About Our PCMI Program

Thank you for your interest in our PCMI program. 

Currently there are 12 students in the PCMI Natural Hazard Mitigation program. We usually receive 2-4 students each year. We have no need for a quota, as the enrollment tends to match about our graduation rate. Usually about one student out of each cohort starts in the spring semester (January) but most start in the fall (August/September). Michigan Tech has been for the past few years the largest program in the country in terms of number of PCMI students and number of PCMI programs. The Natural Hazards Mitigation program is still the only geologically oriented PCMI program in the country, has been in existence here since 2004 (http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/getting-masters-social-geology), and is typically the 2nd or 3rd largest PCMI program on campus.

The best information about the program is offered, I think, by those who have gone through it, such as Hans Lechner, who is our student contact about the program. He can give you a first-hand account (he served in El Salvador and Jamaica) and put you in contact with other students actively serving in the PC or who have recently returned. Our graduate program assistant, Brittany Buschell, might have other standard graduate application information for you. Additional insightful information will come from our current and graduated students. Most of our "geohaz" students have web pages and/or blogs and we have posted the theses/reports for those who have graduated. A list of these students and the available works are listed at: http://www.geo.mtu.edu/rs4hazards/index_files/people.htm.

Our students typically require 3.5-4 years to complete this program. They begin with 2 semesters at Michigan Tech, completing all the necessary coursework, and then spend at least 2 years and 3 months in PC training and service before returning to finish work on their theses/reports. Because PC training/service start times vary by country, our program accommodates students that start in January (Spring semester start) as well as in August (Fall semester start). 

What follows is some additional information about our department and the application process.

Our department offers MS and PhD degrees in geology, geological engineering, mining engineering and geophysics. In addition to the traditional MS degree, we also offer these degrees through the Peace Corps program; specific information regarding this can be found here. We also participate in nondepartmental PhD programs: atmospheric sciences, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, sensing and signal processing, and computational science and engineering. Currently, our department's most active research thrusts are in the areas of volcanology, geophysics, remote sensing, hydrogeology and petroleum/basin analysis. However, our faculty have broad research experience, and students are encouraged to pursue innovative or unique research and multi-disciplinary projects that take advantage of the faculty's expertise.

To be considered for our graduate programs, you must submit the following materials to the graduate school at Michigan Tech:

  • a completed application form
  • a written statement of purpose
  • verbal/quantitative/analytical Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores (we do not have a strict minimum score)
  • Testing of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores when English is not spoken as a native language
  • official transcripts of your undergraduate/graduate courses
  • three letters of recommendation (minimum) from faculty or other professionals who are familiar with your abilities and qualifications.

The application form also acts as an application for funding. There is no application deadline for admission, but to be considered for financial support for the upcoming academic year, you should submit your completed application packet by February 1. If applying for spring admission, please submit your application by October 1. More information about how to apply can be found on the graduate school web site: http://www.mtu.edu/gradschool/admissions/apply/

Applicants are notified by electronic mail when their application is complete and has started the review process. When an incomplete application arrives, the applicant is notified of the deficiencies (typically test scores and letters of reference) by electronic mail. Complete applications are reviewed by a committee representing the department's graduate programs. The review process takes approximately 1-2 months (after receipt of the complete application package. Once an application is complete and in review, no information on its status will be available until after the final decision is reached.

Our web page (http://www.mtu.edu/geo/) contains detailed information on departmental programs, faculty, research facilities, and a link to the graduate school application web page. To apply, download the application materials from the web site or submit your application online (everything but letters of recommendation, transcripts, and official test scores).

The uniqueness and exciting aspects of the Natural Hazards Mitigation PCMI program attracts a lot of interest from prospective students. Coupling research and education in natural hazards with service in the U.S. Peace Corps offers intellectual and personal development opportunities that stretch our imaginations. We are excited to offer these opportunities and enjoy sharing our experiences with interested students. Nevertheless, student interest is too high for us to offer visit opportunities to every inquiry. Prior to starting or completing the application process, which is free, we welcome interested students to arrange for a face-to-face visit with the program coordinator (John Gierke, jsgierke@mtu.edu) and the Natural Hazards PCMI program recruiter (Hans Lechner, hnlechne@mtu.edu ). Alternatively, we would welcome interacting digitally, either by online conferencing (e.g., Skype) or phone or e-mail.

Students that have completed the application process and have been accepted into the program are welcome, prior to deciding about enrolling in the program, to visit the department and spend a full day or more meeting with faculty and students (especially students who have served in the Peace Corps) and see our facilities. We would be happy to assist those students with the visit arrangements. If you have not done so already, we strongly encourage you to meet with a Peace Corps recruiter (http://www.peacecorps.gov/meet/offices/) to discuss volunteering for and serving in the U.S. Peace Corps prior to visiting and applying.

Thank you for your interest. I hope the information provided in the links above prompts more interest and questions from you. We look forward to receiving and reviewing your application.