Graduate applications are due January 1st
We will be reducing our graduate application fee to $20 later this fall, feel free to begin the application as soon as possible but wait to submit until we have reduced the price.
Ours is a vibrant, cohesive department aimed at the highest standards of scholarship. Faculty and students at the master's and doctoral levels pursue studies that address fundamental questions in the Earth and environmental sciences, spanning deep geological timescales to human timescales. Students in Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) may pursue the following degrees:
- Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Sciences
- M.S. in Earth and Environmental Sciences
- Ph.D. in Environmental Science through the joint program option of Environmental Engineering
The Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in EES is administered by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. The Ph.D. program in Environmental Science is jointly administered by the Departments of EES and Civil and Environmental Engineering. Information relevant to both degrees is covered on this page. In addition, the link above provides a more complete description of the Environmental Science option, including degree requirements, admission, financial aid, and interdisciplinary research opportunities in this one-of-a-kind program in the nation.
Our research programs are well-funded; projects are supported by ample laboratory facilities and instrumentation, including computational infrastructure, and they are topically and geographically diverse. Areas of emphasis in graduate studies and research include the following (see Research page for more information): Transport phenomena; sedimentary processes; paleoecology and coupled physical-biological processes; magmatic processes and crustal evolution; and geochemical processes. Current projects are underway in many parts of the U.S., Asia, South America and Antarctica, and include field, laboratory, analytical and modeling components.
This combination of active research on a wide range of problems, and close and enthusiastic interaction among faculty and graduate students, provides an ideal intellectual setting for pursuing graduate studies. The Department's relatively small size contributes to personalized, engaging classes and a close-knit atmosphere.
Admission and Financial Aid
Application is made to the Graduate School. We encourage students to view the Graduate School Catalog and apply via the Graduate School Online Application. Transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and general aptitude GRE scores are required. The deadline for receipt of graduate applications is January 1st. Applications to EES may be accepted at a later date, but financial aid decisions are generally made in late January. Applications received by the deadline therefore have the best chance of success.
NOTE: In Vanderbilt's online application system, applicants for the Ph.D. or M.S. program in EES should select Natural Sciences & Mathematics as your Area of Study and Earth and Environmental Sciences as your Program. For applicants to the Joint EES-CEE Ph.D. program, you must select Engineering as your Area of Study, then Environmental Engineering as your Program, and finally Environmental Resources and Geologic Processes as one of your Interests.
Graduate students admitted to the PhD program are supported by a University Graduate Fellowship that provides an annual 12-month stipend of $30,000 for a period of 5 years (PhD only), as well as full tuition and health insurance. Our policy is generally only to admit students to whom we can provide full support. Students having independent funding should contact the Director of Graduate Studies before applying. In rare cases where students are admitted without full support, tuition is charged for courses on a per-semester hour basis (~$1600/hour).
The Process and Outcome of Graduate Studies
The Department excels in terms of the product of its graduate program: well-trained students who produce important research and go on to successful careers in the Earth and environmental sciences and related fields. Our students present their results at national and international meetings and publish their work in major journals (see listings under faculty publications). The Ph.D. program is designed around a flexible curriculum wherein candidates' programs of study are tailored to their specialty areas and career goals.
Students completing their graduate degrees at Vanderbilt excel in their careers in the Earth and environmental sciences. Our graduates are have been very successful at landing exciting and rewarding jobs in the Geosciences.
Where are our recent PhD graduates?
|Year graduated||Current Position|
|2019||Assistant Professor, Wofford College|
|2018||Post-doctoral fellow, University of Florida|
|2018||Post-doctoral fellow, Arizona State University|
|2017||Assistant Professor, Radford University|
|2016||Clastics Geologist, Shell Corporation|
|2015||Assistant Professor, Illinois State University|
|2014||Research Associate, Oklahoma Museum of Natural History|
|2014||Assistant Professor, Stanford University|
|2014||Assistant Professor, Hanover College|
|2014||Assistant Professor, Lafayette College|
|2013||Associate at Abt Associates|
|2013||Assistant Professor, East Carolina University, Coastal Studies Inst.|
|2012||Post-doctoral fellow, NASA Lunar Planetary Institute|
|2011||Senior Lecturer, Vanderbilt University|
|2010||Assistant Professor, California State University, Fresno|
|2007||Senior Research Scientist, Arizona State University|
|2006||Tenured Professor at University of Edinburgh|
Curriculum and Degree Requirements
Thirty hours of graduate credit and a research thesis are required for the M.S. degree. The Ph.D. involves 72 credit hours (with a minimum of 36 credit hours in formal coursework, with many of the remaining hours as dissertation research); transfer credit can include up to 24 credit hours for relevant graduate coursework. A student’s program of study is fairly flexible. It is planned by the student in consultation with, and approved by, the Director of Graduate Studies and a Supervisory Committee. All graduate students are expected to have a sufficient background in supporting sciences and mathematics as well as in undergraduate Earth science; some make-up work is permitted. Students pursuing the M.S. degree take most of their courses in the first year and spend summers and much of their second year completing the thesis. Similarly, Ph.D. students take a majority of their formal courses during the first two years and focus primarily on research during their summers and subsequent years.