Geological Sciences-Atmospheric Sciences Ph.D.

Use your Academic Bulletin

Students pursuing a graduate degree in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences should use the University Graduate School Academic Bulletin. You must consult with the IU Graduate School Bulletin for official degree requirements and program details. The following is not the official record.

Official requirements for our Ph.D. degree can be found by clicking on the Bulletin below:

2018-19: Earth and Atmospheric Sciences University Graduate School Academic Bulletin
2017-18: Earth and Atmospheric Sciences University Graduate School Academic Bulletin

Information about the Geological Sciences-Atmospheric Sciences Ph.D.

A total of 90 credit hours, including dissertation and 30 credit hours of course work approved for graduate of which a minimum of 20 credit hours must be taken within the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, including formal courses, problems, seminars, techniques, and research.

At least 12 credit hours must come from a list of courses specific to Atmospheric Sciences defined by the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Current courses that satisfy this requirement are the following:

  • G540 Physical Meteorology and Climatology
  • G534 Dynamic Meteorology
  • G537 Advanced Synoptic Meteorology and Climatology
  • G538 Air Pollution Meteorology
  • G556 Wind Power Meteorology
  • G564 Dynamic Meteorology: Boundary-Layer Meteorology
  • G570 Micrometeorology
  • G576 Climate Change Science


Internal or external minor in a related field. These include chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, statistics, sustainable-energy science and environmental sciences.


Each candidate for the Ph.D. degree must pass three distinct examinations

  1. Preliminary examination
  2. Qualifying examination
  3. Defense of dissertation
Preliminary exam

The preliminary exam is taken in the January after matriculation. It consists of a written exam set by the Ph.D. admissions committee (typically the CGS), and a brief interview with the Ph.D. admissions committee. Questions on the written exam require reasoning, integration of geological concepts, demonstration of quantitative skills and elucidation of research ideas. A broad understanding of geological systems, including surficial and deep-earth processes, is expected rather than specialized knowledge in sub-disciplines.

Qualifying exam

The qualifying exam is taken when all coursework, including minor and foreign language or research skill requirements have been completed. It consists of three parts:

  1. Preparation of a research proposal reviewed by the student’s research committee
  2. A written exam set and evaluated by the student’s research committee
  3. An oral examination which includes a formal presentation of the proposed research and discussion of the written exam, proposal, and research plans.

Success in the qualifying exam formally admits a student to Ph.D. candidacy.

Dissertation defense

The dissertation defense consists of three parts:

  1. Public presentation of the dissertation research
  2. An open session of questions and discussion
  3. A rigorous closed oral examination held by the student’s research committee