Interview with Dr. Greg Retallack, University of Oregon

Your Name: Greg Retallack
Your Position: Professor and Head of Admissions for the Environmental Studies Program
Your School: University of Oregon

Graduate Degrees Offered:

Master's in Environmental Studies and a doctoral degree in Environmental Science, Studies and Policy (ESSP).

1) When is the right time for someone to consider attending a graduate environmental program like yours?

Late fall and Christmas. We start reveiwing files in mid-January.

2) What are the top three reasons that students choose to pursue a graduate degree in your program's field of study?

  • Location, location, location - Eugene is in Ecotopia
  • We have a track record for environmental studies
  • Leading research faculty.

3) When selecting prospective graduate students, what factors are considered by your admissions staff? Beyond the "basics" of good grades and GRE scores and a demonstrated commitment to their education, what makes an applicant stand out?

Our program is interdisciplinary, so we are looking for a specific project and mentor identified in the statement of intent.

4) What do you look for in a prospective student's background and/or essay (if one is required)?

See above - a specific well thought-out project.

5) Does your department interview prospective students before admitting them? If so, what are you looking for in the interview?

Yes, but only on student initiative.

6) What three things can most likely DECREASE an applicant's chances of getting accepted?

  • Poor scores
  • mediocre recommendations
  • unfocused essay.

7) Other than your program, in your opinion, what are the overall top three comparable graduate-level environmental programs in the United States? Do any outstanding International programs come to mind?

  • University of New Hampshire, Department of Geology
  • University of Colorado, Boulder, Department of Geology
  • University of Oregon, Department of Geology

8) What percentage of applicants do you accept into your program? In general, how selective are comparable graduate environmental programs?

Typically we get 120-150 applicants and admit 6-8 of them. I do not know how selective comparable environmental programs are.

9) Do you have any helpful statistics?

Dr. Retallack did not respond to this question.

10) Do you have any other advice to offer for students who are trying to get accepted into a top graduate environmental program?

Keep your grades up.

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