2022-2023 Graduate Course Catalog 
    Jun 14, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Earth Sciences, PhD

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Gregory D. Hoke, Chair

204 Heroy Geology Laboratory



Suzanne Baldwin, Tripti Bhattacharya, Melissa Chipman, Daniel Curewitz, Paul Fitzgerald, Gregory Hoke, Linda Ivany, Christopher Junium, Jeffrey Karson, Christa Kelleher, Laura Lautz, Zunli Lu, Robert Moucha, Cathryn Newton, Scott Samson, Christopher Scholz, Jay Thomas, Sam Tuttle, Tao Wen

Program Description

Graduate study in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences offers students opportunities for field-based geological and geophysical research worldwide. Ongoing research in the department is focused primarily in the areas of solid earth sciences/tectonics/crustal evolution, climate science and water resources/hydrology. 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. 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 worldwide.


Incoming students are expected to have two semesters of the following courses: calculus, chemistry, and physics or biology. Applicants must have already taken (or take during their first two years of graduate study) at least three Earth Science courses, such as: Paleobiology, Sedimentology, Mineralogy, Structural Geology, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Climatology, Geomorphology 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. The department only admits students that have identified faculty advisors, so it is highly recommended prospective students contact potential advisors in your field of interest either before or after application. GRE scores are now optional for graduate admission and departmental support (teaching and research assistantships). We evaluate applications based on fit with your advisor, grades and GPA, coursework, personal statement, research experience, and letters of recommendation. International/non-native English speakers must take the TOEFL exam.

Student Learning Outcomes

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

2. Present and communicate scientific 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

48 total graduate credit hours are required. The following course work towards the 48 total graduate credits are required with exception for students with M.S. 

Ph.D. students coming to the program with a M.S. may receive credit for up to 30 hours. An additional 18 credit hours are required. At least 12 of those 18 credit hours must be in graduate coursework, with the balance made up by dissertation credits. Incoming students already holding an M.S. degree must complete the Foundations 9-credit block at Syracuse University, minus the Numerical Skills requirement if they have prior equivalent coursework. Prior coursework from the M.S. degree may also count toward the Graduate Scope of Earth Sciences 9-credit block requirement.

Ph.D. students coming to the program without a M.S. must take at least 36 credits in graduate course work that includes the Foundations and Graduate Scope of Earth Sciences 9-crediit blocks. The remaining 18 credits will comprise coursework numbered 500 and higher. The remaining 12 credits are dissertation credits (EAR 999). The Ph.D. candidate must pass an oral qualifying examination and must give an oral defense of the dissertation.

Foundations (9 credits)

1 Numerical Skills lectures course: (3 credits)

Discipline-Specific Seminar Course (1 credit, repeated once)

Graduate Scope of Earth Sciences (9 credits)

1 cross-disciplinary* course in the Erath System Sciences: (3 credits)

*courses that are relevant across all facets of the Earth Sciences

2 courses chosen from 2 of the 3 department disciplinary areas: (6-7 credits)

cross-cutting courses only count once

Solid Earth/Geodynamics

Water Science

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; 9 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; 9 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 9 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 has well-equipped laboratories and graduate student offices. The department houses state-of-the-art workstation-based seismic data processing, GIS, and image-processing facilities; first-class laboratories for geochronology (U/Pb), thermochronology (40Ar/39Ar and fission track) and research utilizing all noble gases.  The department hosts two regional user facilities - the Electron Microprobe Lab (with a new Cameca SXFive instrument, plus a Renishaw Raman Spectrometer) and the Multi-Sensor Core Logging Lab. Also housed in Heroy are the stable isotope geochemistry lab, the paleoclimate dynamics lab, a low-temperature geochemistry lab, a water chemistry lab and a water dynamics lab. Amongst other instrumentation are a scanning electron microscope, a number of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) with various cameras, geophysical equipment such as ground-penetrating radar and resistivity systems, and a 384-core computing cluster. The department also has a range of sample preparation facilities and clean labs.

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