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Ph.D. in Geo-Engineering

Program Contact Info

Graduate Director:
Dr. Robert Watters
(775) 784-6069

The Geological Engineering faculty of the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering, along with the Department of Mining Engineering, offer an interdisciplinary Ph.D. degree in geo-engineering. Applications for this program may be submitted to either department. A broad range of dissertation research topics is envisioned for students from the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering including soil and rock slope stability, rock mechanics, geologic fracture mechanics, volcano hazards, urban geo-engineering, aerospace remote sensing, pure and applied geomathematics/geostatistics, and planetary geomechanics.

Fields of Specialization

  • applied geophysics
  • geologic hazards
  • GIS
  • geomechanics
  • geostatistics
  • hydrogeology
  • industrial minerals
  • neotectonics
  • paleoseismology
  • planetary geology
  • remote sensing
  • rock fracture mechanics
  • rock slope instability processes
  • rock mass characterization and design
  • structural analysis
  • structural geology
  • tectonics
  • waste containment

Prospective applicants should have a degree in any branch of the geological sciences, physical sciences or engineering. Degree requirements for this program are listed in the Graduate School section of this catalog; contact either department office or the geological engineering faculty for more details.

The Ph.D. degree requires 73 credits including 1 credit of comprehensive examination. The comprehensive examination credit cannot be used to fulfill the 30 credits of required 700-level course work.


Students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university to be accepted as a graduate student. For full graduate standing, at least 30 credits of undergraduate work in geology and/or related fields must have been completed.

To be considered for admission, students must meet the following minimum university requirements:

  • Grade-point average (GPA): Four-year undergraduate GPA of 2.75 for applicants to a M.S. degree program, or 3.0 GPA for a Ph.D. degree program.
  • Minimum TOEFL score (if applicable): 550, with scores sent directly to the university. Note that 600 is recommended because students below a 600 must then pass a bridge test upon entering the university.

Additional Requirements

For admission to the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering, prospective students must also submit the following:

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE): Combined score of 1200 or higher in the verbal and quantitative sections (V + Q ≥ 1200) — sent directly to the UNR Graduate School, with unofficial copies also sent separately to the Department
  • Three letters of recommendation certifying ability to perform graduate-level work at the desired level (M.S. or Ph.D.) — sent directly to the Department
  • A two page personal statement of interest stating why UNR is their school of choice, why they wish to pursue the desired degree (M.S. or Ph.D.), and what specialties and/or faculty the applicant is interested in — sent directly to the Department
  • Copies of transcripts and TOEFL scores (if applicable) — sent directly to the Department

The Admissions Committee gives comparable weight to each item submitted as part of the application package so an applicant will not be denied admission based solely on his/her GPA or GRE scores. It is advisable for applicants to contact prospective faculty advisors to discuss their interests prior to applying. A physical visit to UNR to see the Department and meet with the prospective faculty advisor can also be critical to a successful application for graduate study.

Application Deadlines and Addresses

For fall semester admission, complete applications (i.e., the items listed above) must be received by the Department no later than January 1st; for spring semester admission, completed applications must be received by the Department no later than September 15. GRE scores and official transcripts are sent directly to the UNR Graduate School to arrive there well before these stated deadlines; the applicant's personal statement and letters of recommendation are to be sent by these deadlines to:

Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering/172
Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557
Phone: (775) 784-6050
Fax: (775) 784-1833

For the Graduate Program of Hydrologic Sciences, applications and letters of reference must be received by January 10 or August 10 for the appropriate admission cycle. Please contact this program directly if you are interested in applying.

Related Degrees and Programs

Contact College of Science

Phone (775) 784-4591
Fax (775) 784-4592
Location Davidson Math and Science Center
Address University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557

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