Jul 19, 2024  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog [Not Current Academic Year. Consult with Your Academic Advisor for Your Catalog Year]

Geophysics, PhD

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Graduate and Professional Fields of Study by College & Department

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics  >Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences  >Geophysics, PhD


Applicants to the PHD Program in geophysics should have earned a Master’s or Bachelor’s Degree in geophysics or related disciplines.  Applicants to graduate school will be evaluated based upon their Grade Point Average (GPA), Graduate Record Exams (GRE) scores, and letters of recommendation.  All non-native English-speaking students must take the TOEFL examination and receive a score of 550 or better for the paper exam, 213 or better for the computer exam, and 79 or better for the internet-based exam.The admission committee will evaluate the credentials of each applicant for the Ph.D. program, considering a broad range of criteria, including:

  1. Content of undergraduate and graduate programs and grades earned, particularly in the areas of Geosciences, Mathematics, Physics, and other relevant disciplines.
  2. Letters of recommendation from three (3) individuals (preferably faculty members), who are able to judge the candidate’s academic abilities and potential for scholarly research.
  3. Scores earned on the General GRE test (and TOEFL test, where applicable).
  4. Scientific, professional, and technical publications, and Master’s Thesis (if applicable).

In addition to these requirements, graduate admission is also  contingent upon a faculty advisor agreeing to supervise the applicant’s research.  Therefore, prospective students are strongly encouraged to contact faculty members in the applicant’s field of interest prior to the application deadline.


All students:  Complete applications for Fall semester admissions must be submitted for review no later than January 1.  Complete applications for Spring semester admissions must be submitted for review no later than September 1.  All of the required forms (letters, test scores, and original transcripts) must be received by our departmental office by the deadlines stated above.

Program Information

The award of the Doctorate of Philosophy degree signifies that the recipient has achieved broad knowledge of the discipline and demonstrated research competence meeting national standards through completion of an acceptable dissertation.

The first year of studies will concentrate on courses in the expected area of research, as well as courses needed to remove deficiencies that have been identified by the relevant graduate advisor and dissertation advisor upon admission.  The students are required to take the following courses, Rock Physics, Seismic Wave and Ray Theory, Geophysical Data Processing, and Potential Field Methods Advanced Physical Geology, and Earth Physics if they have deficiencies in these subjects.  During the first year, the student is expected to complete most course work and constitute his/her Dissertation Committee to reflect research interests.

The second year will consist of additional course work, where necessary, research, and final preparation for the Candidacy Examination and the presentation of the Dissertation Proposal.  The Candidacy Examination and Dissertation Proposal should be completed before the end of the fourth semester for full-time students and, before completion of five semesters for part-time students.  Upon successful presentation of the research proposal, the applicant will be granted Ph.D. Candidacy status.

Sequence and Timing

  • First year in program:
  1. Appropriate course work.
  2. Initiation of research.
  3. Establishment of PhD Research Committee.
  • Second year in program:
  1. Taking the Candidacy Exam (submitting a paper or taking a written exam)
  2. Presenting the Dissertation Proposal.
  3. Completion of all course work.
  4. Removal of all deficiencies.
  • Third and successive years:
  1. Conduct the proposed research
  2. Submit and revise paper
  3. Completion and defense of dissertation.

Financial Support for Students in the Doctoral Program

In accordance with University regulations, a student accepted into the program and offered Departmental support (e.g., Teaching Assistantship (TA) or Research Assistantship (RA)) may receive such support for up to 10 long semesters (5 years) provided the student is deemed to be making adequate progress toward the degree and such resources are available.  It is the goal of the department for students to finish their degree within the shortest possible time consistent with the completion of an acceptable dissertation.  Students must be registered as full-time students and may not hold any additional employment while holding a TA or RA.

Progress toward the degree will normally be measured in terms of course work (maintaining at least a B average), elimination of deficiencies, timely selection of a Dissertation Committee, completion of requirements for Candidacy and presentation of a Dissertation Proposal, and submission of research papers.  After the first two semesters, progress will be evaluated and continued support will be granted on the basis of a favorable review and availability of resources.  The Dissertation Committee will review the student’s progress, inform the student of their findings, and place a statement in the student’s departmental file in each subsequent semester.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Graduate and Professional Fields of Study by College & Department