Prospective Students

Master Of Science

The normal duration of the M.S. program in Geosciences is two academic years, and a minimum of 30 semester credits must be completed. A thesis describing the results of an original research project is required for the Plan A Master’s degree. The thesis is defended in an oral presentation and examination.

Doctor Of Philosophy

The Department of Geosciences and the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability offer a Ph.D. program in Earth Sciences. The degree program has formal specializations in Watershed Science and in Geosciences. Faculty members from the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, and the Department of Geosciences will advise students in the Watershed Science specialization. Faculty members in the Department of Geosciences will advise students in the Geosciences specialization. Prospective Ph.D. students should visit the departmental websites to identify likely advisors and contact them directly for further information about Ph.D. opportunities. Because the degree program is officially housed in the Department of Geosciences, student applications for both specializations will be formally handled here, and admitted students will be officially enrolled through the Department of Geosciences.

Photo of student doing measurements near a stream.

The Ph.D. program ordinarily takes three or more years beyond the M.S. degree. Candidates must complete a total of 72 semester credits beyond the B.S. degree. A master’s degree from an accredited college or university may be accepted for a maximum of 30 credits. Candidates are typically expected to assist in at least one semester of teaching. Written and oral qualifying exams are normally taken by the end of the second year, with successful completion advancing the student to Ph.D. candidacy. An original research project must be presented as a dissertation and defended in an oral exam.

What You Need to Know To Apply

Application Deadlines:

The Fall Semester deadline for full consideration is the end of the first full week of January, well before the Graduate School’s suggested deadline. Applications may be submitted at a later date but it’s important to consider that graduate assistantship selections will begin by the end of January.

Spring Semester applications must be submitted by the Graduate School deadline of September 1. It is not the general practice for this department to enroll new grad students for spring semester but there are occasional exceptions. It is suggested that applicants contact faculty regarding placement availability prior to submitting a spring application. Spring applicants who meet eligibility requirements have the option to change their term applied for to the following fall semester, free of charge, by submitting a request form GS1C to the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the start of spring semester.

 Before You Apply:


  1. As stated above, make sure you have carefully gone over graduate program and faculty information on the Department website, including faculty research areas and contact information, or refer to our general faculty listing at which includes Watershed faculty offering PhD programs in the watershed disciplines.
  2. Note that you will be asked to provide your specific area of research interest when you apply online.
  3. We strongly advise that you make direct contact with faculty before submitting your application for fall, as well as spring, to discuss your pending application.
  4. In your Personal Statement (Statement of Research Interest), be sure to identify faculty you have either contacted or would like to work with as your advisor (you may list more than one, if applicable). Also describe your experiences/specific interests within your preferred research area and how this relates to your academic and professional objectives.


  1. Make sure you have carefully gone over the Graduate School For Prospective Students page, available at and then…
  2. Select Apply Now (right column).
  3. Click on the green plus sign at Review Degree Program Application for more you should be aware of.
  4. Now you are ready to select Application for Degree Program and be guided through the submittal process. Please be sure to provide all information requested to complete your online application.

If you need further information that isn’t covered on either the Department or Graduate School website, please feel free to contact the Geosciences Graduate Program Coordinator, Sharon Gale,

Recommended For Competitive Applications
  • GPA > 3.3
  • GRE rankings in the 70th percentile
  • Strong endorsements in three recommendation letters