About the Department of Geology Graduate Program

For Graduate school information visit University of Maryland Graduate School
Questions about our program should be directed to the Geology Graduate Program Coordinator at grad-sec@umd.edu
Questions about possible research projects should be directed to individual faculty (see http://www.geol.umd.edu/graduate/residentfaculty.php)

About the Graduate Program

The Department of Geology at the University of Maryland offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees to students who wish to conduct core or interdisciplinary geoscience research.

Our proximity to Washington, DC and national research centers, and our cross-campus collaborations enable our students to pursue studies in nearly any aspect of Earth science. Our students engage in all types of approaches to geoscience research, including field, lab, theoretical and computational studies.

On a full time basis, the M.S. normally requires two to three years of work, which includes coursework , a proposal defense, the completion of an M.S. research thesis, and an oral defense of the thesis.

On a full time basis, the Ph.D. commonly requires three to four years of work, if conducted after the completion of an M.S. program, or four to five years from the time of admission if pursued directly from the Bachelor level. The Ph.D. program normally includes course work, a qualifying examination and proposal defense, a dissertation, and an oral defense and examination of the dissertation.

Our students are required to engage in independent and original research under a mentoring program that promotes creative thinking. This is most commonly achieved via the collaboration between students and faculty in ongoing research programs.

Although students will choose an advisor within the Department of Geology, they may also wish to take advantage of research opportunities provided by collaboration with other departments on campus, such as Mathematics, particularly the Applied Mathematics and Scientific Computation Program (AMSC), Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, Physics, Geography, Chemistry, and ESSIC, as well as other institutions in the area including the Smithsonian Institution, United States Geological Survey, NASA, Carnegie Institution for Science, and National Institute of Standards and Technology. The Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) is a collaborative venture between the Departments of Geography, Geology and Atmospheric and Ocean Science on campus, and the Earth Sciences Directorate at NASA Goddard. This wealth of in-house and collaborative resources positions our graduate students with an unmatched spectrum of opportunities and gives them access to a strong multidisciplinary program of international stature.

Our graduates go on to distinguished post-doc, research and applied positions in academic, government and industrial settings. We are proud of our graduates, many of whom have been placed in prestigious post-doc positions, government laboratories and faculty positions, and we highlight their publications and presentations at national and international meetings.

Research Areas

The Department of Geology at the University of Maryland has focused its research efforts in the applications of geochemistry and geophysics to studies of the solid earth and earth surface processes. This focused approach enables participation in various threads of modern and future Earth System Science, as well as developing areas within the Department, which include planetary geology and forensics.Our particular strengths are as follows:

Geochemistry, which involves investigations of low- to high-temperature processes operating from Earth's surface to its core and within the Solar System;

Solid Earth Science, which is the study of the minerals, rocks, and structures that constitute Earth, and the tectonic and other processes by which they are formed and altered;

Surficial Processes and Environments, which involves the study of active and past fluxes (and reservoirs) of water, dissolved components, and sediment on Earth's surface and the interactions of these fluxes with the biosphere and atmosphere; and,

Geophysics, which includes investigations of Earth's interior structure and dynamics, as well as planetary physics.

These areas are not mutually exclusive, and students are encouraged to develop a program that suits their interests.

Applying to the Program

A baccalaureate degree in geology/geophysics/geochemistry/chemistry/physics/mathematics or a related science isrequired. TOEFL is required of all foreign students for whom English is not their native language.

TOEFL/IELTS/PTE Scores and Information

Information about the TOEFL/IELTS and PTE can be found at the Graduate School Website's English Language Proficiency Requirements Page and on the Scores page of the Grad School FAQ section.


While most students enter the program with a degree in earth sciences, some of our students enter the program with degrees in other fields, including chemistry, physics, math, etc. We require that students have a science background having taken the following courses or equivalent:

  • An introductory college-level Geology course:
    • GEOL 100/10 -Physical Geology and laboratory
    • GEOL 120/10 - Environmental Geology and laboratory
  • An introductory college-level Chemistry course;
    • CHEM 131/2 - Chemistry I - Fundamentals of General Chemistry and laboratory
    • CHEM 135/6 - Chemistry for Engineers and laboratory
  • Two semesters of introductory college-level Calculus;
    • MATH 140 - Calculus I
    • MATH 141 - Calculus II
  • An introductory college-level Physics course:
    • PHYS 161/74 - General Physics: Mechanics and Particle Dynamics and Laboratory
    • PHYS 171/4 - Introductory Physics: Mechanics and Relativity and Laboratory

Application Process

All students should apply electronically via the Graduate School webpage.

