Geological Sciences Ph.D. (Ithaca)
Field of Study
The geological science program is designed to give students broad training in the basic sciences as well as field, theoretical, and practical experience through research in their specialty. The program has particular strengths in geophysics, geochemistry and petrology, structural geology, sedimentology, marine ecology, and energy resources. However, the exceptional flexibility of Cornell's graduate program provides ample opportunity for students to work across disciplinary areas. For example, arrangements exist for study of marine ecology, water resources, and various branches of applied geological science. Faculty members in other fields or divisions offer interdisciplinary courses including planetology and extraterrestrial geology, paleobotany, ecology and systematics, biogeochemistry, limnology, soil genesis, soil mineralogy, soil and rock mechanics, remote sensing, environmental fluid mechanics and hydrology, fluid dynamics, elasticity, geotechnical and earthquake engineering, regional planning, hydraulics and hydrology, and materials science and engineering.
At least one minor subject outside the field is required for the doctoral degree. Before the end of their third semester in residence, all students must take a qualifying examination. This exam, an addition to those required by the Graduate School, determines the candidate's fitness for undertaking advanced studies and enables the Special Committee to plan programs that will make the student familiar with the requisite knowledge in the chosen areas.
Research and study opportunities:
Research programs are being conducted by the field in such diverse areas as fluid cycling in subduction zones; space-based geodetic studies of faults, volcanoes, and anthropogenic deformation; interaction of tectonics, topography, and climate in major mountain systems; investigation of igneous rocks in arc systems; tectonics, seismology, sedimentation, and geomorphology of the central Andes; planetary science, comparative planetology and solar system exploration; seismic reflection profiling of the deep crust and upper mantle; mechanics and properties of subduction zone megathrusts and other large faults; induced earthquakes; using seismic signals of earth noise to understand atmospheric and solid-earth phenomena; development and application of Earth System models; response of marine ecosystems to climate variability and change; surface responses to extreme precipitation; dynamics and mechanics of the lithosphere and asthenosphere; application of geophysical techniques to environmental and archaeological problems; marine ecological and paleontological studies; sedimentology and diagenesis of mudstones; dynamics of marine ecosystems and organisms from plankton to whales using remote sensing and other tools; volcanic hazard assessment; biogeochemistry, soil development, and dynamics in young volcanic terrains; geochemistry and geophysics of oceanic islands, mid-ocean ridges and island arcs; and remote sensing of seismic and volcanic deformation of the crust.
The field maintains working agreements with institutions worldwide to facilitate research projects in those areas or to work on materials especially accessible there. Current and recent graduate students have carried out field investigations in such diverse places as Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, Honduras, Chile, Argentina, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Monterey Bay (California), Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, and Tibet. The Paleontological Research Institution, located near the campus, has world-renowned facilities and collections available to students interested in paleontology.
Contact InformationWebsite: http://www.eas.cornell.edu
Phone: 607 255-5466
2124 Snee Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
Concentrations by Subject
- economic geology
- engineering geology
- environmental geophysics
- general geology
- geochemistry and isotope geology
- marine geology (minor)
- ocean science and technology
- petroleum geology
- planetary geology
- Precambrian geology
- Quaternary geology
- rock mechanics
- structural geology
Visit the Graduate School's Tuition Rates page.
Application Requirements and Deadlines
Fall, Jan. 1; Spring, check with field
- All Graduate School Requirements
- including the TOEFL Exam or IELTS Academic Exam for non-native English applicants
- three recommendations
Students who are self-motivated and self-directed with strong quantitative backgrounds and a keen interest in and curiosity about the Earth are encouraged to apply. While helpful, prior study of geology is not a requirement for admission; applications from students with undergraduate degrees in other fields are welcome.
Applicants are required to submit an online application, a statement of purpose, an official transcript from each college or university attended, and three letters of recommendation. Applicants whose native language is not English must also submit TOEFL or IELTS Academic scores. Please note: GRE scores are not required.
A candidate for a doctoral degree in Geological Sciences is expected to demonstrate mastery of knowledge in a sub-discipline within the broader domain of earth sciences and to synthesize and create new knowledge, making an original and substantial contribution to the sub-discipline in a timely fashion.
- Make an original and substantial contribution to one of the sub-disciplines within earth sciences
Think originally and independently to develop concepts and/or methodologies
Identify new research opportunities within their field
- Demonstrate advanced research skills
Synthesize existing knowledge, identifying and accessing appropriate resources and other sources of relevant information, and critically analyze and evaluate their own findings and those of others
Master application of existing appropriate research methodologies, techniques, and technical skills
Utilize both qualitative and quantitative approaches
Communicate in a style appropriate to the discipline
- Demonstrate commitment to advancing the values of scholarship
Keep abreast of current advances within their sub-discipline of earth science and related areas
Show commitment to personal professional development through engagement in professional societies, publication, and other knowledge transfer modes
Show commitment to creating an environment that supports learning—through teaching, collaborative inquiry, mentoring, organization of community learning experiences, or demonstration
- Demonstrate professional skills
Advance ethical standards in the practice of earth sciences
Listen, give, and receive feedback effectively