Geological Sciences and Engineering graduate programs

Work with expert faculty on cutting-edge research in one of the most geologically interesting landscapes in the U.S.

The Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering offers research-oriented M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in geology, geophysics, and geological engineering as well as two interdisciplinary programs in hydrologic sciences.

Why chose our programs?

Wendy Calvin instructs two students on how to use a research instrument.

Dedicated faculty

Our leading research-active faculty receive funding from national and international agencies, providing graduate students with a thriving work environment, valuable hands-on experience, and financial support to pursue their own research.

Lake Tahoe sunset.

Rich outdoor environment

Our campus is less than an hour away from some of the most beautiful and geologically interesting landscapes in the country, like Lake Tahoe and the Black Rock desert. We learn in an environment that encourages exploration and recreation.

A group watches on as a man flies a drone with a mountain backdrop.

Facilities & instruments

Our graduate students enjoy a full complement of modern facilities, instrumentation, laboratories and technical support personnel, all paired with the many natural laboratories of Nevada, California and the western United States.

Field studies are a natural area of emphasis for our programs – 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 fieldwork, ranging from the 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.

Graduate students in the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering enjoy access to state-of-the-art field instrumentation and laboratories for geologic, seismic, gravity, magnetic, electrical and rock properties studies. The Department also collaborates with faculty from one of the largest digitally recorded seismic networks, the Nevada Seismological Laboratory as well as faculty in the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology.

Potential areas of specialization within the program include:

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

Explore department research

The power of science (fiction)

Graduate student Lauren Sankovitch brings a MARVELous background of experience to the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering

Lauren Sankovitch surrounded by Marvel Universe books and objects on display

How to cook chicken on a volcano

Six years of research leads to new theories (and new cooking methods) at the Puyehue Cordón Caulle volcano

Museum collections shed light on butterfly adaptations over time

Research looking at preserved butterflies reveals the complex story in a grain of pollen

Eroding rocks can put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. What does that mean for the climate?

Graduate student Mara Nutt looks for answers in the Santa Ynez Mountains

Ready to apply?

Review all Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering graduate programs admissions requirements and begin your application!