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Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences

With its unique interdisciplinary research opportunities and collegial atmosphere, Brown’s graduate program in Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences is rated among the top programs in the world.

Students have many opportunities to work with a variety of faculty, researchers and scientists, in part through our collaborations with the Institute at Brown for Environment, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography. In addition, students gain invaluable communication and teaching skills through programs at the University’s Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning as well as regular meetings with their advisory committees, assisting the faculty with classes and labs, and presentations of their research during weekly informal “lunch bunches” and at national meetings.

Our internationally known faculty engage in externally supported research in five primary areas:

  • Structure and dynamics of the solid Earth
  • Properties and processes of geological materials
  • Earth system history and global change
  • Planetary geosciences
  • Environmental sciences

The Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences department is known on campus as being open and friendly. Our faculty guide a diverse pool of 40-50 graduate students in a collaborative and fun learning environment. Peer units at other universities include Caltech, MIT, WHOI, Stanford, and Washington University.

Additional resources: Environmental and Earth System studies: Field and laboratory equipment for lake sediment and soil sampling, coring and analysis; Brown Global Foraminifer and North American pollen databases; gas isotope ratio mass spectrometers for carbonate and organic samples; gas chromatograph-mass spectrometers; accelerated solvent extractors for organic samples; CHNS analyzers; X-ray fluorescence analysis facility; Jobin ICP-ES; particle size counter, estuarine oceanography equipment. Planetary studies: RELAB spectroscopy database of spectra of lunar and meteoritic materials; visible to mid-IR spectroscopy (multiuser facility supported by NASA); NASA Planetary Data Center, including image data from all major planetary missions; image-processing laboratories. 

Geophysical studies: Seismic, magnetic gradiometric, and DC resisitivity instrumentation; ground penetrating radar; rotary shear apparatus to study frictional sliding; high P and T solid and gas medium deformation apparatus; optical and electron microscopy facilities including EBSD (Electron Backscatter Diffraction); multi-purpose network of UNIX workstations and minicomputers linked to local servers, central computing facility, national networks, and supercomputing facilities. 

Mineralogy, Petrology, Geochemistry studies: Solid-source and isotope ratio mass spectrometers; electron microprobe; high temperature-high pressure deformation apparatus; ion microprobe (owned/operated by consortium of universities).

Completion Requirements
Ph.D.: Ten to 14 courses beyond the bachelor’s degree; preliminary examination; one semester of teaching, dissertation, and oral defense.

Admission Information
Admission requirements: All faculty members from each of our research groups meet to consider all applications. They look at: (1) undergraduate preparation (including overall GPA, GPA trajectory, and rigor of courses), (2) letters of recommendation, (3) GRE test scores, (4) personal statement, and, if appropriate, (5) proof of language proficiency. No single factor outweighs the others; rather each group attempts to arrive at a "balanced" assessment of academic and professional promise.

GRE General: Required
GRE Subject: Not required
Application deadline: January 15