Geology, Geophysics, and Geological Engineering—MS, PhD

Globalize Your Studies

Graduate studies in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences focus on understanding and safely managing the Earth and its resources for the future, with degrees leading to careers in industry, government, nonprofit organizations, and academia.

Our curriculum emphasizes the sociocultural facets, or social geology, inherent specifically in hazards-related work and broadly in the fields of geological sciences and engineering.

Our graduate program is flexible, accommodating students’ individual goals and affording specialization for myriad careers in the earth sciences, geophysics, and geological engineering.

Degrees Offered

Peruse the degree options to find the program that fits your career goals and interests.

Geology—MS, PhD

Students earning MS or PhD degrees in Geology may choose from diverse career opportunities in disciplines ranging from economic mineralogy, to volcanology and atmospheric studies, to climate change. Geology students are curious about the Earth and how it operates, and their studies often incorporate a significant sociological component, i.e., social geology. For example, the majority of students specializing in volcanology take an interest in not only the geology of volcanoes, but also the hazard awareness and risk mitigation critical to communities affected by volcanic eruptions. Geologic studies rely on remote sensing data collected via satellites and geophysical surveys; therefore, geology students often choose to integrate remote sensing techniques into their studies.

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Geological Engineering—MS, PhD

Studies in geological engineering focus on Earth processes. You 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.

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Geophysics—MS, PhD

The geophysics program is highly quantitative, requiring a firm background in mathematics and physics. You will study the earth through physical measurements, employing theory, laboratory and/or field experimentation, and modeling. Specialties that complement studies in geophysics include reflection seismology, which is primarily used for oil and gas exploration; electrical methods, which aid in groundwater evaluation; magnetic studies, including the use of paleomagnetics to understand the early Earth; and glacial and volcano seismology, focusing on the study of earthquakes and icequakes.

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Degree Options

Geology—MS and Geological Engineering—MS offer thesis, report, and coursework options and Geophysics—MS offers thesis and report options.

International, Interdisciplinary Research Opportunities

The majority of our graduate students are involved in international field-oriented research, but some focus on laboratory or computer studies. The department’s research activities cross disciplinary and national borders, spanning the following areas:

  • Development of complex computational models of earth systems
  • Laboratory experiments analyzing earth material phenomena
  • Analysis of remote-sensing data of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere
  • Properties of the Earth’s deep interior and its ancient past
  • Field measurements of volcanologic, hydrologic, and atmospheric systems
  • Seismic imaging of underground oil and gas reservoirs and their properties

Research funding averages nearly $3 million per year for the department. Field research is conducted domestically in Alaska and Yellowstone, as well as in the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula and Lake Superior watershed. Our international efforts bring faculty and student researchers to locations across North and South America, as well as to Australia and Southeast Asia.

World-Class Facilities

Our department features world-class computer and analytical laboratory facilities. Specialized laboratories include the Laboratory for Atmospheric Remote Sensing, the Subsurface Visualization Laboratory, the Seismology and Petrophysics Laboratory, the Earthquake Seismology Laboratory, the Hydrogeology Laboratory, and the Earth Magnetism Laboratory.