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Ph.D. Degree Program in Earth System Science

Are you passionate about understanding Global Environmental Change? Join our world-renowned interdisciplinary graduate program in Earth system science. Our recently revamped curriculum maintains a comprehensive core curriculum while offering diverse elective options tailored to student research interests. We train students to become researchers with global perspectives and broad research skills, as well as a high level of expertise in specialized areas.

Program Highlights


For Fall 2021 admission, applications will be reviewed beginning December 1, and admission offers will be made on a rolling basis. Applicants are encouraged to apply by December 1 for the best chance of admission. The final deadline for applications is March 15.

Students with undergraduate degrees in physics, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, computer science, biology, ecology and any field of geophysical or environmental science, including atmospheric science, oceanography, geophysics, and geology are encouraged to apply, as are diverse applicants, including women, LGBTQ+, persons of color, persons with disabilities, and first-generation students. The general background expected of incoming graduate students includes:

  • Undergraduate courses in calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations.

  • One-year sequences of undergraduate physics (calculus based) and chemistry.

Students with undergraduate degrees in other fields are invited to apply, provided they meet the general background standards listed above. Undergraduate courses in atmospheric science, oceanography, and biology are useful but not required as part of the undergraduate background. Students who are unsure if their academic background or training matches the profile described above are encouraged to contact potential advisors.

Additional information about the ESS Graduate Program, can be found at FAQs for the Earth System Science (ESS) Graduate Program.

PH.D Requirements

To obtain a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Earth System Science, students must complete coursework and research requirements. Graduate coursework includes a multidisciplinary curriculum covering physical, chemical and biological aspects of Earth system science. ESS graduate students travel the around the world to conduct research in mountains, forests, oceans, caves, glaciers, laboratories, and climate simulation centers. To learn more, visit Ph.D. requirements.

Awards & Recognition

Our highly decorated graduate students and faculty earn some of the industry’s most prestigious awards and fellowships each year.


Interested in having ESS graduate students talk to your class about climate change? Addressing climate change through Learning, Empowerment, Action and Networking, CLEAN Education was founded on the belief that education is the essential foundation for global climate change solutions. CLEAN Education is a program designed to supplement existing elementary (1st-8th grade) science education. The problems presented by global climate change can seem overwhelming, often leading to apathy and inaction. By combining practical information with a fun, engaging, play-based learning environment, CLEAN Education fosters a positive attitude that empowers children to take meaningful action.


Melanie Nakashini
Student Affairs Manager
Professor Jin-Yi Yu
Vice Chair, Graduate Studies

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