Geological Sciences and Engineering

All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions. —Leonardo da Vinci

Geological Engineering—MS, PhD

Fast Facts

  • Research funding averages nearly $3 million per year.
  • The nation's only geoscience/engineering master's program partnered with the US Peace Corps offering a Peace Corps Master's International program in Natural Hazard Mitigation.
  • We offer a rare international perspective on geoscience through our INVOGE (International Geological Master's in Volcanology & Geotechniques) program, which offers broad-based training in volcanology and geotechniques as well as a year spent studying abroad in France or Italy.

Learn more about the Geological Engineering programs.

Graduate Programs in Geological Engineering

Departmental research activities span from fundamental and precise laboratory studies of rocks and minerals to field studies in remote and rugged locations to high-performance computing of climate and natural hazards using remotely sensed data. Faculty members are involved in domestic and international field studies including:

  • Characterizing the hydrology of melting glaciers in Alaska, Svalbard, and Nepal
  • Groundwater in Ecuador
  • Landslide and Flood hazards in El Salvador
  • Field performance of air sparging for removing volatile organic chemicals from ground water
  • Development of instrumentation for measuring atmospheric trace gases
  • Liquefaction susceptibility evaluation at local and regional scales using in-situ measurements and remote sensing observations

Studies in geological engineering focus on Earth processes. Students will explore both practices for safely adapting geologic features for human use and considerations for adapting human activities for the preservation of the Earth. The application of geophysics and/or remote sensing technologies is vital for the majority of geological engineering studies within the department. For example, students may develop new methods of employing satellite observations and ground-based geophysics to map targets for groundwater, whether for resource development or for understanding groundwater behavior; or they may calibrate satellite-based observations to physical properties on the ground surface to predict the likelihood of surface failure during an earthquake, e.g., by liquefaction.

Geological engineering research and course work focuses on enhancing natural resource development and protection and mitigation of natural hazards. Although the research and educational activities are closely linked with scientific studies of earth processes, the engineering aspects will focus more on practical purposes.

Learn more about the Geological Engineering programs.

Master's Degree: Thesis Option

This option requires a research thesis prepared under the supervision of the advisor.  The thesis describes a research investigation and its results. The scope of the research topic for the thesis should be defined in such a way that a full-time student could complete the requirements for a master’s degree in twelve months or three semesters following the completion of course work by regularly scheduling graduate research credits. 

The minimum requirements are as follows:

Course work (minimum)20 credits
Thesis research6–10 credits
Total (minimum)30 credits
Distribution of course work credit 
5000–6000 series (minimum)12 credits
3000–4000 level (maximum)12 credits

 

Programs may have stricter requirements and may require more than the minimum numbers of credits listed here.

Master's Degree: Report Option

This option requires a report describing the results of an independent study project. The scope of the research topic should be defined in such a way that a full-time student could complete the requirements for a master’s degree in twelve months or three semesters following the completion of course work by regularly scheduling graduate research credits. 

Of the minimum total of 30 credits, at least 24 must be earned in course work other than the project:

Course work24 credits
Report2–6 credits
Total (minimum)30 credits
Distribution of course work credit 
5000–6000 series (minimum)12 credits
3000–4000 level (maximum)12 credits

 

Programs may have stricter requirements and may require more than the minimum numbers of credits listed here.

PhD Requirements

To complete a doctoral degree, students must complete the following milestones:

  • Complete all course work and research credits (see credit requirements below)
  • Pass Qualifying Examination
  • Pass Research Proposal Examination
  • Prepare and Submit Approved Dissertation
  • Pass Final Oral Defense

The minimum credit requirements are as follows:

Total Credit Requirements 
MS–PhD (minimum)30 credits
BS–PhD (minimum)60 credits

 

Individual programs may have higher standards and students are expected to know their program's requirements. See the Doctor of Philosophy Requirements website for more information about PhD milestones and related timelines.