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Graduate Study in Earth and Environmental Sciences

Ours is a vibrant, cohesive department practicing at the highest standards of scholarship. Faculty and students work together at the doctoral or masters-to-doctoral levels to pursue studies that address fundamental questions in the Earth and environmental sciences, spanning deep geological timescales to human and societal timescales. The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences offers the following graduate degrees:

The Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Sciences

The Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Sciences provides comprehensive training for students who wish to become professional scientists and/or to teach Earth and environmental sciences at the university level. This is generally a five-year program and includes full funding. The Ph.D. program is for students with a M.S. degree or whom are aimed specifically at the Ph.D. Note that all students without an M.S. degree will earn the M.S. as part of the Ph.D. curriculum. EES accepts Ph.D. applicants directly from undergraduate study as well as applicants who have already completed a M.S. degree in the field. 

The M.S. to Ph.D. Pathway in Earth and Environmental Sciences

The M.S. in Earth and Environmental Sciences is a two-year, research-intensive program for students seeking a M.S. degree, with at least an interest in continuing into the Ph.D. program. EES is not currently recruiting students who seek only a terminal M.S. Please inquire if you are unsure which program to apply to.



Applying to the EES Program

Application is made to the Graduate School. We encourage students to view the Graduate School Catalog and apply via the Graduate School Online Application. The deadline for receipt of graduate applications is January 1st. Applications to EES may be accepted at a later date, but financial aid decisions are generally made in late January. Applications received by the deadline therefore have the best chance of success. When applying to our program, you should also contact the professor(s) with whom you would like to work. 

As part of our effort to create a more equitable application process and to increase access to graduate education in the geosciences, we have instituted the following policies with support of the Vanderbilt Graduate School:

  • The $95 application fee will be reduced to $20 for all applicants and the reduction will be automatically applied upon submission of your application. (Please proceed to the submission page to see the fee reduced to $20)
  • The GRE exam requirement has been eliminated from the graduate application and will not be considered in our evaluation process. 

NOTE: In Vanderbilt’s online application system, applicants for the graduate program in EES should select Natural Sciences & Mathematics as your Area of Study and Earth and Environmental Sciences as your Program

You will need to submit a statement of purpose as part of your application and the application prompt is relatively general. We are providing the following prompt as guidance for the statement of purpose:

“Pursuing graduate studies in science requires that students continually make use of their curiosity, creativity, and perseverance. Please describe your personal development in relation to these qualities, broadly or through specific experiences. Please also discuss what motivates you to pursue graduate study, including your research interests, and why Vanderbilt EES would be a good intellectual fit for you.”

Applicants whose native language is not English must present the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) with the application. This requirement may be waived if you have earned a degree from an English-speaking institution. If applicable, please contact Tori Taylor to apply for a waiver once you have already started your application. With your waiver request, please include your country of origin and name of most recent degree institution. Due to the ongoing pandemic, our department will also accept Duolingo English Test examination results for the 2022-2023 application cycle.

For more information or to set up a Zoom meeting, please contact Tori Taylor, our Graduate Program Coordinator, at