Doctor of Philosophy in Geophysics

Armed with an array of cutting-edge technologies and tactics, geophysicists apply mathematical and physical principles to the study of the earth and planets.  

Program at a glance

Admissions cycles: Fall, Spring
Application deadlines: Jan. 1, Sept. 15
Assistantship types available: Contact the department
Graduate director: Stacia Gordon

Why choose this Ph.D. in geophysics?

The University of Nevada, Reno geophysics program prides itself on bringing traditional classroom subjects, such as mathematics and physics, into the great outdoors. Hence its motto: "The earth is our laboratory."

Students in this Ph.D. program enjoy opportunities for study and research in the following fields:

  • Seismology. The program operates a major regional seismic network, and uses the data to examine causes and source physics of earthquakes.
  • Earthquake hazards. The program studies and models strong earthquake ground motions from all over the world.
  • Geophysical exploration. The program uses seismic, electrical and potential-field techniques to discover what is below the surface of the earth.
  • Remote sensing. The program uses satellite data to study earth resources, crustal deformation, global change and explore the nature of other planets in this solar system.
  • Paleomagnetism. The program uses the changing magnetic field of the earth, frozen on rocks and sediments, to learn how the earth has deformed over the past thousands -- and even millions -- of years.
  • Geodesy. The program studies signals from satellites to monitor locations with millimeter precision to learn how the earth is deforming now.

Fields of specialization for students include:

  • Applied geophysics
  • Earthquake seismology
  • Environmental earth science
  • Experimental geophysics
  • Exploration geophysics
  • Geologic hazards
  • GIS
  • Geostatistics
  • Hydrogeology
  • Mineral exploration
  • Neotectonics
  • Paleomagnetism
  • Paleoseismology
  • Planetary geology
  • Quaternary sciences
  • Reflection seismology
  • Remote sensing
  • Rock fracture mechanics
  • Rock mass characterization and design
  • Stratigraphy
  • Structural analysis
  • Tectonics

Graduate-level study in geophysics explores the global properties of the earth (gravity, magnetic field, crustal motions, interior dynamics) and the determination of near-surface and interior properties through the use of seismology, electromagnetics, potential fields, remote sensing, geodesy and Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Students in the University's Ph.D. program gain experience in using geologic observations and geophysical measurements to analyze earth science and related engineering problems using current, industry-standard computational and Geographic Information System (GIS) tools.

While graduates of this program may pursue teaching or research at the university level, the curriculum provides a broad grounding in physical and mathematical fundamentals useful in settings beyond academia, including energy, natural resource and engineering industries.

How do I apply?

All applicants must follow the University Graduate School admissions procedure. To apply for admission to the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering graduate program, prospective students must submit the following with their Graduate School application:

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE): Proof of a score at the 50th percentile or higher in the verbal and quantitative sections
  • Three letters of recommendation supporting the student's ability to perform at the Ph.D. level
  • A two-page statement of interest stating why the University of Nevada, Reno is their school of choice, why they wish to pursue this degree, and what specialties and/or faculty they are interested in
  • Copies of academic transcripts
  • Copies of TOEFL scores (international students only)

For full graduate standing, the student must have completed at least 30 credits of undergraduate work in geology or related fields.

Complete applications must be submitted online (or received by the Graduate School through the mail) by:

  • Jan. 1 for fall admission
  • Sept. 15 for spring admission

Visit the department's website to learn more about the admissions process.

Is funding available?

Please contact the department for information on assistantships.

What's next?

Ready to start? You can apply to the University to begin your journey. You can also complete the form on this page to connect with a faculty member or contact one of the following professors if you have questions on a specific research area: