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Graduate Degree Programs

Prospective Graduate Students

StudentsThe Department of Geology offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. The M.S. is the professional degree in geology. It opens up careers in industries dedicated to exploration of natural resources (energy, metals, minerals, water), in public-sector regulation and protection of the environment, and in environmental remediation. As the terminal degree in Geology, the Ph.D. is the starting point of an academic career in the earth and planetary sciences. It is also sought-after by public- and private-sector organizations focused on the development and regulation of natural resources.

We have a diverse faculty and student body, covering many areas of the geosciences. We are well-equipped, and major equipment includes an electron microprobe, an x-ray diffractometer, and two gas-source stable isotope mass spectrometers. Students are supported on teaching and research assistantships, and funding for graduate research and travel expenses is supported by several department funds.

We have close ties to many other departments on campus, including Anthropology, Chemistry, Ecology, Forestry, Genetics, Geography, Marine Sciences, Microbiology, and Crop and Soil Sciences. We also have close associations with the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory near Aiken, South Carolina, the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography near Savannah, Georgia, and the University of Georgia Marine Institute on Sapelo Island, Georgia.

Diverse opportunities for field work and field trips are available nearby, ranging from the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Valley and Ridge to the north, the Piedmont that we live on, to the Coastal Plain and coast to the east. Our faculty and students conduct their field research at many other locations nationally and internationally.

Our graduate students do well in the job market. Of our graduates in the past five years, 90% are now employed in the earth sciences. Over half are employed in the private sector as geologists, including petroleum geology, minerals exploration, and environmental geology. About a third are employed in academia.

The Athens area is a great place to live. The cost of living is low, and Athens is rich with music, restaurants, and sports. The nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia coast, and Atlanta offer many opportunities for recreation that are easily accessible.

Graduate Student Funding

The Department of Geology funds all of its graduate students with a teaching assistantship or a research assistantship, and as a result, admission to our graduate program is competitive and limited by the available funding. Additional opportunities are available for first generation students, educationally or economically disadvantaged students, or students with a uniquely diverse background that adds to their discipline of study.

Teaching assistantships are two-year awards for M.S. students and four-year awards for Ph.D. students. Teaching assistantships are 4/9 awards, entailing approximately 18 hours of teaching responsibilities per week. For most students, this corresponds to teaching two lab sections of an introductory course, plus assisting a professor in a lecture section or field trips. Students with a teaching assistantship also receive tuition wavers and a reduced medical insurance rate.

Research assistantships are available through faculty with active grants and other sources of funding. The terms and requirements of a research assistantship are established by the faculty member. You are encouraged to contact faculty members in your area of interest for information regarding current research assistantship opportunities.

Application Process

The UGA Department of Geology accepts applications for admission to the M.S. and Ph.D. programs for Fall Semester only, owing to our annual cycle of graduate-student support. The deadline for applications is January 1st. If you have questions about the application process, email Ms. Ashley Arnold, our Academic Program Administrator, or Dr. Steven Holland, our Graduate Coordinator.

Our admissions are based on a combination of an applicant’s official transcripts (courses and grades), curriculum vitae (C.V.), statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. The Department of Geology no longer requires or accepts GRE scores; do not include these scores in any part of your application. Your C.V. should cover your educational and research background, special skills, and any other areas you wish to point out. For research experiences, clearly state their nature (for example, masters research, senior thesis, course project, etc.). Your letters of recommendation should come from faculty members that know you well. We do not recommend including references from employers, family members, camp counselors, ministers, etc.

An important part of your application is your statement of purpose. Your statement should describe (1) your educational experiences and how they have led to your interest in graduate study in the geological sciences; (2) a description of any scientific research you have conducted; and (3) a description of your research interests for graduate school and your career goals. A well-crafted statement of purpose is specific about your degree objective at UGA (M.S. or Ph.D.), what field of geology you want to study, and the geology faculty member you are interested in working with. You should mention any contacts you have had with your prospective advisor. Your statement of purpose is important both for its content and for how well you express yourself. It is typically 1–2 pages typed, single-spaced. Upload your C.V. and statement of purpose when you fill out your application to the Graduate School.

International students are also required to submit English proficiency test scores. The Graduate School requires a minimum TOEFL score of 80, with at least a 20 on speaking and writing, or a minimum IELTS overall score of 6.5, with no single score below 6.0. A teaching assistantship requires excellent speaking scores: a minimum of 26 on the TOEFL speaking score, or a minimum of 8.0 on the IELTS speaking score.

The University of Georgia Graduate School website will answer many of your questions about applications, financial support, student life, professional development, and student services, such as housing, health insurance, and transportation. The Graduate School site also describes the application requirements and process in more detail.

Applicants for graduate studies may request a waiver of the application fee, and they should work directly with their prospective faculty advisor. Applicants requesting a waiver should prepare their application online and ask their prospective advisor to send a short (2–3 sentences) recommendation of the request to the Graduate Coordinator. Waivers are not guaranteed, and waiver decisions are based on the application, the recommendation, and available funds.

Apply to the UGA Graduate Program Online

Application deadline is January 1st.

Application Review Process

Once we receive your application, it will be reviewed by faculty members broadly in your area of interest and by the Admissions Committee. We are looking for students that have a strong background in science, are motivated, have a vision about their graduate work and career plans, and are enthusiastic about doing research. We are particularly interested in a good fit between a student’s interests and one of our faculty members. Your statement of purpose is crucial for demonstrating all of this. You will be contacted about the admission and funding decisions in mid-March.

Visit us

We strongly encourage all applicants to visit us during the application process, typically in January and February. This gives you a chance to interview faculty, meet other graduate students, tour our department’s facilities, and get a close look at the University and Athens. A one-day visit is usually sufficient. Contact your prospective advisor and the Academic Program Administrator when you are ready to set up your visit.

Have questions?

Academic Program Administrator
Ms. Ashley Arnold
office: 308 Geography–Geology Building
phone: 706-542-9090
Graduate Coordinator
Dr. Steven Holland
office: 217 Geography–Geology Building
phone: 706-542-0424

Your gift helps to fund research, travel, and field experience for students and faculty.