Skip to main content

Graduate Studies



Graduate applications are due January 1st - For more information or to set up a recruiting Zoom call, please contact our program coordinator, Chantry Carroll (he/him) at 

*New steps toward a more equitable and inclusive graduate application process*

  • the  $95 application fee will be reduced to $20 for all applicants  -- the reduction will be automatically applied upon submission of your application. 
  • the  GRE exam requirement has been eliminated  from the graduate application and will not be considered in our evaluation process. 

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

Diversity and Inclusion 

Faculty, staff, and students of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences are committed to the principles of a diverse and inclusive academic community.  We value all backgrounds and perspectives, particularly as they contribute to our shared goals for quality research, education, and professional development. Our program actively fosters an inclusive environment and has established several new programs with this aim – these include a Vanderbilt chapter of Association for Women Geoscientists, a new partnership with Tennessee State University called Earth Horizons that builds geoscience career pathways for minority students, and our faculty leaders hosting an Earth Educators’ Rendezvous workshop to broaden participation of underrepresented minorities in the geosciences.  These department level activities are complemented by college level efforts through the Russell G. Hamilton Graduate Leadership Institute.

Vanderbilt EES is second to none at ensuring you feel welcome, included, and an essential contributor to the community.  We cannot wait for you to join us!


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.

new zealand


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.2009 Nevada 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 Research Scientist, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center
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.


For More Information Contact:

Chantry Carroll, 
Program Coordinator


PMB 351805
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37235-1805