Earth and Environmental Sciences


Earth and Environmental Sciences
Admits Fall and Winter terms. Deadline for Fall applications is January 5. All other supporting materials including recommendations, transcripts, GRE scores, etc. must be received by Jan 5. Deadline for Winter applications and supporting materials is November 1. Contact Program for other requirements. Please use the following information when completing the application.
Code: 02043; Academic Program: Earth and Environmental Sciences; Ph.D.
Code: 02044; Academic Program: Earth and Environmental Sciences; M.S.

Code: 02045; Academic Program: Earth and Environmental Sciences; Non-Candidate for Degree


  • Computational Mineralogy (CompMin)
  • Earth Surface Processes & Landscape Evolution (EarthSurPr)
  • Economic Geology (EconGeol)
  • Environmental Biogeochemistry (EnvGeochem)
  • Environmental Mineralogy (EnvMineral)
  • Experimental Petrology/Geochemistry (ExpPetrol)
  • Geodesy and Crustal Deformation (Geodesy)
  • Geodynamics (Geodynm)
  • Geology (Geology)
  • Geomicrobiology (Geomicrbio)
  • Geophysics (Geophysics)
  • Glaciology/Cryosphere (Glaciology)
  • Hydrogeology (Hydrogeol)
  • Magmatism and Volcanism (MagmVolc)
  • Crust/Mantle/Core Geochemistry (MantlCrust)
  • Mineral Physics (MinPhysics)
  • Nuclear Energy and its Fuel Cycle (NuclEnergy)
  • Physical Oceanography (Oceanogr)
  • Paleoclimate/Climate Change (PalClimChn)
  • Paleoclimate Modeling (PalClimMod)
  • Paleobotany (Paleobot)
  • Paleoceanography (Paleocean)
  • Paleomagnetism (Paleomag)
  • Paleontology (Paleontol)
  • Sedimentology/Depositional Environments (SedDepEnv)
  • Seismology (Seismo)
  • Structural Geology and Tectonics (StrucTect)



Chair: Professor Chris Poulsen

Associate Chair for Curriculum: Professor Jeroen Ritsema

Associate Chair for Graduate Studies: Associate Professor Marin Clark

Professors: Baumiller, Becker, Blum, Castro, Fisher, Lange, Lohmann, Ruff, van der Pluijm, Poulsen, Ritsema,Van der Voo, van Keken, and Zhang

Associate Professors: Arbic, Burnham, Clark, Dick, Hendy, Hetland, Li, Niemi, Sheldon, Simon, and Wilson

Assistant Professor: Aciego, Cory, and Smith

Adjunct Professor: Geissman

Professors Emeritus: Beck, Ewing, Gingerich, Kelly, Kesler, Meyers, Moore, Mukasa, O'Neil, Owen, Peacor, Pollack, Rea, Smith, Walker, Walter, and Wilkinson

Research Professor: Alt

Research Scientist: Badgley

Associate Research Scientists: Gleason, Hall, and Huang

Assistant Research Scientists: Chen, Demers, Lang, Lian, Wang, and Zhang


Degree Programs

Master of Science
Doctor of Philosophy

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences awards MS and Ph.D. degrees in Geological Sciences. In addition to the specific requirements listed below, see the Master's Degrees and Doctoral Degrees sections of the Rackham Graduate School Academic Policies.

Master of Science

Admission: Applications will be considered from students with undergraduate degrees in geology or other science fields. Three letters of recommendation are required and must be submitted online. Verbal, quantitative, and analytical scores from the Graduate Record Examination must be submitted when applying for admittance. Official transcripts must be sent to Rackham Admissions.

Minimum Number of Credits Required: 24 credit hours.

Specific Course Requirements: A minimum of 24 credits at the graduate level of which at least 22 must be in courses (including seminars). Of these, at least 12 credits must be in Earth and Environmental Sciences, no more than 4 credits may be in seminars, and at least 4 must be in accepted cognate courses. Research credits may be used in partial fulfillment of these requirements but are excluded from the 22 credits of coursework.

