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Geology Graduate School

The Department of Geological Sciences at SMU can award fellowships, competitive research and teaching assistantships to all students admitted to the department for graduate study. We invite applications from students with baccalaureate degrees in geology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, or engineering. The department offers doctoral and master's degrees in a diverse range of programs that are international in scope including:

Aqueous geochemistry: kinetics of fluid-rock interactions; surface chemistry of minerals; solubilities of hydrothermal minerals.

Geothermal studies: crustal evolution; structure/tectonics; paleogeography; computed tomography of vertebrate fossils; Cretaceous geology of the eastern Mediterranean; isotope paleontology; paleoecology.

Stable isotope geochemistry: history of atmospheric carbon dioxide; paleoclimates, paleosols, urban atmospheric chemistry, carbon cycle.

Paleontology: biostratigraphy, systematics, taphonomy, and paleoecology of terrestrial ecosystems, especially the vertebrate and plant components of the Cretaceous and Tertiary. Field areas include Texas, Arizona, China, Mongolia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guyana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Pakistan, Israel, and Alaska.

Seismology: core-mantle seismic properties; theoretical seismology; seismic sources; regional seismic wave propagation and crust-upper mantle structure; thermal constraints on plate tectonics/sedimentary basins; low frequency acoustic wave propagation.

The department possesses excellent laboratory, seismic array, and computational facilities with outstanding technical support.

Degree of Master of Science (M.S.)

The M.S. degree requires 30 hours of credit (six hours of which must be the thesis courses 6398, 6399), satisfactory defense of a research proposition, and the preparation and public defense of an acceptable thesis.

Degree of Master of Science in Applied Geophysics

The M.S. in applied geophysics degree is specifically developed for students interested in a career in petroleum exploration. This degree plan requires a minimum of 33 hours of credit and satisfactory completion and public defense of a research projects related to a facet of applied geophysics.

Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

The Ph.D. degree required a minimum of two academic years of residency as a graduate student on campus or at a research facility approved by the Department faculty; satisfactory defense of two original research propositions; and the preparation and public defense of a dissertation that is a significant original contribution to the advancement of science. Proficiency in a foreign language may be required by the advisory committee.


The Graduate School would like completed applications for admission and financial aid to be received before February 1st. However, later applications are considered in Geological Sciences. In order to receive maximum consideration for financial aid the closer one completes the process to February 1st the better. The minimum standards to be considered for admission are an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale and a GPA of 3.25 in the major. Results from a recent Graduate Record Exam (GRE) are needed.

International students applying from countries where English is not the native language are required to provide scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Learn more about the programs or apply now.