Graduate Program

Our integrated curriculum uses active learning by promoting research and education. It is designed to give graduates the skill sets to prepare them for a range of careers in academia, and the public and private sectors. The graduate program in OES draws from the strength of our diverse faculty and their active research programs that span the globe. Graduate students have the opportunity to take part in research projects among a broad suite of field sites from the local waters of the Chesapeake Bay to the polar regions. Explore OES Graduate Courses >

Graduate Student Support & Scholarships

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We provide all graduate students in the Department of Ocean & Earth Sciences with financial support through teaching or research assistantships that include tuition costs and health insurance coverage. Thus, our program pays the major costs of attending graduate school and provides a stipend for living expenses. For students applying to the program for the first time, the prestigious Dorothy Brown Smith (DBS) Scholarship is also available for their first year (see below). Otherwise, a new student will be supported as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) by the Department or as a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) by a faculty member's research funding. For GRA support in particular, prospective students should contact individual faculty members prior to submitting their applications. Request Information >

Deadline: Application to OES M.S. and Ph.D. programs must be complete by 15 January. An applicant does not directly apply for the DBS Scholarship; instead, the Graduate Admissions Committee selects potential applicants based on the criteria below.

Criteria for evaluation: These scholarships are only available to STEM majors applying to the OES M.S. and Ph.D. programs for the first time. Evaluation criteria include: GPA, GRE scores, and research experience (e.g., NSF REU, senior thesis). This scholarship is not available to currently enrolled OES graduate students; see below for other scholarships.

Amount: $30,000, plus tuition, health insurance, and up to $2,000 in research supplies or travel. A maximum of two students will be supported by this scholarship each year. However, the scholarship is only given to qualified applicants, and if none are identified, then no awards are given.

Duration: One year; the student's advisor must secure funding afterward, either as a GRA or GTA.

  • Open to Earth Science/Ocean Science students.
  • One scholarship is awarded for Earth sciences and the second scholarship is awarded for Ocean sciences.
  • Student is selected by the Graduate Education Committee and candidate selection is forwarded to the Office of Student Financial Aid.

  • One recipient per competition.
  • Must demonstrate financial need for funding in the preparation of his/her dissertation in the field of biological oceanography by completing a current FAFSA (Financial Aid Form) to qualify.
  • Student is selected by the Graduate Education Committee and candidate selection is forwarded to the Office of Student Financial Aid.

  • Student must meet or exceed the University's academic requirement of maintaining no less than a 3.0 average.
  • Student is selected by the Graduate Education Committee and candidate selection is forwarded to the Office of Student Financial Aid. Preference is given to a student emphasizing the geosciences; if no such student is available, the Graduate Education Committee may recommend any student in the department.

  • Open to students pursuing a Master of Science in Ocean and Earth Sciences.
  • Awarded on merit.
  • May be renewed annually, for a period covering the Master's degree only, if recipient has and maintains a 3.0 GPA.
  • Student is selected by the Graduate Education Committee and candidate selection is forwarded to the Office of Student Financial Aid.

For the OES Departmental Scholarship for Travel applicants must:

  • Submit the abstract and acceptance letter/email for an oral or poster presentation at a scientific meeting,
  • Have a summary travel budget (transportation, food and lodging, registration and abstract fees, as applicable; maximum of $2,000)
  • A letter of support from your faculty advisor--all as a single PDF file. For a scientific meeting, the application must be submitted no later than one month after receipt of the acceptance letter/email, and for other travel (e.g., to a lab or workshop for training or to participate in a specialized course at another institution), at least two months prior to travel.

Eligible students may receive this award once per academic year.

The Larry P. Atkinson Travel Fellowship helps early career scientists and graduate students who are actively involved in research and/or education programs using Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) data. The Fellowship provides funding support for the recipient to participate in and present a paper or poster on research or education using OOI data at a national or international conference or workshop. Participation in conferences that promote diversity and inclusiveness are encouraged.

If you need funding to offset conference expenses (registration fees, travel costs, accommodations, etc.), we encourage you to apply. Conference participation can be in-person or virtual. With the Fall AGU and Ocean Science Meetings approaching, we wanted to remind you of this opportunity.

Information on eligibility requirements, and how to apply, are available at:

For the Zaneveld, Kelley, Entsminger Scholarships and Hillegass Award, applicants must submit a written application as a single PDF file, consisting of:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • an unofficial copy of her/his ODU transcript
  • a letter of recommendation and support from his/her major advisor
  • a proposal for the scholarship or award - define the research question you will address (2-page maximum)
  • an itemized budget, with a paragraph of justification, including an explanation as to why the student's advisor cannot or will not provide the funds from grants (1-page maximum)

The Zaneveld, Kelley, Entsminger scholarships, and Hillegass Awards are provided in addition to the recipients' regular GTA or GRA stipends.

* The Zaneveld, Kelley, and Entsminger Scholarships and the Hillegass Awards are available once a year. The application deadline is 15 May for awards to be made the following academic year. Applications for the DBS Travel awards will be accepted throughout the year until funds are exhausted. All applications are to be emailed to the OES GPD. Evaluations of these applications will be based primarily on merit, but some consideration will also be made with respect to need. Students may apply for more than one scholarship at a time.


1) Must be a full-time graduate student in Old Dominion University's Department of Ocean & Earth Sciences. (full-time status depends on M.S. or Ph.D. degree and enrollment status such as Advanced to Candidacy for Ph.D. students).

2) Must meet any specific requirements called for in the scholarship description (e.g., "open to M.S. students only").