Thesis or Research Essay: A thesis, a report on a research project, or a publishable scientific paper must be presented to and judged acceptable by two faculty members.

Final Examination: There is no final examination requirement for the MS degree. MS students admitted into the Ph.D. program may take the Ph.D. preliminary exams in their fourth term of the MS program.

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission: Applications will be considered from individuals with a background in geological, or other science fields. A Master's degree is not a prerequisite to enrollment in the Ph.D. program. Three letters of recommendation are required and must be submitted online. Verbal, quantitative, and analytical scores from the Graduate Record Examination must be submitted when applying for admittance. Official transcripts must be sent to Rackham Admissions.

Specific Course Requirements: Specific Course Requirements for the Ph.D. degree are a minimum of 24 credits at the graduate level of which at least 22 must be in courses (including seminars). Of these 22, at least 12 credits must be in Earth and Environmental Sciences, no more than 4 credits may be in seminars, and at least 4 must be in cognate courses. Research credits may be used in partial fulfillment of these requirements but are excluded from the 22 credits of coursework. The Department may allow certain students to depart from the requirements of a normal Ph.D. program in order that they may take advantage of special cognate science interests and background. However, in order for a student to qualify for such an exception, he/she must prepare an acceptable plan, which is reviewed and approved by the student’s advisor, the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, and the Department Executive Committee.

Preliminary Examination: The Ph.D. Preliminary Examination includes written and oral components. The purpose of the Preliminary Examination is to determine the adequacy of the applicant's abilities and background knowledge, and their potential to complete a Ph.D. degree. The written exam component focuses on background knowledge across the geological sciences, and the oral component focuses on research potential and includes an extended abstract on a research topic.

Students who will receive a master's degree from this Department will take both the oral and written parts of the Preliminary Examination in their fourth term in the graduate program. Students who enter the Ph.D. program with a master's degree from another institution or academic department will take the Preliminary Examination in their second term in the graduate program. Students entering the Ph.D. program without a master's degree will take the Preliminary Examination in their fourth term in the graduate program. The purpose of the Exploratory Interview is to evaluate the student's background relative to the program in this Department and to provide guidance in preparing for the Preliminary Examination.

Immediately following successful completion of the Preliminary Examination and before the first day of classes of the term following the examination, a Dissertation Committee will be appointed and be responsible for monitoring the student's academic progress. The Dissertation Committee shall meet with the student at least once each academic year to review the student's progress. At least one member from the Preliminary Examination Committee shall be appointed to the student's Dissertation Committee.

Candidate Status: General candidacy requirements are described in Doctoral Degrees section of the Rackham Graduate School Academic Policies. Students may be advanced to candidacy upon the successful completion of requisite coursework and the written and oral portions of their Preliminary Examination. Students entering with an MS from another institution are expected to achieve candidacy before the third term in residence. Students entering without an MS are expected to achieve candidacy before the fifth term in residence.

Final Requirements: The department will adhere to the Graduate School deadlines for completion of all final requirements, including scheduling of the final Defense of Dissertation Examination, as outlined in the Dissertation Handbook.

For information on the dissertation committee, final oral examination, and publication of dissertation, see the Rackham Graduate School Academic Policies.


University of Michigan

2534 Clarence Cook Little Building
1100 North University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1005
Phone: (734) 615-3034
Fax: (734) 763-4690
Program Website:


The following courses constitute the range of approved offerings at the time of the assembly of the publication. Not all of the courses listed below are available for registration. Please see the Schedule of Classes on the Office of the Registrar's website for course offerings by term. The final authority for changes in course offerings rests with the academic departments.

