Ph.D. in Earth Sciences

The post-master’s PhD student is expected to have an MA degree or the equivalent upon admission to the PhD program; the post bachelor’s student must have a BA or the equivalent and should have a superior record that warrants admission directly into the PhD program. (Note differences in requirements below.)


The post-master’s student must complete at least eight semester courses (32 credits); the post-bachelor’s student must complete at least 16 courses (64 credits). The actual number of courses required of a student is determined in consultation with the advisor. At least 10 of the 16 course counted towards the PhD must be non-research courses(not including GRS ES699 Teaching College Earth Sciences) All students must take at least one graduate-level course from two of the following disciplines: (I) Geodynamics; (II) Geochemistry; (III) Earth History. Doctoral candidates are urged to take several research seminars during their program. For more information on available graduate course offerings go to the Graduate Course Descriptions pages.

Exams and Dissertation

Each PhD candidate must pass two qualifying examinations (one written and one oral), which are intended to test the candidate’s specific knowledge of the dissertation topic as well as the depth of knowledge of the scientific context of the topic. The student must pass these qualifying examinations in order to proceed with the dissertation research. Exams are normally scheduled in the fourth semester.

Candidates shall demonstrate their abilities for independent study in a dissertation representing original research or creative scholarship. A prospectus for the dissertation must be completed and approved by the readers, the director of graduate studies, and the department chair/program director within a year after passing the first qualifying exam. Candidates must undergo a final oral examination in which they defend their dissertation as a valuable contribution to knowledge in their field and demonstrate a mastery of their field of specialization in relation to their dissertation. All portions of the dissertation and final oral examination must be completed as outlined in the PhD Graduation and Dissertation Procedures.