The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences offers both the Master of Science and Doctor Philosophy degrees with a major in geology. Individuals interested in these programs should contact the Director of Graduate Admissions in the department and the faculty most closely related to the applicant's research interests for information and application procedures.
Prerequisite for either graduate degree is a bachelor's degree in the geosciences or related field (typically, but not exclusively, from the physical, natural, environmental, life sciences, or engineering). It is strongly recommended that students contact potential advisors, well in advance, about research projects before applying.
A single, entirely online application form is used for the application, which includes information for both the Graduate School and the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences requirements. For the application, an applicant must provide transcripts of previous university work, a statement of interests, which includes a description of any prior research experience, as well as a clear statement regarding career goal(s) and reason(s) for wanting to pursue a graduate degree in EPS at UT, and contact information for three individuals to write letters of recommendation. As of Fall 2019, submission of GRE scores (general) is optional, but students eligible for competitive fellowship nominations are encouraged to provide exam scores. International students need to provide more information, as well as TOEFL or IELTS scores. Review information on the Graduate School website.
Upon admission, a student begins to develop their research plans, and the student and advisor discuss the best possible individuals to form a committee that will be best suited for supporting the student. The Thesis/Dissertation Committee is primarily responsible for advising the student's research activities, but also can modify the course curriculum based on the student's area of research.
MASTER OF SCIENCE - GEOLOGY MAJOR
Successful completion of the Master's degree requires a minimum of 30 hours of approved graduate credit, including six hours of thesis credit (GEOL 500), an approved written thesis proposal, successful oral defense of a written thesis, and a minimum 3.0 GPA in all graduate course work. Taking courses from outside the department is encouraged. The Department also has separate course requirements in addition to University requirements. Students pursuing a M.S. degree must enroll in GEOL 595 every semester they are in residence unless course or teaching conflicts preclude a student from being present. A student may apply a maximum of 2 credits towards graduation. Each student must also enroll in GEOL 596 one time during their residency. Students also need to complete a committee-approved field experience, where a student has demonstrated proficiency in field-based Earth Sciences. In many cases, this represents an undergraduate field camp course, although there are many acceptable alternatives.
All UT Theses, as well as undergrad honor's theses, are now deposited electronically in TRACE and are available here: http://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_gradthes/.
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY - GEOLOGY MAJOR
Successful completion of the Ph.D. degree requires a minimum of 24 hours of graded course work beyond that required for the Master's degree. A student entering the Ph.D. program with a Bachelor's degree only must complete 48 hours of graded course work. Additional requirements are 24 hours of dissertation credits GEOL 600), approval of a written dissertation proposal, completion of a comprehensive examination, and successful oral defense of a written dissertation.
The written proposal should be completed within the third semester if a student enters the Ph.D. program with a prior M.S. degree, or the forth semester if entering with only a B.S. degree. After the proposal is approved, then students are required to pass a comprehensive examination, again no later than the end of a student's third semester if having entered with a M.S. degree, or the fourth semester if having entered with a B.S. degree. The examination includes both written and oral components in which individuals are tested on their knowledge of their intended research area and related fields. The candidate is expected to be conversant across a wide range of the geological sciences.
The final written Ph.D. dissertation will demonstrate high quality, original research by the student. Research results will be presented orally in a departmental seminar open to the public, and will be defended in a private defense restricted to the Dissertation Committee and interested departmental faculty. By the time of the dissertation defense, a student should have at least one accepted peer-reviewed publication (“in press” is acceptable).
In addition to University requirements, the Department has a number of compulsory additional course work requirements for the Ph.D. degree. All students pursuing a Ph.D. degree must enroll in course number GEOL 595 every semester they are in residence unless course or teaching conflicts preclude a student from being present. Each student must also enroll in course GEOL 596 one time during their residency. A Ph.D. student may apply a maximum of 4 credits of GEOL 595/596 toward graduation. All Ph.D. students are required to enroll in a minimum of 9 hours of 600-level courses, excluding GEOL 600 (this requirement supersedes the University requirement). To graduate, each student is required to have had a committee-approved field experience, where a student has demonstrated proficiency in field-based Earth Sciences. In many cases this represents an undergraduate field camp course, although there are many acceptable alternatives. A minimum 3.0 GPA is required in all graduate course work, and taking courses from outside the department is encouraged.
All UT Dissertations are now deposited electronically in TRACE and are available here: http://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_graddiss/.
Interdisciplinary Graduate Minors
Computational Science (IGMCS)
The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences participates in the interdisciplinary graduate minor in computational science (IGMCS) program. Any student pursuing a master's or PhD with a major in geology can receive a minor in computational science by completing the appropriate IGMCS requirements. For additional information, see the description of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Minor in Computational Science listed under the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science or visit the IGMCS website at http://igmcs.utk.edu/. The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences also contributes courses to the IGMCS program curriculum.
The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences participates in the interdisciplinary graduate minor in watershed program. Any student pursuing a master's or PhD with a major in geology can receive a watershed minor by completing the appropriate requirements. For additional information, see the description of the Interdisciplinary Watershed Graduate Minor on the website at http://watershed.utk.edu/grad.html. The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences also contributes courses to the Watershed program curriculum.