Graduate Program

The Department of Geoscience offers two graduate degrees: 
 
Geoscience PhD Program

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Geoscience is designed to prepare students for demanding research-oriented careers in academia, government service, private consulting, and industry. Working closely with their advisor, students focus on original research in one of three emphasis areas: geology, hydrology, or soil science. Research expectations are high; students are expected to develop original lines of research that will lead to three or more original manuscripts that are suitable for submission to a refereed scientific journal. Students are expected to have strong content knowledge in their area of emphasis and three additional sub-disciplines of the geologic sciences. Fundamental knowledge levels are tested first in a diagnostic interview that is used to guide coursework taken by the student, and then later in a comprehensive exam.

Career Opportunities
Students who complete the PhD in Geology are suited for academic faculty positions, research, or management-level jobs in environmental consulting, energy exploration, mining, state or federal government agencies. The specialization that occurs in the PhD process often determines the range of careers available to a graduate. Working on cutting-edge science in a university, government agency, or teaching at the university level requires a PhD.

Learning Outcomes


1. Demonstrate the ability to define a research problem by identifying questions and formulating testing hypotheses.

2. Demonstrate an understanding of scientific ethics.

3. Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of scientific literature for work relevant to research projects.

4. Demonstrate the ability to conduct field and laboratory research related to dissertation projects.

5. Demonstrate a broad knowledge on the subjects closely related to the field of specialization.

6. Demonstrate the ability to do original and creative research.

7. Demonstrate the ability to design and carry a substantial independent research project through to completion

8. Demonstrate the ability to present scientific results to the audience of the scientific community and the general public.

9. Demonstrate the ability to prepare publications and submit them to peer-reviewed journals.

10. Demonstrate an excellent knowledge of at least one field of specialization.


Geoscience MS Program

The Masters of Science degree in Geoscience is designed to prepare students for a broad range of challenging careers in government service, private consulting, and industry. This thesis-based degree program also serves as a stepping-stone for those students who wish to pursue further graduate studies at the Doctoral level. Working closely with their advisor, students focus on original research in one of several areas of specialization, including: petrology, volcanology, economic geology, structural geology, sedimentology, geochemistry, hydrology, soil science, climate change, petroleum geology, and paleontology. Students are expected to develop original research suitable for submission to a refereed scientific journal. Students are expected to have strong content knowledge in their area of emphasis, which is tested during the culminating  defense of their thesis research.

Career Opportunities
Students who complete the MS in Geology are ideally suited for mid to management-level jobs in environmental consulting, energy exploration, mining, state or federal government agencies. The MS is the professional degree for geoscientists, and the salary for this level is the highest across all sub-disciplines. The jobs for MS-level geologists can range from field-based work such as geologic mapping, to computer modeling, to corporate management. Industries and agencies often provide additional training to MS-level geologists that allows them to perform specialized work, but the educational experience students gain with an MS is sufficient for immediately entering the workforce at mid to high-level positions. Most employers who hire at this level are looking for some amount of specialization (e.g. hydrologist, geophysicist, geochemist, structural geologist), although possessing a well-rounded geoscience education is often attractive for most industries/agencies.

Learning Outcomes


1. Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation for scientific inquiry / scientific method

2. Demonstrate the ability to define and frame a research problem, including hypothesis

3. Demonstrate the ability to search existing scientific literature for work relevant to a specific problem

4. Demonstrate the ability to execute problem-specific skills at an advanced level

5. Demonstrate the ability to design and carry a substantial independent research project through to completion

6. Demonstrate the ability to successfully present the results of a scientific inquiry in both oral and written formats.

Graduate Catalog in Geoscience


Geoscience Graduate Student Guidelines

For more information regarding Graduate College forms and deadlines, visit: http://graduatecollege.unlv.edu/forms.



Nevada is an amazing place to earn an undergraduate degree in Geology. Besides Nevada's (and the region's) amazing scenery and natural resources, UNLV's Geoscience Department is one of the top Geoscience programs in the West.

We cooperate with numerous local, state, and federal agencies in Nevada, California, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. We also work in several nations overseas. And Las Vegas is pretty cool too!

Within an hour of the campus you can hike, raft, kayak, backpack, camp, attend music festivals, eat amazing food, be in 3 different states, and 2 different deserts. We are 2 hours from Death Valley National Park, 4 hours from Grand Canyon National Park, 2 hours from Zion National Park, 3 hours from Bryce Canyon National Park, 30 minutes from Lake Mead National Recreation Area, 30 minutes from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and 55 minutes from Valley of Fire State Park. We also have this little 3,632 m (11,918 ft) mountain next to town that has a ski area.