Doctor of Philosophy in Geology Degree Program - University of Houston
Skip to main content

Doctor of Philosophy in Geology Degree Program

A doctoral applicant will have earned a Master’s degree or have completed 30 semester hours of graduate credit, and submitted scores from the General GRE examination (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing; advanced GRE is recommended but optional).  The Director of Graduate Studies in Geology and Chairman will evaluate the credentials of each applicant for the Ph.D. program, considering a broad range of criteria, including:

  1. Content of undergraduate and graduate programs and grades earned, particularly in the areas of Geosciences, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.
  2. Letters of recommendation from three (3) individuals (preferably faculty members), who are able to judge the candidate’s academic abilities and potential for scholarly research.
  3. Scores earned on the General GRE test (and TOEFL test, where applicable).
  4. Scientific, professional, and technical publications, and Master’s Thesis.

Submit all online graduate applications to Please ensure that you have asked ETS to submit your GRE and TOEFL scores to UH using code 6870. Also, for reference letter purposes, ensure that you have included 3 names and emails on your application.

Have original transcripts mailed to:

Sylvia Marshall, Academic Avisor II
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Rm. 312, SR1
University of Houston
Houston, Texas 77204-5007


All students: Complete applications for Fall semester admissions must be submitted for review no later than February 1. Complete applications for Spring semester admissions must be submitted for review no later than September 1. All of the required forms (letters, scores and original transcripts) must be received by our departmental office by the deadlines stated above.

Please do not send any material to the office of admissions.


The award of the Doctorate of Philosophy degree signifies that the recipient has achieved broad knowledge of the discipline and demonstrated research competence meeting national standards through completion of an acceptable dissertation.

During the two week period before their first full semester at the University, the student must take a Departmental general placement examination, consisting of both written and oral parts.  The examining committee will determine what deficiencies – if any – are present, and the acceptable means of removing those deficiencies (e.g., course work within and/or outside the Department, directed study, research papers).

The first year of studies will concentrate on courses in the expected area of research, as well as courses needed to remove deficiencies. In order to ensure breadth, each student is required to take at least one course from 3 of the 4 Graduate Core Course Categories (i.e., Category 1: Geochemistry/Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology, 2: Sedimentary Geology; 3: Structure/Tectonics; and 4: Applied/Analytical).  A list of the courses in each category is available from the Advising Assistant and Director of Graduate Studies).  During the first year, the student is expected to have selected a Dissertation Advisor and constituted his/her Dissertation Committee to reflect research interests.  It is assumed that the student will complete most course work during this first year of study. The second year will consist of additional course work, where necessary, research, and final preparation for the Candidacy Examination and the presentation of the Dissertation Proposal. The oral Candidacy Examination and Dissertation Proposal should be completed during the third semester for full-time students, or before completion of five semesters for part-time students. Upon successful presentation of the research proposal, the applicant will be granted Ph.D. Candidacy status.

Sequence and Timing

Prior to first full semester in Ph.D. program.

  • Departmental Placement Examination.

First year in program.

  1. Appropriate course work.
  2. Removal of all deficiencies.
  3. Establishment of Ph.D. Research Committee

Second year in program.

  1. Presenting Research and Dissertation Proposals during the second year
  2. Completion of all formal course work.
  3. Initiation of research.

Third and successive years.

  • Completion and defense of dissertation.

Financial Support for the Students in the Doctoral Program

In accordance with University regulations, a student accepted into the program and offered Departmental support (e.g., Teaching Assistantship (TA) or Research Assistantship (RA)) may receive such support for up to 10 long semesters (5 years) provided the student is deemed to be making adequate progress toward the degree and such resources are available.  It is the goal of the department for students to finish their degree within the shortest possible time in concert with the completion of an acceptable dissertation.  Students must be registered as full time students and may not hold any additional employment while holding a TA or RA.  Progress toward the degree will normally be measured in terms of course work (maintaining at least a B average), elimination of deficiencies, timely selection of a Dissertation Committee, completion of requirements for Candidacy and presentation of a Dissertation Proposal.  After the first two semesters, progress will be evaluated and continued support will be granted on the basis of a favorable review and availability of resources.  The Dissertation Committee will then review the student’s progress, inform the student of their findings, and place a statement in the student’s departmental file in each subsequent semester.

Questions pertaining to specific requirements should be addressed to the Director of Graduate Studies in Geology:

Dr. Thomas Lapen


Advising Assistant:

Ms. Sylvia Marshall