Source: Nicole Yamase

How to Apply

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A complete application for the Marine Biology Graduate Program (MBGP) has 11 documents/forms (see below).

Annually, the application deadline for admission the following fall semester is December 15

  • Update (12/16/20): The application period for Fall 2021 has closed. Please do not attempt to start new applications at this time (the UHM Graduate Admissions application is open year-round to serve all UH graduate programs, so it may let you start an application, but it would not be valid). Applications for Fall 2022 will start being accepted in late September 2021.

The application steps below were for Fall 2021 admissions. The are changes possible for Fall 2022. The Fall 2022 application process (and any potential new instructions/steps) is expected to be released in September 2021.

Fall 2021 Application notes:

Step1:  Identify a faculty sponsor
The most successful applicants to the MBGP have identified a potential faculty sponsor before/during the application process. Applicants should identify a few 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 2021. The Supplemental Information Form (see 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 the Fall 2022 admission cycle, we will list in September 2021 if any MBGP faculty DO NOT plan to sponsor any applicants for admission to the program.

Step 2: Complete the application steps below

1) 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 using this link

  • In the application, note that the Marine Biology Graduate Program is part of the "University of Hawaii at Manoa" [Institution] on the "UH Manoa Main Campus" [Site].
  • Completing this application will give you access to the Supplementary Materials Upload Site (needed for several steps below), so we recommend applicants complete this step by December 1. (For instructions on using the Supplementary Materials Upload Site, there is an instructional video:
  • 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)
  • 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, 2020 deadline, such materials are not eligible for consideration for Fall 2021.

2) 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 a University of Hawai'i campus, you do not need to submit a transcript for that campus as we can access that).

  • We recommend applicants upload a scan of an official transcript (or upload 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.
  • If an applicant instead chooses to scan/save a pdf of an unofficial transcript, that applicant is responsible for ensuring 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 name is missing and need to follow up with the applicant to ask for an official transcript.
  • Should an applicant be offered admission, s/he will still need to mail in an official transcript directly to Graduate Division (or have an official e-transcript sent).
  • 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 no later than 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)

3) Complete and submit the MBGP Supplemental Information Form

Complete the online MBGP Supplemental Application/Information Form via this link:
The deadline has passed, so the linked form is not accepting data for Fall 2021 any more and has been removed.

  • The Form is a multi-part form that must completed in one sitting, so plan to set aside 20-30 minutes and have ready access to your CV; the names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of the 3 people who will write letters of recommendation and submit evaluation forms for you; any relevant test score reports; and think about the aspect(s) of the field are of interest to you and which current MBGP Regular/Cooperating faculty you have contacted.
  • A key part of the overall application (and this Supplemental Information Form) is listing the names of MBGP Regular/Cooperating faculty who you are interested in working with and whom you have contacted via e-mail. (For suggestions on how to best start your contact with a member of the MBGP faculty, please see the Admissions FAQ page.)

4) Upload a Statement of Objectives

Write a response to the following prompt, save it as a .pdf file (please include your full name at the top of your statement), 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.

5) Upload Your CV

Upload a CV/resume to the Supplementary Materials Upload site.

  • We encourage you to upload the CV in a .pdf file format (.docx/.doc files would have to be converted to .pdf, and this process may alter your intended formatting and/or introduce digital artifacts).

6, 7, 8) Ask for 3 Letters of Recommendation to be uploaded to your 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 deadline, we encourage you to type in their 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).
  • Please e-mail them separately to tell them to expect an e-mail from the UH system and a personalized link to upload their letter (Also, encourage them to upload their letters as .pdf files, when possible.)
  • The strongest letters probably address one or more of the following topics: 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.

9, 10, 11) Ask for 3 Graduate Assistantship Evaluation Forms to be completed and uploaded to your account

(1) Download the Evaluation form from
(2) Fill out and sign the top portion of the Evaluation Form.
(3) E-mail the partially completed form to each of the three people you asked to write letters of recommendation and explain that they also need to complete the bottom portion and upload this Evaluation Form.
(4) Log in to the Upload site and click on the tab for letters of recommendation/Other materials.Type in the e-mail addresses of your 3 recommenders again (The system will e-mail them a personalized link to enable them to upload the Evaluation Form you sent them separately.)
(5) Check the Upload site periodically to see if you have two documents from each recommender (it's fine if a writer combines the letter and Evaluation Form into one .pdf document, but it's not common, so if you only see one upload, you might check in with that person to see if they recall uploading both)

  • Despite the name, this form is required for all applicants, whether you intend to do a Graduate Assistantship or not.
  • Since these Evaluation Forms must reach us by the deadline, we encourage you to send e-mails from the Upload system to these supporters no later than December 1 (i.e., to give them time to complete the Evaluation Form, and for you to send reminders—if necessary—before the December 15 deadline).

Some applicants may also 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 2021, though),
  • Mark Hixon (GRE score preferred—note that Dr. Hixon does not plan to sponsor students for Fall 2021, though)
  • 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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