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Doctor of Philosophy in Geosciences

ISU is dedicated to cutting-edge research that generates peer-reviewed publications and funding for Ph.D. students.

Research can be conducted in any field of the geosciences in which ISU faculty have expertise.

A variety of funded graduate projects are 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 course of study will be determined after consulting with advisors. The program normally requires at least four years of full-time study beyond the master’s degree.

An average grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained.

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How to Apply

You must have a baccalaureate degree or higher in geosciences or a closely related field (environmental science, physics, engineering, chemistry, biology, etc.).  Your degree is 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.

A Graduate School Application submitted on line requires the following:

  • Online Application
  • Fee to apply ($60 non-refundable)
  • GRE scores (50th percentile or above in both verbal and quantitative categories). Students for whom English is a second language who do not meet the minimum verbal GRE score must meet the Graduate School minimal TOEFL score.
  • Transcripts
  • A statement of goals (what is your motivation for graduate school and long term career goals).
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation

If you are interested in a Teaching or Research Assistantship please submit by January 15th. Applications submitted after January 15, but before published Graduate School deadlines (see below) will be considered.

  • Fall semester enrollment application deadline is April 1st.
  • Spring semester enrollment application deadline is November 1st.
  • Summer session enrollment application deadline is April 1st.

30 credits of MS program, plus 18 credits of additional course work at Ph.D. level, plus 1-4 credits of graduate seminar, plus 32-35 credits of dissertation  = Total credits minimum of 84. 

The doctoral degree requires completion of at least 84 graduate credits. At least 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. 

Students entering the program with a masters degree may receive credit for up to 30 credits toward the doctorate, split between dissertation and coursework as appropriate, subject to the department chair's approval.

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

Classes and seminars may be taken at, or in collaboration with, Boise State University and/or the University of Idaho.

Students may be required to complete any missing course material that is required for the B.S. degree in geosciences at Idaho State University.

Please download the latest and greatest version of the "ISU Department of Geosciences Graduate Handbook"
for more in-depth descriptions of class and graduation requirements.

Graduate Handbook Geosciences


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.

Graduate Program Inquiry

If you are interested and would like more information about the program please fill out this form.

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