Earth & Environmental Sciences (Subject Code: EARTH)
401/AOSS 401.  Geophys Fluid Dyn.  Advisory pre-requisite: AOSS 323 or EARTH 323 (or GEOSCI 323); MATH 215 and 216 and PHYSICS 240  (4 credits)

408/ENVIRON 403.  Intro GIS Earth Sci.  Required pre-requisite: [An introductory geology or environmental sciences course (EARTH 116 or 119 or 120 or 201 or 284)] and MATH 116  Advisory pre-requisite: Although previous GIS experience is not required, students are expected to be familiar with desktop and mobile computing, and to be comfortable with at least one quantitative software program (Matlab, Excel, Mathematica, or R, as examples).  (3 credits)

409/AOSS 410.  Earth System Model.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 320 and 321; or AOSS 320 and 321  (4 credits)

410.  Fld Stds Volcanology.  Advisory pre-requisite: One introductory EARTH (GEOSCI) laboratory course  (3 credits)

411/AOSS 411.  Cloud&Precip Process.  Advisory pre-requisite: 350, MATH 216  (3 credits)

413.  Geomicrobiology.  (3 credits)

414/AOSS 414.  Weather Systems.  Advisory pre-requisite: AOSS 350, AOSS 401, AOSS 551  (3 credits)

415.  Intro Econ Geol.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 310  (4 credits)

416.  Org Function&Evol.  Advisory pre-requisite: BIOLOGY 162 or 171 or 172, or EARTH (GEOSCI) 418; MATH 115; PHYSICS 125.  (4 credits)

417.  Geol Grt Lakes.  Advisory pre-requisite: An introductory course in Geology (EARTH 116, 119, 120 or 205/206/118), BIOLOGY 171 or 172, or Oceanography (EARTH 222/223), OR permission of instructor  (2 credits)

418.  Paleontology.  Advisory pre-requisite: An introductory course in Geology (EARTH 116, 119, 120 or 205/206/118) or BIOLOGY 171 or 172  (3 credits)

419.  Paleontology Lab.  Advisory pre-requisite: Prior or concurrent enrollment in EARTH (GEOSCI) 418.  (1 credits)

420.  Intro Earth Physics.  Required pre-requisite: MATH 116 or 156 or 176 or 186 or 295  (3 credits)

421/ENVIRON 426/AOSS 421.  Intro Phys Oceanogr.  Advisory pre-requisite: MATH 115 and 116, and an introductory science course  (3 credits)

422.  Prin of Geochem.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 305, 310, 315 and CHEM 125/126/130  (3 credits)

423/AOSS 422.  Boundary Layer Met.  Advisory pre-requisite: AOSS 350 or equivalent  (4 credits)

426.  Mineral Physics.  (3 credits)

427/ENVIRON 437.  Appl Mineral.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 315 or comparable courses in the solid-state  (3 credits)

428.  Mineral Surfaces.  Advisory pre-requisite: One course in mineralogy, petrology, solid state chemistry, solid state physics, or materials science.  (3 credits)

429.  Comput Mineralogy.  (4 credits)

430.  Depos Environ.  Advisory pre-requisite: Permission of instructor.  (3 credits)

431/ENVIRON 431.  Terrestrial Biomes.  Required pre-requisite: BIOLOGY 171 or EARTH 116; G  (3 credits)

433.  Fld Study-Econ Geol.  Advisory pre-requisite: Permission of instructor.  (1 to 4 credits)

434.  Fld Stdy-Tect&Struc.  Advisory pre-requisite: Permission of instructor.  (1 to 4 credits)

435.  Fld Stdy-Min&Petrol.  Advisory pre-requisite: Permission of instructor.  (1 to 4 credits)

436.  Fld Std-Strat&Paleo.  Advisory pre-requisite: Permission of instructor.  (1 to 4 credits)

437.  Evolu of Vertebrate.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 125 or BIOLOGY 162 or 171 or 172.  (4 credits)

