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Graduate Studies at Geosciences

The Department of Geosciences, together with its affiliated interdepartmental programs and institutes, serves as the central focus for the earth, atmospheric, oceanographic and environmental sciences at Princeton.  As such, the department encompasses a rich diversity of scientific expertise and initiatives that ranges from Geology and Geophysics, to Environmental Geosciences (including oceanography) and to Climate, today, in the past, and in the future.  Graduate education within the department is focused on research.  Students are required to participate in research activities from the beginning and to develop an independent research program as soon as possible.  Graduate students benefit from close collaboration with faculty members and postdocs, and from access to shared facilities.  Course work, seminars and field trips are designed to convey a comprehension of modern earth sciences and to build a strong background in at least one of the supporting physical sciences.

The exciting research programs aim to characterize the present day structure and physics of the earth’s interior, the tectonic and geodynamic processes responsible for generating the architecture and composition of the mantle and crust, and the interaction between the solid earth, biology, and the ocean and atmosphere systems through earth history.  The department hosts a number of state-of-the-art analytical centers including spectroscopic and mass spectrometric facilities for sample-based inquiry. Geoscientists capitalize on Princeton’s supercomputing facilities by pushing the limits of modern computation in the increasingly data-driven natural sciences.  The Biogeochemistry group conducts laboratory, field and computational research on all aspects of the physics and chemistry of Earth’s surface environments.  The group offers courses on chemical and biological oceanography, paleoceanography, the carbon cycle and paleoclimatology.  The Climate group is closely affiliated with the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS), a collaboration between Princeton University and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. AOS offers graduate study leading to a Ph.D. degree in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. Its activities, which complement those of the Geosciences Dept., concern mainly the climate of today, and future global climate changes associated with global warming and rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.  AOS offers a number of courses that may be of interest to Geosciences students.  Most of those courses are taught in Guyot Hall, but research activities are located at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory on Forrestal Campus where students benefit from access to an outstanding group of research scientist, and to GFDL's supercomputing resources.

The areas of research interests include structural geology, tectonics and geophysics, geochemistry, petrology, mineral physics, geochemistry, biogeochemistry, environmental geology, biological oceanography, climate, global warming, paleoclimate, paleoceanography and paleontology.  In addition the Department has associated programs in environmental policy with The Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP), environmental science in collaboration with the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) and The Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling project (SOCCOM), materials science in collaboration with The Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM), computer and application sciences in collaboration with the Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering (PICSciE), and in ocean science and marine biology (shared with The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS).

Graduate education within the department focuses on research, and on the development of a strong sense for the interdisciplinary nature of the geosciences. As a consequence, Princeton has been extraordinarily successful in mentoring students to move on to tenure-track positions in academia as well as leading research positions in industry or government laboratories.  The department offers only a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program, for which both beginning and advanced students may apply.  The average time to graduation is five years.

Important Information

Deadline for all Applications: December 31st

Application Deadlines and Fees
By December 1st

Fee: $90

After December 1st and BEFORE December 31st
Fee: $90

For students who may find the application fee a burden, we draw your attention to the fee waivers offered by the Graduate School, see here. For more information, please visit the Graduate School Website

To download the various graduate student forms, please go to the
Graduate School Forms page.

Geosciences Graduate Studies brochure (pdf file)

Graduate Student Links:


Graduate Studies Work Committee: Jeroen Tromp (Director),
John Higgins, Stephan Fueglistaler, George Philander and Blair Schoene.

Other Department Contacts: Bess Ward, Department Chair; Nora Zelizer, Department Manager; Sheryl Robas, Graduate Coordinator