MS in Geology

Northern Arizona University lies in the unparalleled setting of the southern Colorado Plateau near the:

  • San Francisco Peaks
  • Grand Canyon
  • red rocks of Sedona

Within two hours’ drive of the university are superb rocks and deposits ranging in age from Proterozoic to Quaternary. Research problems abound involving:

  • sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks
  • stratigraphy, structure, and volcanology
  • surficial processes
  • water resources

Financing your education

All applicants are automatically considered for graduate assistantships—we typically offer 8-10 to incoming students each year. In addition, faculty who have interest in specific applicants may offer funding from grants to support research assistantships or other research costs.

Our short list will be reviewed by representatives from the US Geological Survey Flagstaff Field Center, who may extend offers of summer employment, or offer to support thesis research by providing research appointments and covering research expenses.

Requirements for admission to the Geology Graduate Program

To be considered for admission to graduate study in Geology, an applicant must meet the following minimum undergraduate grade point averages: 

  • at least 2.75 for all course work;
  • at least 3.00 for all geology courses;
  • at least 2.50 for all supporting course work in calculus, physics, and chemistry. 

In addition, students must score a minimum of 50% on the General part of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and supply three confidential letters of recommendation from former professors, supervisors, or employers. Finally, all incoming students must have completed the equivalent of the Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology at NAU.  The required courses are:

  • Physical Geology                               
  • Historical Geology
  • Mineralogy
  • Petrology
  • Structural Geology
  • Sedimentology/Stratigraphy
  • Summer Field Camp
  • 1 year each of Calculus, Chemistry and Physics

Students who have not completed the above courses will be considered deficient and are required to remove these deficiencies before being formally admitted to the program. Deficiencies must be removed during the first year of residency (2 semesters and 1 summer). Exception to the above requirements can be made only by two-thirds majority vote of the Geology faculty. Students may be admitted to graduate study in one of the following classifications: (1) Graduate Regular status (granted to a student who has met all of the above requirements), or (2) Graduate Provisional status (granted to a student who has met the grade point and GRE requirements but has not completed all the course requirements listed above). Graduate Regular status will be granted automatically when all deficient courses are completed. It is your responsibility to comply with the terms of your admissions. Admission to graduate study at NAU is not equivalent to admission to the program.


Apply online at the Graduate College.  The application deadline is January 15 each year for admission in the Fall semester of the same year.