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PhD in Geosciences

Idaho State University is dedicated to cutting-edge research that generates peer-reviewed publications and funding for Ph.D. students. Research is encouraged in many different disciplines within the geosciences in which faculty have expertise.

There are a variety of funded graduate projects currently in progress that focus on earth processes, geologic histories, and novel methods of data analysis. Many projects are based in Idaho, others in the surrounding Northern Rockies, and still others in Alaska and Mexico.

Your program of study will be determined after consulting with advisors. This normally requires at least four years of full-time study beyond the master’s degree and an average grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained.

Please contact Geosciences Graduate Program Director Glenn Thackray for more information
Department of Geosciences Graduate Student Handbook
Geosciences Graduate Catalog 


To Be Admitted

You must have a bachelor degree or higher in geosciences or a closely related field (environmental science, physics, engineering, chemistry, biology, etc.).  Your degree was earned from a college or university regionally accredited in the United States or its equivalent from a school in another country. 

Your program of study will be determined after consulting with your lead advisor, the department chair or the department's graduate advising committee. You may be required to complete any missing courses required for the B.S. degree in Geosciences at ISU.

If you are interested in a Research or Graduate Assistantship please submit your application by January 15th.  For more in-depth descriptions regarding assistantships please visit the graduate school.

To be considered for scholarships, students must submit their application, transcript and test scores by February 15th (Fall Entry) or November 1st (Spring Entry).

Application Requirements

  • Online Application Form (you will be required to create an account)

  • Fee to apply ($60 non-refundable)

  • GRE scores are not required.

  • Your Transcripts

  • A Letter of intent

  • Statement of goals (Motivation for graduate school and your long term career goals)

  • Three (3) letters of recommendation

If you are entering the program with a masters degree you may receive credit for up to 30 credits toward the doctorate, split between dissertation and coursework and department chair's approval. Classes and seminars may be taken at, or in collaboration with Boise State and/or the University of Idaho.

Credit Requirements

The doctoral degree requires completion of at least 84 graduate credits. A minimum of 32 credits must be doctoral dissertation credits (GEOL 8850). Another 35 credits must come from coursework at the graduate level, 2 to 4 of which must be a graduate seminar. Of the total 84 credits, at least 40 must be taken from the ISU Department of Geosciences. 

  • 30 cr. masters level credits can be split between dissertation and coursework

  • 18 cr. at the graduate level

  • 32-35 cr. of dissertation (GEOL 8850)

  • 2-4 cr. of graduate seminars

Total credits minimum of 84. 

(GEOL 6649 Prethesis credits are not included in the credits counted toward the degree)

For more information on this programs course requirements, go to Geosciences Graduate Catalog 

Ph.D Steps to Graduation

  1. A Doctoral Committee of at least three members should be formed immediately.  Your course of study will be determined by consulting with your committee members.

  2. Ph.D. Planned Program of Study - should be finalized as soon as possible.

  3. Ph.D. Advisory Committee formed - 3 total members; 2 from parent department and 1 from relevant department

  4. Written Qualifying Examination - administered by the Ph.D. Advisory Committee and the end of the 3rd semester

  5. Report on Outcome of Qualifying Exam - Student is admitted to candidacy upon satisfactory completion of this report.

  6. Ph.D. Dissertation Committee formed - 5 total members; Major advisor and 2 other from parent department, one from a relevant department, and one graduate faculty representative (GFR) 

  7. Oral Dissertation Proposal Defense - usually in the 4th semester, student presents and defends their Ph.D. research proposal to this committee.

  8. Final Program of Study - submit a final program of study for approval.

  9. Public Presentation of Dissertation and satisfactory oral defense to the Dissertation Committee.