438.  Fossl Rec Evol Prim.  Advisory pre-requisite: Introductory Geology, Biology, or Anthropology.  (4 credits)

439.  Fossil&Evol Mammals.  Advisory pre-requisite: Permission of instructor.  (4 credits)

440.  Geol Field Methods.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 305, 310, and 351 or equivalents strongly recommended  (5 credits)

441.  Field Geol Project.  Advisory pre-requisite: Completion of EARTH (GEOSCI) 440 immediately prior  (1 credits)

442/ENVIRON 442.  Earth Surface&Soils.  Advisory pre-requisite: MATH 115 and CHEM 130  (4 credits)

443.  Climate Tec&Erth Sur.  Advisory pre-requisite: MATH 115 or equivalent and EARTH (GEOSCI) 117 or 119 or equivalent  (4 credits)

445/EEB 445.  Biogeography.  Advisory pre-requisite: BIOLOGY 171, (172 or 174) & 173; or BIOLOGY 195 & 173. One course in historical geology is recommended  (3 credits)

446/ENVIRON 446.  Paleoclimatology.  Advisory pre-requisite: MATH 115 and 116 and EARTH 305, or permission of instructor  (3 credits)

449.  Marine Geology.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 222/223 or introductory physical geology (EARTH (GEOSCI) 116, 117, 120 or 205/206/118)  (3 credits)

451.  Int Struct Tectonics.  Advisory pre-requisite: Permission of Instructor.  (3 credits)

452.  Paleoceanography.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 117/119, 222  (3 credits)

454/AOSS 440.  Meteor Analysis Lab.  Advisory pre-requisite: AOSS 350, AOSS 401  (4 credits)

455.  Determin Meth.  Advisory pre-requisite: One term of Chemistry and Physics  (4 credits)

457/ENSCEN 451/AOSS 451.  Atmos Dynamics I.  Advisory pre-requisite: AOSS 401 or MATH 450  (4 credits)

465/ENSCEN 467/AOSS 467/CHEM 467/ENVIRON 467.  Biogeochem.  Advisory pre-requisite: MATH 116, CHEM 210, and PHYSICS 240 (or 260).  (3 credits)

467.  Stratigraphy & Basin.  Required pre-requisite: (EARTH 116/ENVIRON 116) or (EARTH/ENIVRON 118 and 119) or (EARTH/ENVIRON 120 or 201 or ENVIRON 209) or (EARTH 205 and 206 and 207); or Graduate Standing  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH 305, 310, and 351  (4 credits)

468.  Data and Models.  Required pre-requisite: MATH 115 or equivalent (MATH 116, 120, 121, 156, 175, 176, 185, 186, 295, 296)  Advisory pre-requisite: Knowledge of, or willingness to learn, a programming language (e.g., Matlab, Mathematica)  (3 credits)

473.  Fund Org Geochem.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 305 or CHEM 215/216.  (3 credits)

474/AOSS 474.  Ice and Climate.  Advisory pre-requisite: MATH 115 and 116  (3 credits)

475/ENSCEN 475/AOSS 475.  Earth System Intract.  Advisory pre-requisite: Senior standing in science or engineering  (4 credits)

477/ENVIRON 479.  Hydrogeology.  Advisory pre-requisite: MATH 116; and High school knowledge of PHYSICS, CHEMISTRY, and EARTH (GEOSCI) or equivalent.  (4 credits)

478.  Geochm Nature Water.  Advisory pre-requisite: College Chemistry.  (4 credits)

479.  Marine Geochem.  Advisory pre-requisite: CHEM 125/126/130.  (3 credits)

483.  Geophysics-Seismol.  Advisory pre-requisite: Prior or concurrent election of MATH 215 and PHYSICS 240 (or 260).  (4 credits)

486.  Geodynamics.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 420 and prior or concurrent election of MATH 215 and PHYSICS 240 (or 260).  (3 credits)

