PhD Graduate Program

PhD in Earth Sciences

It is not a requirement for students entering our PhD program to have a Masters degree. 


students working in a science lab

PhD Degree Requirements

  • At least 12 credits in the major field.
  • At least 12 credits in the minor or supporting field.
  • Up to 40% of the credits can be transferred from other graduate institutions. The transfer is arranged by entering the courses/credits to be transferred onto the online Graduate Planning and Audit System (GPAS), which will be approved at the Department level and submitted to the Graduate Students and Progress Office (GSSP) for final approval.
  • Although the GSSP will allow A, B, C, and S grades on a Degree Program, A/F coursework must be completed with an average grade of C- or better.
  • Credits taken at 5xxx and 8xxx levels count toward graduate requirements and up to 9 credits taken at the 4xxx level can be used.
  • Minimum of 24 thesis credits are required.
  • Written Preliminary Examination.
  • Oral Preliminary Examination.
  • Written Thesis.
  • Final thesis defense examination.

Doctoral Degree Completion Policy:

  • All students must complete ESCI 8001 (Introductory Graduate Seminar) in their first year.
  • Transfer credits for PhD students entering with a Master's degree: students are required by the University to complete at least 60 percent of the coursework for their official degree programs (excluding thesis credits) as registered University of Minnesota Graduate Students.  With the approval of the advisor, the director of graduate studies, and the Graduate Education Office, the transfer of up to 40 percent of the degree program coursework can be transferred. For more information, please refer to the Graduate School catalog.

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Can I switch degree plans?

Yes.  Consultation with your advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies is required.
Please review steps to make the change on the Graduate School website.

Does the Department offer financial aid?

Yes. Please visit our page for Financing Graduate School which shows departmental support as well as what a student can expect in terms of student fees.

When are applications due?

The application deadline is DECEMBER 15 for admission for the fall semester of the following year. A complete application must be submitted by 11:59pm Central time for consideration. An application is considered complete if it includes everything on the application checklist on our Admissions page.

What if I don't know what I want to study?

It is a requirement for admission that a faculty member agrees to be your advisor.  So, before you begin the application process, please review review the research areas and faculty members in the department, then contact the faculty member(s) directly with whom you wish to work.