For Graduate school information visit University of Maryland Graduate School
Questions about our program should be directed to the Geology Graduate Program Coordinator at
Questions about possible research projects should be directed to individual faculty (see

About the Graduate Program

The Department of Geology offers programs leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. On a full time basis, the M.S. normally requires two to three years of work, which includes courses, 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. Geology is concerned with the Earth, its origin and evolution and the origin of life, and the processes by which Earth's atmosphere, surface and interior have been and continue to be modified. To pursue these topics we have developed research strengths in four themes:

  • Geochemistry, which involves investigations of low- to high-temperature processes operating from Earth’s surface to it’s 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. Developing areas within the Department include planetary geology and forensics.

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, and Chemistry, as well as other institutions in the area including the Smithsonian Institution, United States Geological Survey, NASA, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Geophysical Lab and National Institute of Standards and Technology. The Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center 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 multi-disciplinary program of international stature.

Our current student demographics are diverse, with an approximate 50:50 mix of male and female students of which 10-20% are minority students. Approximately 60% of our graduate students are Ph.D. candidates (the remaining are M.S. students), and some of the M.S. students will petition to become Ph.D. candidates following the successful completion of their M.S. degree program. Other M.S. candidates are focused solely on the M.S. degree, which is the commonly held degree for practicing professionals in government and industry.

Our graduate students benefit from the opportunities of working within an advanced graduate program. Our graduates go on to distinguished post-doc, research and applied positions in academic, government and industrial settings. We proudly acknowledge having placed our students into prestigious post-doc positions and government laboratories and we highlight their publications and presentations at national and international meetings.

Research Facilities

The Department maintains a suite of state-of-the-art facilities and equipment for research, including:

  • three solid source mass spectrometers
  • six gas source mass spectrometers, with inlet devices for inorganic and organic isotope analyses
  • single and multicollector inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometers (ICP-MS)
  • three UV lasers for in situ analyses with gas-source and plasma mass spectrometer
  • two chemical clean labs, with ion chromatographic facilities
  • JEOL 8900 “superprobe” with an Oxford instrument mini-cathodoluminescence detector
  • Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopes
  • color image analysis system
  • fluid inclusion stage
  • high temperature and high pressure equipment for dry or hydrothermal experiments
  • diamond anvil cell facilities, including laser heating and external heating
  • two triaxial deformation apparatii with flow through capacity and acoustic emission recording
  • flame and graphite furnace atomic absorption equipment, spectrophotometers
  • HPLC with fluorescence detector
  • UV lamps and monochronometer for photochemistry
  • anoxic chamber
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) computational laboratory
  • electromagnetic and acoustic doppler velocity meters
  • laboratory and field hydrogeology equipment, campus drill rig
  • microstructures and fabrics analysis instruments
  • research microscopes with reflectance capabilities
  • rock preparation and mineral separation laboratories
  • computer network with direct access to supercomputer facilities
  • nitrogen Permeameter 400, helium Porosimeter 300, Solaris Impedance Meters

General Information

The College Park campus of the University of Maryland is located in the town of College Park, a northeastern suburb of Washington D.C. A wealth of cultural and educational activities is located in the metropolitan area. The Metro (Washington area subway) connects the area with downtown D.C. 

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 begun 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:

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
Teaching Assistantships, Research Assistantships and Graduate School Fellowships, with 12-month stipends ranging between approximately $23,300 and $28,860, including tuition remission and medical coverage, are available to qualified applicants. 

Cost of Study
Assistantships do not cover the cost of mandatory fees that currently amount to approximately $600 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 (

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 ( that get you connected with other students. 

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

Application Form - Deadlines
All students should apply electronically via the Graduate School webpage.

Application deadlines can be found at the graduate school website.

Additional information about the Department of Geology can be obtained at:

General information about the University of Maryland Graduate Program, including on-line application, can be obtained at:

Correspondence and Information
Geology Graduate Program
Department of Geology
University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland 20742, USA

Phone: (301) 405-4065