Geological Sciences

2014-15 Tuition

Research degree: $29,500; professional degree: $47,050

Application deadlines

M.S. and Ph.D.: Fall, Jan. 1; Spring, check with field. M.Eng.: Fall, Jan. 1; Spring: Sept. 15

Requirements summary

  • All Graduate School Requirements, including the TOEFL Exam for non-native English applicants
  • three recommendations
  • GRE general test
  • M.Eng. applicants who are Cornell undergraduates should contact the field office for requirements

Degrees

  • M.Eng.
  • M.S.
  • Ph.D.

Subjects

  • Geological Sciences (M.S., Ph.D., M.Eng.)

Major concentrations

  • economic geology
  • engineering geology
  • environmental geophysics
  • general geology
  • geobiology
  • geochemistry and isotope geology
  • geohydrology
  • geomorphology
  • geophysics
  • geotectonics
  • mineralogy
  • ocean science and technology
  • paleontology
  • petroleum geology
  • petrology
  • planetary geology
  • Precambrian geology
  • Quaternary geology
  • rock mechanics
  • sedimentology
  • seismology
  • stratigraphy
  • structural geology

Minor concentrations

  • marine geology

The geological science program is designed to give students broad and formal training in the basic sciences as well as field and practical experience through research in their specialty. The program has particular strengths in geophysics, geochemistry and petrology, structural geology, sedimentology, marine ecology, and paleontology. However, the exceptional flexibility of Cornell's graduate program provides ample opportunity for students to work across disciplinary areas. For example, arrangements exist for study of marine ecology, water resources, and various branches of applied geological science. Faculty members in other fields or divisions offer interdisciplinary courses including planetology and extraterrestrial geology, paleobotany, ecology and systematics, biogeochemistry, limnology, soil genesis, soil mineralogy, soil and rock mechanics, remote sensing, environmental fluid mechanics and hydrology, fluid dynamics, elasticity, geotechnical and earthquake engineering, regional planning, hydraulics and hydrology, and materials science and engineering.

At least one minor subject outside the field is required for the doctoral degree. Before the end of their second semester in residence, all students must take a qualifying examination. This exam is in addition to those required by the Graduate School. It determines the candidate's fitness for undertaking advanced studies and enables the Special Committee to plan programs that will make the student familiar with the requisite knowledge in the chosen areas.

Research and study opportunities:
Research programs are being conducted by the field in such diverse areas as the study of plate tectonics on a global scale; carbon sequestration and storage in deep strata, the interaction of tectonics, topography, and climate in major mountain systems such as the Andes and Himalayas; investigation of igneous rocks in arc systems; tectonics, seismology, sedimentation, and geomorphology of the central Andes; structure and petrology of magmatic intrusions in the Coast Ranges of British Columbia; seismic reflection profiling of the deep crust and upper mantle; response of marine ecosystems to climate variability and change; dynamics and mechanics of the lithosphere and asthenosphere; application of geophysical techniques such as ground penetrating radar to environmental and archaeological problems; marine ecological and paleontological studies in the Caribbean Sea and Florida Keys; dynamics of marine ecosystems and organisms from plankton to whales using remote sensing and other tools; volcanic hazard assessment in the Andes; three-dimensional modeling of fluid flow in sedimentary basins; biogeochemistry, soil development, and dynamics in young volcanic terrains; geochemistry and geophysics of oceanic islands, mid-ocean ridges and island arcs; remote sensing of seismic and volcanic deformation of the crust; dynamics of mantle plumes and earth science education. The field maintains working agreements with institutions worldwide to facilitate research projects in those areas or to work on materials especially accessible there. Current and recent graduate students have carried out field investigations in such diverse places as the Philippines, Montserrat (West Indies), British Columbia, Mauritius (Indian Ocean), Honduras, Argentina, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Monterey Bay (California), and Tibet. The Paleontological Research Institution, located near the campus, has world-renowned facilities and collections available to students interested in paleontology.

The Ithaca region itself is particularly suited for research in stratigraphy, paleontology, geomorphology, and glacial geology. The nearby Adirondack area is classic for studies of igneous and metamorphic petrology.

Application:
Students who are self-motivated and self-directed with strong quantitative backgrounds and a keen interest in and curiosity about the Earth are encouraged to apply. While helpful, prior study of geology is not a requirement for admission; applications from students with undergraduate degrees in other fields are welcome.
 
