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Graduate Studies in Earth Sciences

Graduate study in the Department of Earth Sciences offers students opportunities for field and laboratory-based geological and geophysical research spanning the Earth’s deep interior, lithosphere and surface on a host of timescales. Several of our faculty lead collaborative domestic and international research programs that afford our graduate students opportunities to work in diverse parts of the world with teams of internationally recognized scholars. Diverse, interdisciplinary research opportunities  leading to M.S. and Ph.D. degrees include:

Tectonics Geomorphology Hydrogeology & Hydrology
Sedimentology Thermochronology Environmental Geology
Biogeochemistry Isotope Geochemistry Computational Geophysics
Paleobiology Paleolimnology Global Environmental Change

Our 30-35 graduate students are typically supported by full-tuition scholarships and stipends through teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or fellowships. Typically, M.S. students receive four semesters of support, while Ph.D. students are eligible for eight.

 The overall goal of the Graduate Program is to provide a pathway to advanced degrees in the Earth Sciences through research, education and other relevant experiences. All students receiving advanced degrees from the Department acquire experience with the following:

• Skill in the collection and analysis of data

• Preparing research results with the ultimate goal of publications and reports

• Experience writing proposals to fund research or teaching objectives

• Building a broad network of relevant professional contacts outside the Department

• Teaching experience in labs, lectures and seminars

 In order to help students meet these objectives, each student has a faculty advisor and an advisory committee that meets periodically to evaluate student progress and provide feedback.

Thirty credits are required. Six of the credits are in thesis credit and 24 credits are for graduate course work. M.S. candidates must pass an oral defense of their thesis.  See the Earth Sciences MS program page for details.

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 thesis 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 thesis 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.

See the Earth Sciences PhD program page for details.

Applications for fall admissions strongly encouraged by JANUARY 15th; later applications considered but with diminished chances of financial support.  Students are strongly encouraged to apply for MS or PhD degrees.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have earned a B.S. or a B.A. degree. Our minimum scores for consideration are: Quantitative ≥600 or ≥148, Verbal ≥450 or ≥150 and W ≥3.   Most competitive applicants score well above this range.  International/non-English speaking students must take the TOEFL exam.  We generally follow the University guidelines, which require a minimum composite TOEFL score of 85 and no subscore below 20, except writing which must be 21 or higher, although the University allows departments to make their own decisions as necessary. 

It is expected that all students admitted to the Department of Earth Sciences that will be candidates for TA appointments will, without exception, have the background and experience to be capable of holding a teaching assistantship for an introductory Earth Sciences course.   Potential graduate students will have taken, or will take during their first two years in residence, at least three core Earth Science courses, such as: Paleobiology, Sedimentology, Mineralogy, Structural Geology, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Climatology, Geomorphology and/or Hydrogeology.  In addition, all incoming graduate students are expected to have successfully completed a full year (2 semesters) of Calculus, Chemistry, and either Physics or Biology.  It is recommended that they have participated in a field course or approved field experience.

Financial Support

Students are typically supported financially for four semesters for students in the MS program and eight semesters for students in the PhD program. This support typically comes in the form of a teaching or research assistantship with a tuition scholarship during the academic year, with the student free to conduct their research full-time during the summer. Students may also be supported by their faculty research advisor's external grants or by Syracuse University Fellowships. Applying to local and national programs for graduate fellowships is strongly encouraged. (See Awards & Fellowships

Given Syracuse's low cost of living, this is a comfortable income. In addition, tuition is paid in full, and Syracuse University provides excellent health insurance options. University Fellows, graduate assistants, and graduate associates are eligible to participate in the University's Group Health Care Plan. Coverage details and premium rates can be found at the Office of Human Resources, Employee Benefits.

Application Procedure

Applications for Fall admissions strongly encouraged by JANUARY 15th. Start your Online application.  Incomplete applications may delay review of your application, therefore, you should request your transcripts and encourage recommenders to submit their letters through the online application system as soon as possible.

General Application Instructions

The Enrollment Management Center (EMC) directs the processing of admissions and applications for all programs of graduate study. To start your online application, please link to: Graduate Admissions.  

