Why University of Minnesota?

The graduate program at the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences is ranked among the top 25 programs nationally and offers both Master’s and Doctoral degrees. We provide a collaborative work environment where you will complete coursework and research with faculty members who are well-known and recognized in their respective fields, including two members of the National Academy of Sciences. Our learning infrastructure provides an ideal setting for your graduate studies with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities in a beautiful urban environment. In the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences you will be part of a vibrant and supportive community of scholars where interdisciplinary collaboration is the norm and where the faculty and staff are deeply committed to your success.

Commitment to Accessibility, Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

As written in our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Statement,

We are committed to AccessibilityJusticeDiversityEquity, and Inclusion

The School of Earth & Environmental Sciences is a community of people from many cultures and social backgrounds. We collaborate to create an inclusive environment in which all feel welcome and supported. 

We are committed – as individuals and as a School – to respect and foster diversity, which is a powerful force for positive change in our community and beyond. We have important work to do together as Earth and environmental scientists.

Students in our department have been engaged and passionate about these issues and we applaud their initiative. The department's DEI Committee is made up of people from all employee groups- faculty, researchers, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students. (LINK to DEI Drupal lite page). 

Snapshot of the demographics of students currently enrolled in our graduate programs:

  • 57% identify as female
  • 43% identify as male
  • 22% are from underrepresented groups
  • 28% are international

We encourage you to browse the statistics at this site: Program Statistics for Earth Sciences ​​​​​.

Financial Support

All students entering our PhD and Plan A MS (thesis) programs are guaranteed support that provides 

  • a stipend in the form of research assistantships (RA), teaching assistantships (TA), and/or fellowships;
  • tuition coverage for up to 14 credits per semester;
  • and a health care package.
  • Students must be registered full-time (6-14 credits) in order to receive these benefits.
  • Guaranteed support is typically, 4 years for PhD students coming without a MS; 3 years for Ph.D. students with a MS; and 2 years for Plan A MS students.
    • Note: Plan B MS (project) and Plan C MS (course-work only) students are not guaranteed financial support but can be given assistantships on a fund- and job-available basis.

All first year, incoming PhD or Plan A MS students will receive summer support their first year (TA/RA). 

We offer modest funds for Travel Grants for which students can apply help defray the costs of presenting at a professional conference (e.g. GSA) during any given year.  

The Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences is fortunate enough to have generous alumni who initiate and contribute funds for the purpose of providing fellowships to our graduate students so that they can spend time concentrating on their studies and research. Call for applications comes out mid-spring semester with decisions made and presented in time for the Awards Potluck ceremony usually in late April. These fellowships are for the following academic year. LINK

Please visit our Graduate Student Financing Graduate School page for more details.


Modern Teaching and Research Facilities

The vast majority of research, teaching, and office space is in John T. Tate Hall on the east bank of the Minneapolis/Twin Cities campus.  In 2017, the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences (sans Polar Geospatial Center and Minnesota Geological Survey) moved into the new renovated Tate Hall which provided us with modern research and teaching facilities.

Graduate students are provided with office space while supported in the department, which includes a secure desk and cabinet.  The "grad commons" is an open space for study or informal social gathering. 

Individual research groups provide modern and often state-of-the-art research facilities. Some facilities at the U and in the department (e.g. XRCT, Microprobe Lab) are available for students to use (usually with a fee paid by advisors' grant) to assist with research.  Please view the Facilities page for the department.

Our classrooms and, more importantly, the four teaching labs in Tate are clean and modern. Each are equipped with up-to-date projection equipment, three have fume hoods, and the microscope lab includes the ability to project what is seen on the microscope.


We recognize that having a sense of community is a very important aspect to graduate education experience and graduate students play a key role in the success of our department, not just in terms of academics and research.  Through the various committees and social activities and events, graduate students have the opportunity to get involved within the department and the student voice can often help to effect change.

Committees - virtually every committee in the department has graduate representation, in fact most of the 'action' committees have a larger contingency of graduate students. A few examples of the more active/action committees include the Outreach Committee, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, and both Graduate and Undergraduate Studies Committees.

Seminars - the graduate students are involved in the scheduling of departmental seminar speakers and are able to provide recommendations for speakers. Each departmental seminar is followed by refreshments (when in-person) and the graduate students are responsible for that activity.
There are also weekly lunch-time seminars ('hard rock lunch' and 'soft rock lunch') that also include talks on diversity, equity, and inclusivity.  Everyone is welcome to attend any of these seminar.

Graduate Student Led - the graduate students run their own weekly lunch-time seminar - OGRES (OnGoing REearch Seminar) where students can discuss topics of interest or present their research as practice for presenting at a national meeting or interview.
The Student Symposium is an event where both graduate and undergraduate students can present their scientific research in a friendly, constructive setting. Started by a few graduate students in Spring 2015, this event continues to be planned and run by a committee of graduate students. The symposium is a great chance for students to receive feedback from researchers and faculty as well as from their peers, and to connect with a broad, environmentally-minded audience. ​

Social activities - the department hosts several social functions during the year - a fall picnic (typically the first Saturday after classes begin); a fall potluck (toward the end of the semester); and the spring awards potluck which is where we not only mingle and eat but more importantly where the department presents fellowship and scholarship awards to students.

bicyclist near Weisman Art Museum