Applicants are required to submit an online application, a statement of purpose, an official transcript from each college or university attended, three letters of recommendation, and GRE general test scores. Applicants whose native language is not English must also submit TOEFL scores.

Please visit apply.gradschool.cornell.edu to apply online.

Geoffrey Abers -- Concentrations: seismology; geotectonics; geophysics; Research interests: Earthquake seismology, earth structure, material exchange between the earth surface and deep interior, and deformation at active plate boundaries; emphasis on deep roots of volcanoes and on fault systems generating great earthquakes
Richard Allmendinger -- Concentrations: seismology; structural geology; geotectonics; Research interests: structural geology
Warren Allmon -- Concentrations: paleontology; ocean science and technology; Research interests: macroevolution; evolutionary paleoecology; systematics of Cenozoic mollusks
J. Thomas Brenna -- Concentrations: geochemistry and isotope geology; Research interests: mass spectrometry; biomedicine; compound-specific isotope analysis; instrument development
Larry Brown -- Concentrations: seismology; environmental geophysics; geophysics; Research interests: geophysics; seismology; ground penetrating radar; geotectonics
Lawrence Cathles -- Concentrations: engineering geology; geochemistry and isotope geology; petroleum geology; environmental geophysics; economic geology; geotectonics; geohydrology; geophysics; Research interests: economic geology; geophysics
John Cisne -- Concentrations: stratigraphy; paleontology; sedimentology; general geology; geobiology; Research interests: paleontology
Louis Derry -- Concentrations: geochemistry and isotope geology; general geology; ocean science and technology; Research interests: low-temperature geochemistry; isotope geochemistry; biogeochemical cycles
Gregory Dietl -- Concentrations: paleontology; ocean science and technology; Research interests: paleontology
Charles Greene -- Concentrations: ocean science and technology; Research interests: oceanography; interaction of physical and biological processes in oceanic ecosystems
Alexander Hayes -- Concentrations: planetary geology; Research interests: Evolution of planetary surfaces
David Hysell -- Concentrations: geophysics; Research interests: geophysics; upper atmosphere physics; radar remote sensing; space plasmas
Teresa Jordan -- Concentrations: petroleum geology; stratigraphy; geotectonics; sedimentology; general geology; ocean science and technology; Research interests: stratigraphy; sedimentology; tectonics; geomorphology
Suzanne Kay -- Concentrations: geochemistry and isotope geology; petrology; geotectonics; Research interests: igneous petrology; geochemistry
Robert Kay -- Concentrations: geochemistry and isotope geology; petrology; planetary geology; Precambrian geology; economic geology; geotectonics; mineralogy; general geology; Research interests: petrology; geochemistry
Kathleen Keranen -- Concentrations: seismology; geotectonics; geophysics; Research interests: Tectonics at active plate boundaries; structure of the crust and lithosphere; induced earthquakes; hazards and resources
Rowena Lohman -- Concentrations: geophysics; Research interests: geophysics
Jonathan Lunine -- Concentrations: planetary geology; Research interests: Planetary Science; Theoretical Astrophysics; Astrobiology
Natalie Mahowald -- Concentrations: geochemistry and isotope geology; Research interests: global interactions between climate and bio-geochemistry through aerosols
Sturt Manning -- Concentrations: geochemistry and isotope geology; Quaternary geology; Research interests: dendrochronology; dendroclimatology; dendrochemistry in the Mediterranean, Near East and Northeast North America; radiocarbon dating and calibration; Aegean, Cypriot and East Mediterranean history
Bruce Monger -- Concentrations: ocean science and technology; Research interests: Satellite remote sensing; biological oceanography
Mainak Mookherjee -- Concentrations: mineralogy; geophysics; Research interests: Mineral physics; high pressure studies
Thomas O'Rourke -- Concentrations: engineering geology; rock mechanics; Research interests: geotechnical and earthquake engineering
Jason Phipps-Morgan -- Concentrations: geotectonics; geophysics; ocean science and technology; Research interests: geodynamics, marine geophysics, geochemical evolution of the Earth, hotspot, mid-ocean ridge, and subduction zone processes
Matthew Pritchard -- Concentrations: planetary geology; seismology; geotectonics; geophysics; Research interests: active tecctonics/earthquake cycle; volcanology; planetary geophysics
Robert Ross -- Concentrations: Quaternary geology; stratigraphy; paleontology; sedimentology; general geology; geobiology; Research interests: evolutionary paleobiology; paleoceanography; geoscience education; micropaleontology
Andy Ruina -- Concentrations: engineering geology; seismology; geotectonics; rock mechanics; geophysics; Research interests: geomechanics
Steven Squyres -- Concentrations: planetary geology; Research interests: planetary science
Tammo Steenhuis -- Concentrations: geohydrology; Research interests: geohydrology
Jefferson Tester -- Concentrations: engineering geology; geochemistry and isotope geology; petroleum geology; economic geology; geohydrology; rock mechanics; Research interests: geothermal energy; advanced drilling technology; unconventional fossil fuel upgrading; carbon capture and sequestration; water purification and use
John Thompson -- Concentrations: economic geology; Research interests: Economic geology; natural resource geology and economics
William White -- Concentrations: geochemistry and isotope geology; petrology; ocean science and technology; Research interests: geochemistry

