Geological Sciences

Case Western Reserve University faculty and students at a glacier

About the Program

Whether you’re interested in understanding fossils from long extinct species or invested in meaningful ways to care for our environment, the PhD program in Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences can set you on the path toward your career goals.

As a PhD student, you will be an integral part of our department, collaboratively working with faculty, researchers and other students in your specialized field. Our joint faculty-student environment has proven continuously successful and has allowed us to conduct field research on five continents, performing experiments at world-class facilities. With earth science as a focus, you can explore the history of the earth’s climate, the ecology of living and ancient organisms, and the comparative geology of other planets—all while earning a terminal degree in your field.

What to Expect

Our research-intensive yet flexible curriculum covers an abundance of disciplines such as environmental geochemistry, stable isotopes, meteoritics, planetary geology, planetary geophysics, stratigraphy and sedimentology, paleoclimatology, mineral physics and high-temperature geochemistry. Regardless of your focus, you’ll build an understanding of how the geological sciences incorporate elements from other major scientific realms like biology, chemistry, physics and even the social sciences.

Thanks to our small department size, we have a close-knit mentoring environment that allows you to gain unique preparation for all aspects of academic life at the highest levels. From teaching and proposal preparation to interactions with the public and the pursuit of significant research achievements, we guide you in the best practices that will help you stand out in the future job market. 

We grant research opportunities in field and observational, experimental, computational, and theoretically based disciplines. 

Quick Fact
Research within our department is primarily supported by funding from federal sources, including the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, and the United States Geological Survey. We also receive funding from state sources including the Ohio Coal Research Consortium.

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Beyond the Classroom

After earning your PhD in Geological Sciences, you will be qualified to work in a wide range of environments including colleges and universities; commercial and nonprofit research laboratories; mining, energy, and environmental consulting industries; local state and federal regulatory agencies; federal research laboratories; and museums. Most graduates of our PhD program go on to hold prestigious leadership positions across academia as well as non-academic settings worldwide.

By the Numbers


faculty-to-graduate-student ratio


graduate students at any time


years to degree completion if arriving with a master’s degree


years to degree completion straight from a bachelor’s degree


students receiving full financial support

Admission Requirements

Your coursework background will be evaluated at the time of admission; if you have some deficiencies in your academic preparation, admission may be contingent upon completion of background courses.

When reviewing your profile for admission consideration, we require the following:

  • Completed online application
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose exploring your unique research strengths
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • Resume/CV
  • Non-refundable $50 application fee
  • TOEFL Scores (if applicable)

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