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The Earth Sciences major at Dickinson is a journey developing independent thought, problem solving, critical thinking, field and lab research skills. This journey produces an earth scientist well prepared for graduate school, especially those in the Geoscience Track.  Most (60%) of ERSC majors eventually go to graduate school as it helps with long-term career advancement.  Some industries (e.g., energy) essentially require it, others (e.g., environmental) strongly encourage it sooner or later.  The M.S. is the typical degree for careers in industry, whereas the Ph.D. is for academic careers.

It is important to talk to your advisor about selecting courses appropriate for graduate school.  Graduate schools typically like to see the following ancillary courses on your transcript:

  • Two semesters of calculus (e.g., MATH 170+171)
  • Two semester of physics (e.g., PHYS 131+132 or 141+142)
  • Two semesters of chemistry (e.g., CHEM 131 or 141 and ERSC 331)


It is important to talk to the faculty in the department about the application process and which schools have strong programs in the various subdisciplines.

It is important to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) by the fall of your senior year.  The GRE is the standardized test for graduate school like the SAT/ACT is for college.  There is no subject-based GRE for the earth sciences. The College’s Quantitative Reasoning Center offers tutoring for preparing for the mathematics part of the GRE.

It is important to reach out to faculty at the universities you are considering.  Unlike undergraduate school where you apply to the institution, in graduate school you are primarily applying to work with a particular professor or research group, less so the institution.  You need to establish relationships with the faculty members you are interested in working with.  One way to do this is by attending professional meetings.  For example, the Geological Society of America (GSA) and the American Geophysical Union (AGU) organize annual fall semester meetings around the country and invite graduate schools to staff booths specifically for meeting with undergraduates.  It is an effective way to talk to lots of graduate faculty.


Check out the graduate school resources at Dickinson’s Career Center including: