Geological Sciences (PhD, MS)

Program Overview

The graduate program in the Department of Earth Sciences offers Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree programs in geological sciences. Students are trained to conduct research that leads to publishable work, advancing knowledge in one of the following focus areas: Climate Systems Dynamics, Modern and Ancient Life, Natural Resources, Geophysics and Remote Sensing, Natural Hazards and Environmental Remediation. As research activities are often diverse and interdisciplinary, students are encouraged to tailor their study to their individual interests with the help of faculty members.

The small size of the department allows students to develop strong relationships with the faculty, their peers, and the undergraduate students. The curriculum is heavily research-based, reflecting current geologic knowledge and practices. Funding is available to both MS and PhD students in the form of scholarships and stipends through teaching and research assistantships.

The program regularly hosts seminars held by noted geologists and offers field excursions. Recent field trips include California, West Texas, Florida, Wyoming, and East Africa.

Degrees Offered

  • PhD in Geological Sciences
  • MS in Geological Sciences

Internships, Research Opportunities and More

Course Highlights

Students take a minimum of 6 courses from the Geoscience faculty aimed at developing specific skills for their research projects and to broaden their geological expertise. Some students will take courses from other departments or conduct independent studies when specialized knowledge not covered in the curriculum is required.

Research

Students develop a research topic with their primary advisor and submit a research proposal to their research committee. PhD students are required to sit for an oral preliminary exam, typically during their third semester, to assess their general understanding of the geological sciences. They must also defend their research proposal through a public presentation. Students are encouraged to claim ownership of their research and submit MS theses and PhD dissertations as publication-ready manuscripts. Their public defense provides an opportunity for the student to share their findings with the department and to celebrate the completion of their graduate program.

The department boasts state-of-the-art laboratory facilities as well as specialized research and analytical equipment to aid students in their academic endeavors. Throughout their course of study, graduate students will establish a solid foundation of research and analytical knowledge, as well as develop a marketable skillset allowing them to move directly into the workforce after graduation.

Financial Support

The University provides teaching assistantships to the Department to be awarded to high quality candidates that includes tuition remission and a stipend. Graduate assistantships are also available through faculty with funded laboratory and field-based research. The department awards a scholarship yearly to a female student from the Morisawa endowment. Through a generous donation from ROUX, we also offer a yearly fellowship to a deserving MS student.

Our students have been very successful in being awarded student grants through organizations such as the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Cushman Foundation for Foraminiferal Research, Geological Society of America, Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, National Science Foundation, Society of Exploration Geophysicists, and the Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM).

After You Graduate

Beyond educating our students through research and coursework, we believe helping them find internships and full-time employment are a critical part of our responsibility. We achieve this through:

  • Invitations to private companies and government entities to campus to engage and recruit our students directly.
  • Mentoring our students on the job market
  • Sending our students to regional, national, and international conferences where they build their professional development and participate in student job fairs

Our recent alumni have found employment in:

  • Environmental consulting
  • Public sector, both state and federal
  • Academia
  • Energy industry, material science

Admission Requirements

Accelerated/4+1 Degrees

You may also be interested in our accelerated/4+1 degree programs which allow students to complete their bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in just 5 years!


For more information, visit the Geological Sciences website.