Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences faculty conduct multi-disciplinary research projects among many of Rice's science and engineering departments, in particular, Chemistry, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Computational and Applied Mathematics, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. In addition, EEPS hosts the collaborative research center, the Center for Computational Geophysics, and collaborates with other interdepartmental research centers, such as the Energy and Environmental Systems Institute, the Institute for Biosciences and Bioengineering, the Center for the Study of the Environment and Society, the Shell Center for Sustainability, the Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology, and the Center for Lunar Science Exploration.

Program Requirements

Ph.D. students must complete either 60 or 90 credit hours, depending on whether or not they are entering the program with a relevant master’s degree. In the first year, candidates will develop an individualized program of study with their advisors. Doctoral students are also required to take a written preliminary exam covering general earth science knowledge in their second semester. At the end of the second year, students will complete an oral qualifying exam consisting of two projects: one that will become the main thesis, and another that demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct original science. The doctoral thesis must include at least three manuscripts that have been submitted to a recognized peer-review journal with the student as lead author, and at least one of the manuscripts must be in press or published at the time of the thesis defense.

More specific details can be found in the guidelines.

Full-time Ph.D. students receive tuition waivers and a competitive stipend for the duration of their course of study. These are funded through some combination of the school’s substantial endowment, endowed fellowships for graduate students, faculty research grants and teaching assistant appointments. Many of our graduate students also win nationally competitive fellowships.

Apply to the Graduate Program

Any student with a strong interest in the geosciences is encouraged to apply. Many of our faculty received their undergraduate training outside of the geosciences (e.g., physics, chemistry, math, etc.), so we recognize the value of these fundamental disciplines in our field. Unsure if your background is a good fit? Feel free to contact faculty members directly to learn about their research programs.

We do not require GRE scores as part of our application package. However, we believe in allowing every applicant to showcase their academic and research success in whatever form that may take. Your academic record, interests and objectives, and letters of recommendation will be evaluated holistically. Students are encouraged to prepare a thoughtful expression of their goals and prospective plans of study as part of the application form or in an attached letter.

A complete application includes the following:

  1. A completed application form. Click here to create a user account and begin the application process.
  2. Transcripts of all previous college or university work.
  3. TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo scores for foreign students whose language of instruction was not English. The Rice university code is 6609.
  4. Three letters of recommendation .
  5. An application fee of $85. We recognize that this fee can inadvertently discourage competitive applicants from applying, so please reach out to the Graduate and Academic Program Administrator to request a waiver.

All of the above application materials must be received for your application to be considered complete. Missing materials may result in delayed consideration, so we strongly encourage applicants to complete their application before the deadline. Decisions for admission and fellowships begin in October for Spring semester admission and in January for Fall semester admission.

The deadline for spring 2025 applications is October 27th, 2024 (10:59 p.m. CST/11:59 p.m. EST). The deadline for fall 2024 is January 5th, 2024 (10:59 p.m. CST/11:59 p.m. EST).

For more information please contact the Academic and Graduate Program Administrator, Meagan McKellar (


Guidelines for Advanced Degrees in Dept of Earth Science [Click HERE]

For more information, please contact

Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences – MS 126
Rice University
P.O. Box 1892
Houston Texas 77251-1892

Fax: 713-348-5214
Web site:

You can also click here to apply