Graduate School Professors (emeritus)

Muawia Barazangi -- Concentrations: seismology; geotectonics; geophysics; Research interests: seismology; tectonics; geophysics; GIS
Bryan Isacks -- Concentrations: Research interests: seismology; tectonics

Learning Proficiencies

A candidate for a research master’s degree in Geological Sciences is expected to demonstrate knowledge in a sub-discipline within the broader domain of earth sciences and to synthesize and create new knowledge, making a contribution to the field in a timely fashion.

Proficiencies:

  • Make a contribution to scholarship within one of the sub-disciplines within earth sciences
  • Learn advanced research skills
    • Synthesize existing knowledge, identifying and accessing appropriate resources and other sources of relevant information, and critically analyzing and evaluating their own findings and those of others
    • Apply existing research methodologies, techniques, and technical skills
    • Develop both qualitative and quantitative skills
    • Communicate in a style appropriate to the discipline
  • Demonstrate commitment to advancing the values of scholarship
    • Keep abreast of current advances within one’s field and related areas
    • Show commitment to personal professional development through engagement in professional societies and other knowledge transfer modes
    • Show a commitment to creating an environment that supports learning—through teaching, collaborative inquiry, mentoring, organization of community learning experiences, or demonstration
  • Demonstrate professional skills
    • Adhere to ethical standards in the practice of geological sciences
    • Listen, give, and receive feedback effectively


A candidate for a doctoral degree in Geological Sciences is expected to demonstrate mastery of knowledge in a sub-discipline within the broader domain of earth sciences and to synthesize and create new knowledge, making an original and substantial contribution to the sub-discipline in a timely fashion.

Proficiencies:

  • Make an original and substantial contribution to one of the sub-disciplines within earth sciences
    • Think originally and independently to develop concepts and/or methodologies
    • Identify new research opportunities within their field
  • Demonstrate advanced research skills
    • Synthesize existing knowledge, identifying and accessing appropriate resources and other sources of relevant information, and critically analyze and evaluate their own findings and those of others
    • Master application of existing appropriate research methodologies, techniques, and technical skills
    • Utilize both qualitative and quantitative approaches
    • Communicate in a style appropriate to the discipline
  • Demonstrate commitment to advancing the values of scholarship
    • Keep abreast of current advances within their sub-discipline of earth science and related areas
    • Show commitment to personal professional development through engagement in professional societies, publication, and other knowledge transfer modes
    • Show commitment to creating an environment that supports learning—through teaching, collaborative inquiry, mentoring, organization of community learning experiences, or demonstration
  • Demonstrate professional skills
    • Advance ethical standards in the practice of earth sciences
    • Listen, give, and receive feedback effectively

Aspirational Goals

The Field of Geological Sciences at Cornell University has expectations of Cornell
graduates that may defy explicit measurement scales. These aspirational goals (listed below) are intended to encourage students’ growth and development but do not necessarily lend themselves to assessment as readily as the learning proficiencies

  • Serve as an ambassador for research and scholarship
  • Engage in improving their own level of general science literacy
  • Effectively engage in one’s broader community through various forms of outreach
  • Share their knowledge of natural sciences with others who need earth system insight to make wise decisions or to understand current issues
  • Explore interconnections
    • Give equal respect to knowledge generated by, and the geoscientistsfrom, nations and cultures different than those of the student
    • Respect research in other areas
    • Understand and articulate the impact of research on society

 

Learn more about the M.Eng. program for Geological Sciences.