494.  Experiential Learn.  Advisory pre-requisite: Junior or senior standing; and one of the following: EARTH (GEOSCI) 116, 119 and 118, 120, 201, 205/206/207, 222 and 223, 284 or ENVIRON 116, 119 and 118, 120, 209, 232 and 233, 284 or GEOG 201  (1 to 4 credits)

495.  Research Methods NS.  (1 credits)

496.  Topics Earth Env Sci.  (1 to 3 credits)

497.  W.T.Smith Lec Sem.  Advisory pre-requisite: Two required Geological Sciences concentration core courses.  (1 credits)

498.  Research&Spec Work.  (1 to 6 credits)

499.  Research&Spec Work.  (1 to 6 credits)

500.  Intro Linux Prog.  (2 credits)

501.  Element Micropaleo.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH 119 and 118 (or GEOSCI 119 and 118) or equivalent and one EARTH 418 or GEOSCI 418  (3 credits)

503.  Comput Method GEOSCI.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 500 recommended or permission of instructor  (2 credits)

504.  Sources&Cycling.  Advisory pre-requisite: Graduate standing  (3 to 4 credits)

506.  Habitable World.  Advisory pre-requisite: CHEM 130, MATH 116, and EARTH (GEOSCI) 422; or permission of instructor.  (3 credits)

507.  Ign Petrog-Petrogen.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 310  (4 credits)

508.  Metamorph Petrology.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH 310 and 315, or EARTH 431; Graduate standing  (4 credits)

510.  Paleobiology.  Advisory pre-requisite: Graduate standing; and one of EARTH 418, 437, 438, 439, or MCDB 413  (4 credits)

511.  Paleobiology 2.  Advisory pre-requisite: Graduate standing; EARTH 510; introductory biology and physics; introductory paleontology EARTH 418; and evolutionary biology (EEB 516 and 390)  (3 credits)

513.  Geomicrobiology.  (2 to 4 credits)

514/AOSS 535/EEB 515.  Isotope Biogeochem.  Advisory pre-requisite: Permission of instructor  (3 credits)

515.  Tect Oc&Conts.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 351.  (4 credits)

516.  Orogenic Systems.  Advisory pre-requisite: Calculus I ( Math 115 or equivalent), Genreal Physics( Physics 140, 240 or equivalent), an introductory course in geology, graduate student status, or permission of instructor.  (2 to 4 credits)

523.  Micro Commun Omics.  (2 credits)

525.  Tectonophysics.  Advisory pre-requisite: A basic knowledge of mathematics and physics is required; Permission of instructor.  (4 credits)

529/NERS 531/ENSCEN 531.  Nucl Waste Mgmt.  Advisory pre-requisite: Senior standing.  (3 credits)

530.  Sediment Diagenesis.  Advisory pre-requisite: Graduate standing and permission of instructor.  (3 credits)

531.  Sem Geologic Prob.  Advisory pre-requisite: Permission of instructor.  (1 to 3 credits)

532.  Sem Climate-Tect-Top.  Advisory pre-requisite: Permission of instructor.  (1 to 2 credits)

533.  Sem Economic Geol.  Advisory pre-requisite: Permission of instructor.  (1 to 2 credits)

534.  Sem Geophy-Tec-Stru.  Advisory pre-requisite: Permission of instructor.  (1 to 2 credits)

535.  Sem Min-Petr-Geochm.  Advisory pre-requisite: Permission of instructor.  (1 to 2 credits)

536.  Sem Stratig-Paleo.  Advisory pre-requisite: Permission of instructor.  (1 to 2 credits)

537.  Topics Oceanography.  Required pre-requisite: Graduate  (1 credits)

538/EEB 538.  Quant Analysis.  Advisory pre-requisite: High school math, elementary statistics, and elementary computer skills. Graduate standing.  (3 credits)

539.  Sem Paleomammalogy.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 439 or permission of instructor. Graduate standing.  (1 to 2 credits)

