Skip to Content

School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment


Ph.D. in Geological Sciences

Ph.D. in Geological Sciences

The Doctor of Philosophy degree program is offered by a diverse group of faculty whose research interests span a wide range of topics. The degree prepares students for professional careers and leadership positions in industry, government and academia in the fields of geology, geophysics, geochemistry and ocean science. Ph.D. students are expected to conduct independent, original scientific research and to have an understanding of the fundamental principles and practices related to primary areas of the earth and/or ocean sciences. Training involves developing the ability to use appropriate laboratory and field equipment, and expanding one’s understanding of scientific methodology, quantitative problem-solving skills and experimental or numerical techniques. The School of the Earth, Ocean & Environment (SEOE) expects all graduates to possess effective oral and written communication skills.

The Ph.D. degree requires the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 60 semester hours of graduate credit beyond the bachelor’s degree, or a minimum of 30 hours beyond the master’s degree, including at least 12 credit hours of GEOL 899 - Dissertation Preparation. Additional course work is determined by the student and his/her advisory committee in accordance with departmental requirements and the student’s background and specific needs. Qualifying and comprehensive exams must be successfully completed in a timely manner. The oral portion of the comprehensive exam consists, in part, of the defense of a paper written by the student which has been submitted for publication in an approved peer-reviewed journal. All Ph.D. candidates are required to publish one paper in and submit a second paper to refereed scientific journals prior to graduation. A written dissertation is required which must be successfully defended. Coursework is chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor and doctoral committee. In fulfillment of the department Breadth Requirement [pdf], three courses (9 hours) must come from the following three categories (one course from each):

  1. Solid Earth: GEOL 725 - Internal Earth Processes or GEOL 735 - Regional Tectonics 
  2. Hydrologic and Ocean Sciences: GEOL 711 - Paleoclimatology, GEOL 770 - Groundwater Geology, GEOL 781 - Physical Oceanography, or GEOL 782 - Chemical Oceanography
  3. Data Analysis: GEOL 755 - Environmental Measurement and Analysis, GEOL 758 - Analysis of Geologic Data or GEOL 783- Oceanographic Time Series Analysis

Additional information is included in the Graduate Bulletin and the Geological Sciences Graduate Student Handbook.

SEOE Admission Requirements