Ph.D. in Geology

The University's Ph.D. in geology invites students to explore earth-science research areas such as geodynamics, volcanology, geochemistry and petrology, earth and planetary surface processes, earthquakes and seismology, and mineral and energy resources -- to name just a few.

Program at a glance

Application deadlines: Jan. 1 (fall), Sept. 15 (spring)
Admissions cycles: Fall, Spring
Assistantship types available: Contact department
Graduate Director: Scott Tyler

Why choose this Ph.D. in geology?

Field studies are a natural area of emphasis for this program – and not simply because the faculty is highly active in world-leading research. 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 work, ranging from glaciated high country to high desert environments. Yosemite, Great Basin and Lassen Volcanic National Parks and Lake Tahoe are all within easy reach of Reno.

Geology Ph.D. students at the University enjoy access to state-of-the-art field instrumentation and laboratories for geologic, seismic, gravity, magnetic, electrical and rock properties studies. The Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering also collaborates with faculty from the one of the largest digitally recorded seismic networks, the Nevada Seismological Laboratory. More information on departmental research is on the Geological Sciences Research Specialties page, including details on which areas of study faculty members cover.

Potential areas of specialization within the program include:

  • Earthquakes and neotectonics
  • Geologic hazards
  • Geomorphology
  • Global change
  • Igneous petrology and volcanology
  • Metamorphic geochemistry
  • Mineral exploration and ore genesis
  • Paleoseismology
  • Planetary geology
  • Quaternary sciences
  • Regional geology
  • Seismology and seismic hazards

How do I apply?

Applicants to the Ph.D. program may be admitted with either a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited college or university. For full graduate standing, at least 30 credits of undergraduate work in geology or related fields must be completed.

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

  • Cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better
  • Minimum TOEFL score (if applicable): 600 in the written exam (100 in the iBT or 7 in the IELTS). An English proficiency exam is required unless your country of origin is Antigua, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, British Guyana, Canada (except for Quebec), Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, St. Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago or the United Kingdom.

All applicants must apply to the University Graduate School. For admission to the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering, prospective students must submit the items below in addition to the Graduate School application:

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores of 50 percent or higher in the verbal and quantitative sections
  • Three letters of recommendation certifying ability to perform graduate-level work at the Ph.D. level
  • A one- to two-page personal statement of interest stating why the University of Nevada, Reno is the student's school of choice, why the student wishes to pursue the program and in what specialties and/or faculty the student is interested
  • Copies of all college transcripts and -- if applicable -- TOEFL scores

The admissions committee gives comparable weight to each item submitted as part of the application package, so applicants will not be denied admission based solely on their GPA or GRE scores. Please note that students are not admitted solely on scores and letters: The program also requires a faculty member to indicate willingness to act as the student's adviser. To that end, identifying a faculty member of interest and communicating with him or her in advance can be very beneficial for applicants.

Complete applications must be submitted online with any supporting documents received by the Graduate School by Jan. 1 for fall semester and Sept. 15 for spring semester.

For more on geology Ph.D. admissions, see the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering graduate page.

Is funding available?

Contact the department for current details on teaching and research assistantships. Please note: The process of winning financial support for this course of study is extremely competitive, and awardees usually have records well above the stated minima.

What's next?

You can apply now if you are ready to begin at the University or contact the department for more information on the program:

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

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