2017-2018 Graduate Course Catalog 
    Jul 25, 2024  
2017-2018 Graduate Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Earth Sciences, PhD

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Laura K. Lautz, Chair
204 Heroy Geology Laboratory,


Suzanne L. Baldwin, Marion E. Bickford, Daniel Curewtiz (lecturer), Paul G. Fitzgerald, Gregory D. Hoke, Linda C. Ivany, Christopher Junium, Jeffrey A. Karson, Laura K. Lautz, Zunli Lu, Robert Moucha, Cathryn R. Newton, Scott D. Samson, Christopher A. Scholz, Donald I. Siegel, Jay Thomas, Bruce H. Wilkinson

Graduate study in the Department of Earth Sciences offers students opportunities for field-based geological and geophysical research worldwide. Ongoing research in the Department is focused primarily in the areas of environmental geology/global change and tectonics/crustal evolution-two of the most rapidly developing areas of the earth sciences. The Department is housed in the William B. Heroy Geology Laboratory, which contains state-of-the-art analytical and computing facilities, modern well-equipped teaching spaces, and a dedicated Earth Sciences library. All of the faculty are engaged in research and teaching.

The Department typically has a combination of students pursuing either the M.S. or Ph.D. degree. Several of our faculty-led research projects are large collaborative, multi-institutional, multi-national programs that afford our graduate students opportunities to work in diverse parts of the world with teams of internationally recognized scholars. Department faculty and graduate students are currently pursuing field studies world wide.


Incoming students are expected to have two semesters of the following courses: calculus, chemistry, and physics or biology. In addition, incoming students need at least three distribution courses in the Earth Sciences, such as: paleobiology, sedimentology, mineralogy, structural geology, tectonics, geochemistry, geophysics, climatology, paleooceanography, paleoclimatology, marine geology, and/or hydrogeology. Students are strongly encouraged to have participated in an approved summer field course or comparable field experience. Substitutions may be granted upon petition of the Department.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Conduct independent research in the Earth Sciences at the specialist level

2. Present and communicate Earth Science information to a general audience through undergraduate teaching of laboratories and recitations

3. Analyze and evaluate research results

4. Communicate scientific research in writing at the specialist level

5. Describe fundamental concepts in earth sciences relevant to the area of specialization

Degree Programs

The Department offers programs of graduate study leading to the M.A., M.S., and Ph.D. Minimum requirements for each degree are an average GPA of 3.0 in major subjects and an overall average of 2.8.

Students who wish to continue graduate study toward a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences following a master’s degree must submit a Syracuse University Graduate School application form, including letters of reference, to the Department.

Ph.D. in Earth Sciences

72 total graduate credit hours are required.

Ph.D. students coming to the program with a M.S. may receive credit for up to 30 hours. An additional 42 credit hours are required. At least 12 of those 42 credit hours must be in graduate coursework, with the balance made up by dissertation credits.

Ph.D. students coming to the program without a M.S. must take at least 36 credits in graduate course work (the equivalent of 24 M.S. course work credits plus 12 Ph.D. course work credits). The balance of the 72 credits will be made up in dissertation credits.

Most students can satisfy the requirements within four years after completing the master’s degree. The Ph.D. candidate must pass an oral qualifying examination and must give an oral defense of the dissertation.

Graduate Awards

Graduate students are expected to pursue their studies energetically and to complete their advanced degree work without undue delay. Financial support typically will be given to a student for four semesters at the master’s level or eight semesters in the Ph.D. program.

Graduate Scholarships Awarded to students with superior qualifications, provide, in most cases, full tuition for academic year.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships:

Offered to some Graduate Scholarship recipients; no more than an average of 20 hours of work per week; 8.5 months; stipend in addition to tuition scholarship for up to 24 credits per year as needed.

Graduate Research Assistantships:

Offered to some Graduate Scholarship recipients; no more than an average of 20 hours per week; 8.5 to 12 months; stipends variable in addition to tuition scholarship for up to 24 credits per year as needed.

Syracuse University Graduate Fellowships:

Stipend for 8.5 months of full-time study; tuition scholarship for 15 credits per semester for a total of 30 for the academic year.

Department Research Support:

The Department has various funds available to support graduate student travel and research.


The Heroy Geology Laboratory provides well-equipped laboratories and student study research offices. The Department houses state-of-the-art workstation-based seismic data processing, GIS, and image-processing facilities; first-class laboratories for U/Pb geochronology, 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology, light stable isotope geochemistry, (U-Th)/He dating, and fission track thermochronology. The Department also has a range of sample preparation facilities, clean labs, two electronmicroscopes for imaging and elemental analysis, a direct current plasmaspectrometer, ion-chromatograph and an array of field geophysical gear. A 16-unit Windows- and Macintosh-based computer cluster is available to all Department members. The Department also houses a dedicated 28,844 volume research library.

The University’s location is central to diverse geologic terrain including the classic Paleozoic sedimentary rocks of the Appalachian plateau, the complex structures and metamorphic rocks of the Adirondack Mountains, the Canadian Shield, and Quaternary sequences in the Finger Lakes. The scope of departmental research is international.

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