Required Application Materials:  Graduate Application Form (online), Personal Statement: include research and/or teaching experience, research interests, career goals, and identify faculty members in our program you are interested in working under.  Three (3) letters of recommendation, Official Transcripts, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required of all applicants. (CODE: 2823). Officials scores must be reported.TOEFL or IELTS is required of all international applicants whose native language is not English. Officials scores must be reported.

 Applications are reviewed by the Department's Graduate Admissions Committee. Decisions regarding suitability for admission and nominations for fellowships are made as soon as possible.

Congratulations on joining the Earth Sciences program at Syracuse University.  We are looking forward to your arrival at SU and wanted to help you to prepare for your start.  A good reference for you to use is the future graduate student checklist at   In the meantime, please read the material below and let us know if you have any further questions.

Mark Your Calendars

Before Arrival

1.        Activate your SU NetID and password so that you can activate your SU email address and register for classes.  You can refer to the link above for instructions.  See

2.       Plan to register for classes on August 1st.  You should have had a discussion with your faculty advisor regarding what courses you should register for in Fall.  If you are unsure of which classes to register for, please email your faculty advisor.  The steps on how to register are in the link above and additional help can be found at  This early registration will help us determine which labs or recitations you will be teaching if you are on a teaching assistantship.  We will be able to fine tune your class choices during the departmental orientation.

3.  Register for the Teaching Assistant Orientation Program (registration information is emailed to you by the University TA program) or click here.  ALL incoming students regardless of whether your appointment is for a fellowship, research or teaching assistantship.

4.  Please email Dr. Greg Hoke (Director of Graduate Studies) at to tell us your arrival date in Syracuse.  Please check with the Lillian and Emanuel Slutzker Center for International Services (LESCIS)for when you must arrive. 

5. Housing:  If you have not yet found or arranged permanent housing before your arrival:

a.  You can email Dr. Greg Hoke (Director of Graduate Studies) at if you are interested in rooming with a current graduate student.  She can forward your contact information to the current graduate students to see if anyone has space, or

b.  here are some links to help in your search. The Office of Off-Campus and Commuter Services is a good place to start. See "Off-Campus Living" links.  Orange Housing:  Sutton Management Click on Find an Apartment.  Campus Hill Apartments:, UV Colvin:


There are several area hotels close to campus. You will need to make a hotel reservation BEFORE you arrive. See Visit Us: Accommodations

6.  We encourage you to review the materials that were sent to you with your appointment letter including the Earth Science Graduate Program Guidelines and referenced attachments.  We know that once you get here you will become busy with course work and research, so we wanted to give you the opportunity to review these materials before arriving.  We will briefly be going over these material during orientation so have your questions ready!

On Arrival

International Student Check In:

International students must check in with the Lillian and Emanuel Slutzker Center for International Services (LESCIS) as soon as possible after entering the United States. The Slutzker Center is located at 310 Walnut Place. Be sure to bring your documentation so they can prepare the I-9 form for payroll. They can be reached by e-mail at or by telephone at 315-443-2457.

All New Grad Department Check In:

Shortly after arrival, ALL new graduate students should come to the Earth Sciences Graduate Office located in room 204 Heroy Geology Laboratory. You will be assigned a mailbox, asked for your local address, and have your photo taken for our department directory.

For US citizens and permanent residents, I-9 forms are to be completed at the Human Resources Satellite Office located at 210 Steele Hall. We cannot put you on payroll until you complete this task.  Don’t forget your passport for identification purposes.

Orientation - Fall Semester

The University

International teaching assistant orientation starts August xx, 20yy.  The remaining incoming graduate students join the international students at the general teaching assistant orientation starts August 16th.  The university orientation ends on Friday August xxth. The international students have an additional meeting at the Slutzker center for international students from August xxth-xxth.

 The Earth Sciences Department

Our Departmental orientation starts August xxth and ends on August xxst.

Classes begin on August xxst.


