Geological Sciences (PhD, MS)

Program Overview

The graduate program in the Department of Geological 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.


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

Admissions Requirements

To be eligible for graduate study, you must:

  • Provide a complete set of your undergraduate (and, if applicable, graduate) transcripts showing one of the following:
    • You have earned a bachelor's degree (or its equivalent) from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university
    • You are within one academic year of earning a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university
    • You are eligible to apply as part of a memorandum of understanding between your current institution and Binghamton University
  • Have earned, at minimum, one of the following:
    • A 3.0 GPA over your entire undergraduate career
    • A 3.0 GPA during your last 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits of your undergraduate degree, with most courses graded regularly (not as "pass/fail")
    • A 3.0 GPA in a graduate degree, with most courses graded regularly (not as "pass/fail")
    • In consideration of the different grading scales used around the world, each academic department evaluates international transcripts to determine on a case-by-case basis whether they demonstrate one of the above requirements.

To apply, you must submit the following materials. For general guidelines for these materials, see the Admission Requirements website.

  • Online graduate degree application with graduate degree application fee
  • Transcripts from each college or university that you have attended
  • Personal statement (~2000 words) that addresses the topics listed below. This will be used to help match your interests with our faculty, to assess your overall preparedness for graduate studies and as a sample of your writing ability.
    • What are your reasons for pursuing a graduate degree including fields of interest, career ambitions, what brought you to the geosciences and how our department serves your goals?
    • What drives you to succeed? Write about an experience you had, either in school or more generally in life, where you faced a significant challenge and discuss what skills you used to overcome it. You can also write about a time where you were not successful, but the experience led to personal growth.
    • The ability to deliver both independently and within a group setting are key to an effective graduate career and beyond. How do you motivate yourself while working independently? What challenges or successes have you faced while working in a group/team setting?
    • Problem solving is a key skill for a successful graduate career whether that be working with equipment in the lab or field, analyzing data, or finding resources to aid in your interpretation and writing. Beyond what you have already written, discuss how you approach problem solving. Focus on your methodology rather than on the outcomes of a specific example.
  • Résumé or curriculum vitae
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • GRE scores are not required

International students must also submit the following materials. For more information about these materials, see the International Students section of the Admission Requirements website.

  • International Student Financial Statement (ISFS) form
  • Supporting financial documentation (such as bank statements, scholarship or sponsor letters, etc.)
  • Proof of English proficiency (such as official TOEFL/IELTS/PTE Academic/Duolingo* scores)
    • *In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Graduate School at Binghamton University has temporarily approved the use of the Duolingo English Test as proof of English proficiency through the 2023 application cycle.

This information is subject to change. While we make every effort to update these program pages, we recommend that you contact the department with questions about program-specific requirements.


Degree Fall Spring
Geological Sciences (PhD)January 15Rolling (October 15 Recommended)
Geological Sciences (MS)January 15Rolling (October 15 Recommended)

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!