applicants choosing to use an unofficial transcript must ensure the document shows both (a) the applicant's full name and (b) the name of the institution.

    • Processing delays will occur should Graduate Division find the data is missing and need to follow up with the applicant to ask for an official transcript.
    • The unofficial transcript may only be used for admissions review. Applicants who are offered admission will still need to have an official transcript sent directly to Graduate Division (or have an official e-transcript sent) from the institution(s) attended to be able to matriculate at UH
  • Step 5: Complete and submit the MBGP Supplemental Information Form

    Complete the online MBGP Supplemental Information Form via this link:


    The Form is a multi-part form that must be completed in one sitting, so plan to set aside 20–30 minutes and have ready access to the following materials to make answering the questions easier:
    • your CV;
    • transcripts;
    • the names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of the 3 people who will write letters of recommendation for you;
    • any relevant test score reports;
    • the aspect(s) of the field of Marine Biology are of interest to you;
    • and the names of current MBGP Level 3 Regular/Cooperating faculty you have contacted about your interest in applying(see Step 1, above).


    MBGP Faculty section of the form

    The seven names marked with "***" on the Supplemental Form are those who are not taking on any new students for Fall 2022 (these names are mentioned in Step 1, but we repeated this warning on the Form). Although these researchers are not recommending any students for admission, we chose to keep their names on the list for completeness.

    Although the wording is "indicate any faculty you have contacted," the intent is not for you to e-mail lots of faculty members, even if they do not do research in an area that meshes well with your own interests. If you contacted a faculty member but no longer believe they are a good fit for your research (e.g., you initially contacted a faculty member because you though you had read they did some research on the coral genetics you are passionate about, but after doing more research you found they only work on a more macro/ecological scale), you do not need to check off that personʻs name on the form.


    Acknowledgment Statement

    As part of the supplemental information form, you will need to acknowledge that you understand that MBGPʻs academic program starts on AUGUST 1, 2022 for applicants admitted for Fall 2022 (with a mandatory, in-person 2-credit course that meets roughly 8am-5pm every weekday August 1–12, 2022, with some evening events), and that you will be present for that course. Passing this course in your first year is a requirement of staying in the program.
    • A course-related grant should defray tuition charges, but there will still be course fees of up to $500 that students will have to pay before the start of the course
    • If you do not already have housing on ʻOahu, you should also plan to arrive at least by July 25, 2022 for any apartment hunting, etc. as you would not have time to do that during the August course itself.
  • Step 6: Ask 3 people to upload letters of recommendation to your Supplemental Materials account
    1. Log in to the Supplementary Materials Upload site
    2. Click on the tab for letters of recommendation.
    3. Type in the e-mail addresses of three people who you've asked to write letters of recommendation for you. The system will then send them an e-mail with a personalized link to enable them to upload a letter of recommendation for you to your folder in the upload site.


    • Since letters of recommendation must reach us by the December 15 deadline, we encourage you to type in the writersʻ e-mails in the Upload system no later than December 1 (i.e., to give them time upload the letter, and for you to send reminders—if necessary—before the December 15 deadline).
    • The e-mail that the Upload system will sens to your recommendation writers with the upload link will be fairly generic, so you should e-mail these three people separately to tell them to expect an e-mail from the UH system and the personalized link to upload their letter (Also, encourage them to save their letters as .pdf files, when possible.)
    • The strongest recommendation letters probably address one or more of the following topics, so you could also mention that to your writer: the applicant's preparation for graduate school, potential to perform quality research, ability to pursue a successful career following completion of a graduate degree, and the potential ability as a graduate research assistant or teaching assistant.


    Verifying a letter was uploaded for you

    If you waive your right to see any letters uploaded on your behalf (generally a good practice for most letters of recommendation), you may then still be able to to see when/whether someone has uploaded something for you (even if you canʻt see the letter itself) when you log into the Supplemental Materials site.
  • Step 7: Upload a Statement of Objectives
    Write a response to the following prompt, save it as a .pdf file (include your full name at the top of the document or in a header/footer to ensure it is sorted to your application properly), and upload the file to the Supplementary Materials Upload site:


    Describe your objectives within the Marine Biology Graduate Program (including a possible research topic and faculty you have contacted and might want to work with), your intended area of specialization within Marine Biology, and how a graduate degree will contribute to your long-range professional goals. Include any additional information that will assist the selection committee in evaluating your application.
  • Step 8: Upload your CV
    Upload a CV/resume to the Supplementary Materials Upload site.
    • We encourage you to upload the CV in the .pdf file format (Any .docx/.doc files that are submitted would be converted to .pdf, and this conversion process may alter your intended formatting and/or introduce digital artifacts).
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Some applicants may need to submit additional materials:

A. International students: Complete any applicable additional requirements

International applicants (i.e., non-US citizens or permanent residents) have additional materials that must be submitted. Please see the requirements specified by Graduate Division at this link. This may include a TOEFL/IELTS and/or proof of funding.

We recommend you submit TOEFL scores (if required) by December 1.

B. Applicants interested in doing research with certain faculty: GRE General Test

The Marine Biology Graduate Program does not require official GRE scores for all applicants; however, individual MBGP faculty may require (or recommend/prefer) that applicants interested in working with them in particular (i.e., having that faculty member become their advisor/committee chair) submit a GRE General Test score as part of their application.

  • The following three (3) MBGP faculty either require or prefer a GRE General Test score for any applicants interested in being sponsored by them after admission (i.e., other MBGP faculty do not expect/require a GRE score):
  • Brian Bowen (GRE score preferred—note that Dr. Bowen does not plan to sponsor students for Fall 2022, though),
  • Mark Hixon (GRE score preferred—note that Dr. Hixon does not plan to sponsor students for Fall 2022)
  • Elizabeth Madin (GRE score preferred)

  • If you are not sure if a faculty member you might want to work with requires GRE test results for their lab, or if you want to be considered for the widest variety of faculty/labs, we recommend you take the GRE General Test no later than November 15.
  • Have ETS send scores directly to the University of Hawaii at Manoa (ETS Online Score Recipient Code: University of Hawaii at Mānoa: 4867) (This can be done when signing up for the exam or after results are released)
  • Graduate Division will forward these official scores to our office; do not upload unofficial scores/score reports
  • Before you submit your GRE score request to ETS, double check that you're indicating to ETS that you're applying to a graduate-level program. (ETS also sends scores to the undergraduate admissions office, but the two admissions offices at UH are not connected—the UHM Grad Division system will not receive any scores sent to the UHM undergraduate admissions office).

If you have questions, our page of Admissions FAQs might be helpful. Otherwise, please e-mail
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