541.  Sem Biogeochemistry.  (1 to 2 credits)

542.  Sem Environ Geochem.  Advisory pre-requisite: Graduate standing.  (1 to 2 credits)

553.  Thermo&Phase Equilib.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 315 and 310; CHEM 461 and 463 recommended. Graduate standing.  (3 credits)

554.  Thermodyn & Kinetics.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH 422 or equivalent  (4 credits)

555.  Kinetic Geochm Proc.  Advisory pre-requisite: Math through differential equations and EARTH (GEOSCI) 553. Graduate standing.  (3 credits)

580.  Isotope Earth Env Sc.  Advisory pre-requisite: Graduate standing or permission of instructor  (4 credits)

581/CEE 581.  Aquatic Chemistry.  Advisory pre-requisite: CHEM 130 and senior or graduate standing  (3 credits)

582.  Adv Mineral Deposit.  Advisory pre-requisite: Graduate standing. Introductory economic geology and geochemistry.  (4 credits)

599.  Independent Study.  (1 to 9 credits)

608.  Advanced Isotopes.  Advisory pre-requisite: EARTH (GEOSCI) 580. Graduate standing.  (3 credits)

620/MATSCIE 621/NERS 621.  Nuclear Waste Forms.  Advisory pre-requisite: NERS 531  (3 credits)

709.  Thesis Res Am-Ms.  Advisory pre-requisite: Graduate standing and permission of instructor.  (1 to 6 credits)

929.  Investigations.  Advisory pre-requisite: Graduate standing  (1 to 6 credits)

990.  Diss-Precand.  Advisory pre-requisite: Election for dissertation work by doctoral student not yet admitted as a Candidate. Graduate standing.  (1 to 8 credits)

995.  Diss-Cand.  Required pre-requisite: Candidate  (4 or 8 credits)

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Program Statistics

Ph.D. Admissions
Fall 2014 5 year Average
Number of applications 104 100
Number of new doctoral students 14 15
Ph.D. Enrollment
Fall 2014 5 year Average
Total enrollment 70 61
Female 44% 45%
Male 56% 55%
International 21% 30%
U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident 79% 70%
Ph.D. Enrollment, U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, by Race
Fall 2014 5 year Average
African American 0% 1%
Asian American 2% 3%
Hispanic (one or more races) 7% 6%
Native American 0% 0%
Pacific Islander 0% 0%
White 78% 82%
Two or more races (excludes Hispanic) 4% 5%
Not indicated 9% 4%
Ph.D. Degree
2014 5 year Average
Number of degrees awarded 6 7
Median years to Ph.D. 4.9 5
Percent of students who entered the doctoral program between 2000-01 and 2004-05 and completed the Ph.D. as of August 31, 2014 70%
Funding (external funding paid directly to Ph.D. students, without being disbursed by the University, is not included)
2014 5 year Average
Enrolled Ph.D. students with tuition AND stipend support 100% 99%
Enrolled Ph.D. students with tuition OR stipend support (in many cases, students competed successfully for external funding and did not need additional financial support) 0% 1%
Enrolled Ph.D. students who received no financial support (in many cases, students competed successfully for external funding and did not need additional financial support) 0% 0%
Ph.D. Placement Data
Position type first year after graduation, 2010 - 2014 cohorts Position type five years after graduation, 2006 - 2010 cohorts Position type ten years after graduation, 2002 - 2005 cohorts
Tenure-track faculty 6% 33% 64%
Postdoctoral / Traineeship / Fellowship 58% 16% 0%
Non-Tenure Track Faculty / University Researcher / University Administrator 8% 12% 8%
Business / Industry 22% 35% 20%
Other professional employment / Government / Non-Profit 0% 2% 8%
Not employed 6% 2% 0%
No data available 0% 0% 0%
Total Ph.D.s awarded 36 51 25

Program statistics are updated annually in December. Last updated December 23, 2014.