Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences

Graduate Studies in Earth Sciences

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Department Faculty

Faculty members are involved with research projects funded by major government agencies including the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and Department of Defense. Currently, field projects are addressing a variety of important geological questions. The diverse interests of the faculty and their commitment to both field- and laboratory-based studies enable graduate students to get broad training at SMU.

The Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in Dedman College at SMU has an internationally distinguished faculty active in both field- and laboratory-based studies. They are joined by a dynamic group of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who benefit both from the Department's excellent laboratory and computational facilities as well as from the individual attention possible in a private university with a low student-to-faculty ratio. Our Dallas location offers all of the cultural benefits of a major metropolis at a much lower cost of living and with less congestion than in most cities of comparable size. Dallas' mild climate allows for outdoor activities year-round.

Programs of Study

The Department of Earth Sciences offers graduate programs leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in geology and geophysics with specialization in the areas of seismology, geothermal studies, isotope geology, low-temperature geochemistry, sedimentology, paleosols, tectonics, paleoclimate and vertebrate paleontology.

Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

The Ph.D. degree requires 48 hours of credit (12 of which are dissertation research) with 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.

Degree of Master of Science

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 project related to a facet of applied geophysics.

Research Facilities

The Department of Earth Sciences is well equipped to support graduate-level research. The facilities enable graduate students to gain practical experience in state-of-the-art data acquisition. These include mass spectrometers, electron microprobe, variable pressure scanning electron microscope, hydrothermal apparatus, geophysical imaging lab, palynology lab, wet chemical lab, X-ray diffraction and fluorescence equipment, and the Shuler Museum of Paleontology within Heroy Hall, the Lajitas (TX) seismic array, and access to the Fort Burgwin Research Center operated by the University.

Financial Aid

Most graduate students in residence receive financial aid. This includes all tuition and fees as well as a living stipend. Support may take the form of research assistantships, endowed scholarships, or teaching assistantships.

Admission Requirements

Completed applications for admission and financial aid should be received before February 15. Applications filed later than this date will be considered for financial aid if funds are available. Admission and financial aid awards are based on merit. The minimum standards for admission are an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale, a GPA of 3.25 in the major. Majors may be in mathematics or other field of science besides geology. Results from a recent Graduate Record Exam (GRE) are needed. International students applying from countries where English is not a native language are required to provide scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Deadline for Admission

Priority deadline for fall admission is January 15.

Final deadline for fall admission is May 1.

Department Assistantships

All applications to be considered for department assistantships must be completed by the priority deadline of
January 15.  

Note: Applications received after January 15 will be considered for any remaining funds and openings.