Marine Geology Graduate Programs

Graduate programs in marine geology prepare students for careers in geosciences industries and academia. Read on for admissions information and coursework and research requirements common to these programs.

Graduate work in marine geology focuses on earth science processes that take place within oceans. Students who are particularly interested in marine geology can find programs housed within departments of marine science and geosciences. Degree programs are available at the master's and doctoral levels.

Marine Geology Graduate Program Information

Master's programs in this field often prepare students for careers in the geosciences with government agencies or relevant environmental industries, while Ph.D. programs are typically appropriate for prospective researchers beginning academic careers. In addition to courses like the following, marine geology students can expect to complete extensive independent research.

Introduction to Oceanography

Preliminary courses in marine geology programs investigate fundamental ocean processes. Oceanography classes cover oceans' formation and ecosystems. These classes may also study the impact climate change has on ocean life and processes. Students examine prior research in the field and may analyze case studies related to ocean processes and humans' impact.

Marine Geochemistry

Geochemistry classes examine oceanic chemical processes and their impact, including their role in events like earthquakes and volcanoes. Students enhance their understanding of atomic structures, chemical bonds, and thermodynamics. Specific topics may include geochemical cycling and seawater chemistry. In addition to reviewing prior scholarly research, these classes may incorporate a laboratory component.

Marine Geophysics

Courses in geophysics examine the impact of physics processes on the earth and, in the case of marine geology, the oceans in particular. Students examine the impact of these processes on the formation of ocean basins and current problems related to geophysics. Specific topics usually include gravity and geomagnetism. These courses are sometimes presented in a colloquium format and may include fieldwork.


Programs covering marine geology include an examination of seismic theory and methods. Students learn how and why seismology is used as a method of geological exploration. In addition, they may learn particular approaches to seismic data and imaging, including Fourier methods. Seismology classes may include a laboratory component.


Tectonics classes examine theories related to tectonic plate movements and phenomena. Students gain an advanced understanding of plate structure and evolution over time and, in these graduate programs, tectonics classes may include a focus on oceanic structures. Specific topics often include mantle convection, marginal seas, plate motion, rheology, and seafloor spreading.

Marine Geology Graduate Program Admissions

Applicants to graduate programs in marine geology should submit transcripts showing at least an earned undergraduate degree, and programs may require a minimum undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Competitive applicants often have significant academic experience in chemistry, physics, meteorology, and math.

Completed applications also usually include a statement of purpose, and schools may require applicants to provide an overview of how their research interests connect with the interests of the program's faculty. Additional components of an application usually include GRE scores and letters of recommendation.

Graduate programs focused on marine geology can be found at the master's and doctoral levels, often within schools of marine science or geosciences. These programs include advanced coursework in areas including geophysics, geochemistry, and oceanography, along with significant independent research projects.

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