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Ph.D. in Geology

Students may enter either a major or major-minor program in geology, choosing an appropriate course of study for their academic or career goals. Graduate students conduct research within the department and/or in association with the Center for Neotectonic Studies, the Ralph J. Roberts Center for Research in Economic Geology, the Arthur Brant Laboratory for Exploration Geophysics, the Desert Research Institute, the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, the Seismological Laboratory, and the United States Geological Survey-Reno Field Office.

Field Study Opportunities

Both regional and international research programs are available. Field-related studies and research are among the strengths of our programs. The University of Nevada, Reno is located near the boundary between the Great Basin and Sierra Nevada physiographic provinces, and is near many world-class localities for field studies, ranging from glaciated high country to high desert environments. Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, Great Basin, and Lassen Volcanic national parks are all within easy reach of Reno. We have state-of-the-art field instrumentation for geologic, seismic, gravity, magnetic, electrical, and rock properties studies. We also have one of the world's largest digitally recorded seismic networks.

State of the Art Labs

State-of-the-art laboratories include: electron microprobe, scanning electron microscope, petrographic microscopes, reflected light microscopes, stable isotope geochemistry, X-ray diffraction, fluid inclusion facilities, paleomagnetism and rock magnetism, earthquake source modelling, conodont and radiolarian biostratigraphy, geographic information systems (GIS), computer graphics, computer modeling, networked mini-supercomputers for data processing and scientific visualization, laboratory testing frames, and shear boxes. These laboratories support research in geology, geochemistry, geophysics, hydrogeology, mineralogy, mineralization, petrology, petrochemistry, slope stability, rock mechanics and tectonics.


Both the master of science and Ph.D. degrees require 1 credit of comprehensive examination. The master's degree is 31 credit and the Ph.D. degree is 73 credits. The comprehensive examination credit may not be used to satisfy the 18 credits of 700-level course work at the master's level or the 30 credits of 700-level course work at the doctoral level.

Learn more about applying to the Geology program.


  • geologic hazards
  • geostatistics
  • global change
  • hydrogeology
  • mineral exploration
  • mineral deposits
  • mineralogy
  • invertebrate and vertebrate paleontology
  • paleoseismology
  • petrology and petrography of igneous and metamorphic rocks
  • planetary geology
  • quaternary sciences
  • regional geology

Related Degrees and Programs

Contact Geological Sciences and Engineering

Phone (775) 784-6050
Fax (775) 784-1833
Location Paul Laxalt Mineral Engineering
Address University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557

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