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Applied Geology - Ph.D.

Applied Geology. Our program offers rigorous coursework, research opportunities, and practical experience in the field, preparing you for a successful career in the industry. With experienced faculty, state-of-the-art facilities, and real-world experiences, you'll gain the skills and knowledge needed to solve complex geology challenges and make a meaningful impact.

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Program Information

Learning Outcomes

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of this program will be able to:

  1. Show in-depth comprehension of several areas, including both basic and applied aspects of geology/earth sciences.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to formulate testable scientific hypotheses and carry out independent research using appropriate field, experimental, analytical and/or computational methods.
  3. Describe, synthesize and interpret the results of a scientific investigation and understand its broader applications.

For more information about graduate admissions, visit the graduate admission website. For more information on international admissions, visit the international admission website.

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited college
  • Minimum 2.750 undergraduate GPA on a 4.000-point scale
  • Official transcript(s)
  • Goal statement
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • English language proficiency - all international students must provide proof of English language proficiency (unless they meet specific exceptions to waive) by earning one of the following:1
    • Minimum 79 TOEFL iBT score
    • Minimum 6.5 IELTS score
    • Minimum 58 PTE score
    • Minimum 110 DET score

International applicants who do not meet the above test scores may be considered for conditional admission.

Application Deadlines

  • Fall Semester
    • Priority deadline: January 15
      Applications submitted by this deadline will receive the strongest consideration for admission.

Program Requirements

Major Requirements

Major Requirements
Additional Requirements28-58
Culminating Requirement
Minimum Total Credit Hours for Post-Baccalaureate Students90
Minimum Total Credit Hours for Post-Master's Students60

Each doctoral candidate, upon admission to candidacy, must register for ESCI 80199 for a total of 30 credit hours. It is expected that a doctoral candidate will continuously register for Dissertation I, and thereafter ESCI 80299, each semester, until all requirements for the degree have been met.

Graduation Requirements

Minimum Major GPA Minimum Overall GPA
- 3.000
  • All students will have a fundamental knowledge and understanding of earth materials by the end of the second year in the program. This will be fulfilled by a lecture and lab course in Earth materials or an equivalent course related to mineralogy and/or petrology as determined by the graduate coordinator.


To be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree, a student must pass comprehensive written and oral examinations prior to the start of the fifth semester after admission to the doctoral program. The comprehensive examinations focus on mastery of the student’s major area of concentration and one minor area, as well as the fundamentals of geology and its allied sciences as appropriate to the student’s proposed dissertation topic. Students who fail the comprehensive examinations may be allowed to repeat them once; this must be completed more than one month after the initial examination, but less than six months thereafter.


All students admitted to the doctoral program must complete two successive semesters of full-time graduate study at Kent State University. During this time they must obtain a minimum of 22 credit hours.

Program Delivery
  • Delivery:
    • In person
  • Location:
    • Kent Campus

Important Dates

There are several deadlines that must be met in order to graduate in a timely fashion. If the student applies for graduation in one term and is delayed in finishing the work, it is necessary to file a re-application in the Office of Graduate Affairs, in the term in which graduation is anticipated. 

Students who have completed coursework and are no longer funded by the department, and are finishing their research, must register for a dissertation, and must be registered in the semester they graduate. Please consult the Graduate Catalog for your enrollment term or the Department office for more information.

Additional Resources

View our list of forms and downloads.

Frequently Asked Questions

What specific coursework must be taken to satisfy the Ph.D. requirements?

Students must take a specific amount of coursework in their minor area. Beyond this, the only specific requirement that must be completed prior to graduation is a dissertation and certain amount of credit hours above the M.S. or B.S. respectively. Specific coursework necessary to prepare the candidate for the dissertation work will be selected on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the faculty advisor and the members of the examination committee. Keep in mind that in addition to the formal courses offered in the department you have the following options available to help you develop the skills you need:

  1. You can take courses at the University of Akron, Cleveland State University, and Youngstown State University through the Memorandum of Understanding, without transfer. This widens your choice of coursework substantially. The approval form must be completed well before you register for your desired course. Discuss this with the Graduate Coordinator and/or your Advisor.
  2. You can take coursework in allied fields; such as GIS or Remote Sensing courses in Geography; the Wetlands, Limnology, and Ecology courses in Biological Sciences; the Environmental Chemistry courses in Chemistry; computer programming courses in Math & Computer Science; or relevant courses in Physics. See the Registrar's website for available courses by semester. Note: Please consult primary advisor before enrolling in cross-discipline coursework. 
How will the composition of my committee change as I progress toward my degree?

The candidacy examination committee consists of three members of the earth sciences graduate faculty: the advisor, the minor advisor, and one general earth sciences examiner. All members of the committee must have the appropriate graduate faculty rank as described in the departmental handbook. The dissertation committee, which evaluates the student's dissertation proposal, consists of the candidacy examination committee, plus an outside member who may be from another department on campus or another institution if approved by the Graduate College. All members of the committee must have the appropriate graduate faculty rank as described in the College of Arts and Sciences Rules Regarding the Final Examination.

Upon completion of the dissertation proposal defense, the dissertation final examination committee is formed which consists of the dissertation committee and a graduate representative appointed by the Office of Graduate Affairs of the College of Arts and Sciences. The graduate representative may also serve as the moderator for the defense, or another individual may be appointed. The guidelines regarding the graduate representative and/or moderator are found in the College of Arts and Sciences Rules regarding the Graduate Faculty Representative and Dissertation Defense Moderator.

Requests for an outside committee member from another institution should be made in writing by the advisor to the graduate coordinator and accompanied by a current version of the CV for the prospective outside member. Such requests must be approved by the Associate Dean of the Graduate College.

Can I transfer geological coursework from another institution?

Yes, you can transfer an amount of credit hours from an accredited institution, as long as the work was done within 10 years of the completion date of your Ph.D. in Geology.

Where can I go to get the Dissertation style guide and the necessary forms I will need as I progress through the program?

The KSU College of Arts & Sciences Style Guide and Instructions for Formatting Theses and Dissertations is available in the main Earth Sciences office. You can also access these materials from this website, or at the appropriate page in the Arts and Sciences website. Libraries and Media Services also provides guidelines for preparing your thesis or dissertation to help you complete the process

How much time do I have to complete my degree?
What Ph.D. Minors are offered?

Please see our information on Ph.D. Minors.

What about my enrollment status?

The Department of Earth Sciences requires all Department and University funded students to be enrolled full-time (at least 8 credits) during the academic year. Students who are not funded by the department are recommended to be enrolled full-time to ensure that they make continued progress toward their degree and to save on tuition and fees by shortening their time to degree.

For additional enrollment requirements consult the University Graduate Catalog.

Examples of Possible Careers and Salaries

Atmospheric, earth, marine, and space sciences teachers, postsecondary


slower than the average


number of jobs


potential earnings

Geoscientists, except hydrologists and geographers


about as fast as the average


number of jobs


potential earnings



faster than the average


number of jobs


potential earnings

Natural sciences managers


about as fast as the average


number of jobs


potential earnings

Notice: Career Information Source
* Source of occupation titles and labor data comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook. Data comprises projected percent change in employment over the next 10 years; nation-wide employment numbers; and the yearly median wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.

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