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines can be found at the Graduate School website.

Application Requirements

  • Statement of Purpose
    Please visit the link below regarding information requested for the statement of purpose. For best consideration, please develop your statement of purpose to include responses to the following four program-specific questions linked below. https://gradschool.umd.edu/sites/gradschool.umd.edu/files/uploads/admissionsforms/umdapplicationstatementgeol.pdf
  • Transcripts
    Transcripts for all college-level education are required at the application stage, however they do not need to be official copies. Upon admission to the Graduate School, a hard copy of the official transcripts/degree certificates coming directly from the applicant's respective institutions (in a sealed envelope), will be required for enrollment.
  • (3) Letters of Recommendation
    All letters of recommendation can be submitted via the online application system when you start the application process. If there are issues submitting the letter online, please contact the Geology Graduate Coordinator at grad-sec@umd.edu.
  • TOEFL/IELTS (International Students only)
    Information regarding English Proficiency exams, score requirements and country exemptions can be found on the Grad School website at the following link: https://gradschool.umd.edu/admissions/english-language-proficiency-requirements

General Information


Located just a few miles from Washington, D.C., the University of Maryland is centrally located near several top national research centers. As a result, many students in the Geology program collaborate with scientists at other institutions in the area including the Smithsonian Institution, United States Geological Survey, NASA, Carnegie Science's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism and Geophysical Lab, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Students also take advantage of research opportunities provided by collaboration with other departments on campus such as Astronomy, Atmospheric and Oceanic Science (AOSC), Physics, Geographical Sciences, and Chemistry and Biochemistry. Many of our faculty members and students are also associated with the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), a joint research center between the Earth Sciences Directorate at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and UMD's Departments of Geology, AOSC and Geographical Sciences.

The University and the Department

The University of Maryland, College Park, is a major public research university located on 1,250 acres along the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. high-tech corridor. The Department of Geology is part of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, which has ~1,500 undergraduate students, 900 graduate students, and a faculty of over 500. The Department was established in 1973 and its graduate program began in 1982. A strong sense of collegiality and cooperative spirit characterizes the Department. Faculty and student research focuses primarily on topics in Geochemistry, Solid Earth Science, Surficial Processes and Environments, and, Geophysics (above). For further details, see: https://www.umd.edu.

Student Group

The Department of Geology currently has approximately 35 graduate students, out of a campus-wide graduate student enrollment of ~ 9,800; Campus-wide undergraduate enrollment is ~25,000.

Financial Aid

With satisfactory progress, accepted students receive full financial support for two years (M.S.) or four years (Ph.D) with either a Teaching Assistantship or a Research Assistantship. Assistantships include a 12-month stipend, tuition remission and medical coverage.

Cost of Study

Assistantships do not cover the cost of mandatory fees that currently amount to approximately $820 per semester for full-time students.

Cost of Living

Currently there is no on-campus graduate housing at the UMD. However, there are two all-graduate student housing options in close proximity to campus. These are Graduate Hills and Graduate Gardens (http://www.graduatehills.com).

The Off-Campus Housing Services in the Stamp Student Union is one of the best places to search for housing in the College Park and surrounding areas. The office manages OCH101, a housing search database, and Roommate Finder (https://umd.och101.com/) that get you connected with other students.

Course Descriptions

Please visit the GradSchool Website at the link provided for course descriptions: https://academiccatalog.umd.edu/graduate/courses/geol/

Faculty Interests

We recommend that you directly contact the department faculty members whose research programs interest you. For faculty interests and contact information, visit the following link: https://www.geol.umd.edu/graduate/residentfaculty.php

Research Facilities

Research is concentrated in Geochemistry and Geophysics and supported by a variety of other research groups and facilities. The following groups and facilities comprise the environment available for research within the Department of Geology at University of Maryland, although collaboration with other groups and Departments as necessary is encouraged. To see a list of research groups, visit the following link: https://www.geol.umd.edu/facilities/.

Current Students

A current list of Geology M.S. and Ph.D. students can be found at the following link: https://www.geol.umd.edu/directory.php#gradstudents

Published Papers, Presentations, Awards and more!


For Graduate school information visit University of Maryland Graduate School.

Questions about our program should be directed to the Geology Graduate Program Coordinator via email at grad-sec@umd.edu or by phone at (301) 405-4065.

Questions about possible research projects should be directed to individual faculty (see http://www.geol.umd.edu/graduate/residentfaculty.php)