 If you have any questions, please feel free to contact:

Dr. Greg Hoke

Director of Graduate Studies, (315)443-1903

Milestones-Sequence of steps

Departmental Graduate Program Guidelines

Attachment A (Sample Orientation Schedule)
Attachment B (Check Sheet For Initial Advisory Review)
Attachment C (Formation of Permanent Graduate Committee)
Attachment D (Program of Study Form)
Attachment E (Annual Report)
Attachment F (Sample of Research Proposal Cover Page)
Attachment F2 (Email Notifications)
Attachment G (Sample of Qualifying Exam Pass/Fail Memo)
Attachment H (Graduate School Detailed Format Guidelines for Theses and Dissertations)
Attachment H1 (Preliminary Cover Page to Defend)
Attachment I (Graduate School Steps: Procedures for Graduate Students Defending Theses or Dissertations)
Attachment K (Poster Notification of Thesis or Dissertation)

Teaching Assistant


TA Coordinator Duties
Mentoring Recitation Evaluation Form

Mentoring Laboratory Evaulation Form

Academic Integrity

Sexual Harrassment Prevention Policy

Sexual Misconduct and Other Types of Harassment and Discrimination
Religious Observances Policy
Disability Services

Travel Waiver form

Tutoring Center

Teaching Resources:

Reserving the vans -  Book Online
Reserving a classroom -  Book Online or come to room 204

Reserving a laptop -  Come to room 204

Reserving a projector - Come to room 204

Course Credit Related Documents

Petition to the Faculty
Proposal for Independent Study
Reconfiguring Tuition Credits -  Forms must be completed with an explanation of reason for reconfiguring credits. Visit department office, room 24

Registering for Courses:
You must register for courses to remain an active student. If you do not need course credits but are working on your defense, you must register for GRD998.

Continuity of Study
PHD students have 5 years from ABD to successfully defend.
MA and MS have 7 years from 1st course to successfully finish.

Financial Forms Travel Reimbursements - To reimburse Faculty, Staff, Students and university guests who incur out of pocket expenses while traveling on  University business. This form will automatically calculate the mileage reimbursement amount using the current calendar year mileage rate. - See Sarah or Julie
Travel Advances - See Sarah Hill or Julie Neri
Expense Voucher - form that is used to request reimbursement for an employee’s of out of pocket expenses related to University business. This form is not to be used to request reimbursement of travel expenses. - See Sarah or Julie

Earth Sciences

   •  EAR 510 - Paleolimnology
   •  EAR 544 - Quaternary Environmental and Climate Change
   •  EAR 590 - Independent Study
   •  EAR 601 - Hydrogeology
   •  EAR 602 - Numerical Methods in Geosciences
   •  EAR 603 - Geomorphology
   •  EAR 604 - Advanced Structural Geology
   •  EAR 605 - Global Change:Geologic Record
   •  EAR 606 - Reflection Seismology: Theory and Practice
   •  EAR 607 - Climate Change and Human Origins
   •  EAR 610 - Applications of GIS in the Earth Sciences
   •  EAR 611 - Introduction to Geophysical Methods
   •  EAR 612 - Water-­Energy Seminar
   •  EAR 617 - Geochemistry
   •  EAR 618 - Petrology
   •  EAR 619 - Environmental Aqueous Geochemistry
   •  EAR 620 - Contaminant Hydrogeology
   •  EAR 624 - Paleoecology
   •  EAR 629 - Topics in Paleobiology
   •  EAR 630 - Topics in Thermochronology & Tectonics
   •  EAR 631 - Plate Tectonics
   •  EAR 632 - Seafloor Spreading and Oceanic Lithosphere
   •  EAR 633 - Topics in Active Tectonics
   •  EAR 635 - Geophysics
   •  EAR 643 - Advanced Topics in Geomorphology
   •  EAR 644 - Thermochronology
   •  EAR 655 - Geochemical Patterns in the History of Earth and Life
   •  EAR 660 - Advanced Hydrologic Field Methods
   •  EAR 665 - Groundwater Modeling
   •  EAR 670 - Experience Credit
   •  EAR 678 - Isotope Geology
   •  EAR 683 - Departmental Colloquium
   •  EAR 860 - Advanced Seminars in Geology
   •  EAR 997 - Masters Thesis
   •  EAR 999 - Dissertation