Degree Programs Offered

  • B.A. and B.S. in Earth Science, Environmental Science or Planetary Science
  • Professional Master’s Program in Subsurface Geoscience
  • M.S. and Ph.D. in Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences

Graduate Student Program of Study

What to expect as a M.S. or Ph.D. student

Our graduate students come to Rice from all walks of life with a variety of life experiences. What binds us together is our passion for the natural world and a desire to understand it. As a graduate student, you will expand the frontiers of knowledge first-hand, together with your classmates and our world-class research faculty, using state-of-the-art techniques. Whether you want to study the atmosphere, oceans, crust, mantle, or core―of Earth or other planets―you will be excited by what our department has to offer.

Original research is at the core of the M.S. and Ph.D. graduate degree programs. Graduate students typically take classes during their first year while developing an individualized program of study with their thesis committee and research advisor(s). This program can include elements both inside and outside the department, depending on the student’s interests. More specific details can be found in the guidelines below. If you still have a question, please contact the Graduate Admissions Coordinator.

Full-time M.S. and Ph.D. students typically receive tuition waivers and stipends for the entire duration of their course of study. These are funded through some combination of the school’s substantial endowment, endowed fellowships for graduate students, and faculty research grants. Also, many of our graduate students win nationally competitive fellowships.

For more details on the specific department requirements, please see the current department guidelines.

What to expect after an M.S. or Ph.D.

Our graduates go on to a variety of careers, from academia to the energy industry and beyond. Here are some examples of recent career paths:

  • Oil and gas industry
    • Applied Geologist, BP
    • Geologist, Marathon Oil Corporation
    • Geologist, Chevron
  • Geotechnical and environmental services
    • Soil Data Scientist, Arva Intelligence
    • Project Geologist, Terracon
  • Science communication
    • Communication and Projects Administrator, MIT School of Science
    • Science Journalist, China Science Daily
  • Academia
    • NSF Earth Science Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado, Boulder
    • Assistant Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
    • Assistant Professor, University of Arizona
  • Government research
    • Environmental Field Geologist, US Army Corps of Engineers
    • Research Scientist, Department of Energy
    • Geologic Map Editor, U.S. Geological Survey
  • Entrepreneurship
    • Feasible, Inc. (Battery inspection and metrology using ultrasound)

Applying to the Graduate Program

How to apply

The application deadline for fall 2022 has passed.

Any student with a strong interest in the geosciences is encouraged to apply. Many of our faculty received their undergraduate training outside of the geosciences (e.g., physics, chemistry, math, etc.), so we recognize the value of these fundamental disciplines in our field. Unsure if your background is a good fit? Feel free to contact faculty members directly to learn about their research programs.

The EEPS department does not require scores from the Graduate Record Examination. Submitted GRE scores will not be used to evaluate applicants. Instead, your academic record, interests and objectives, and letters of recommendation will be evaluated holistically. Students are encouraged to prepare a thoughtful expression of their goals and prospective plans of study as part of the application form or in an attached letter.

A complete application includes the following:

  1. A completed application form.
  2. Transcripts of all previous college or university work.
  3. TOEFL scores for foreign students whose language of instruction was not English. The Rice university code is 6609.
  4. Three letters of recommendation .
  5. An application fee of $85. We recognize that this fee can inadvertently discourage competitive applicants from applying, so please reach out to the Graduate and Academic Program Administrator to request a waiver.

All of the above application materials must be received for your application to be considered complete. Missing materials may result in delayed consideration, so we strongly encourage applicants to complete their application before the deadline. Decisions for admission and fellowships begin in October for Spring 2021 admission and in January for Fall 2021 admission.

The deadline for Spring 2022 applications is October 28th, 2022 (11:59 p.m. CST)The deadline for Fall 2022 is January 6th, 2023 (11:59 p.m. CST). 

For more information please contact the Academic and Graduate Program Administrator, Meagan McKellar at

Information for Arriving Students

Life in Houston

For more information, please contact

Department of Earth Science – MS 126
Rice University
P.O. Box 1892
Houston Texas 77251-1892

Fax: 713-348-5214
Web site:


2019-2020 Guidelines for Advanced Degrees in Dept of Earth Science [PDF]

For more information, please contact

Department of Earth Science – MS 126
Rice University
P.O. Box 1892
Houston Texas 77251-1892

Fax: 713-348-5214
Web site: