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Geological Sciences

UMD Graduate School

Program Overview

UMD Geological Sciences offers programs leading to a MS or PhD within the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota. Programs are tailored to the area of the student's specialization, in consultation with a faculty advisor. We strive for research that balances field, laboratory, and theoretical studies.

Admission and Application Requirements

All applicants to the program must:

  • Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • Submit three letters of recommendation, with at least two letters coming from faculty
  • International students must have minimum TOEFL scores 80 Internet (iBT)

Degree Requirements

The Master of Science degree is a two-year program that offers degrees under Plan A (thesis) and Plan B (non-thesis) courses of study. Courses are selected with approval of the student’s adviser and the director of graduate studies. All courses must be at the 4000, 5000, or 8000 levels.

For Plan A, a candidacy exam that involves oral defense of written thesis research proposal during the second semester of residency is required. Plan A requires 31 credits, including 14 course credits in the major, 6 course credits in a minor or related field, a 1 credit course (Geol 8200), and 10 thesis credits (8777).

For Plan B, a written candidacy exam during the second semester is required. Plan B requires 31 credits in approved courses, including three Plan B papers.

A vast majority of students follow Plan A.

Deadlines and Dates

The program accepts new students for the fall semester. The priority application deadline is January 5.

Financial Aid

Many of our graduate students have financial support in the form of teaching or research assistantships. Students with TA or RA support receive a stipend comparable to those at many universities—a full-tuition scholarship and a health insurance program. Priority for financial support is given to those applications received by January 5. Once in residence, some support for thesis research and travel to meetings to present the results of research is available.

Areas of Specialization

Our faculty members offer exceptional learning and research opportunities in:

  • Geology
  • Economic geology
  • Environmental geology and paleoclimatology
  • Geochemistry
  • Geophysics
  • Glacial geology and geomorphology
  • Hydrogeology
  • Limnology
  • Planetary geology
  • Sedimentology
  • Tectonics

Contact Information:

Department of Geological Sciences, University of Minnesota Duluth, 229 Heller Hall, 1114 Kirby Drive, Duluth, MN 55812 (218.726.7239; fax 218.726.8275;;

Director of Graduate Studies: Nigel Wattrus,, 218.726.7154

Assistant to the Director of Graduate Studies: Laura Chapin,, 218.726.8385

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