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Geological Sciences, Ph.D.

College of Arts and Sciences

Join a vibrant and friendly academic environment, and prepare for a future leadership position in industry, government and academia in the fields of geology, geophysics, geochemistry and ocean science.

Our doctoral students conduct independent, original scientific research to gain understanding of the fundamental principles and practices related to primary areas of the earth and/or ocean sciences. Successful defense of a written dissertation is required, and all students will complete comprehensive exams and submit for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Program Highlights

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    Field Experience

    Gain an abundance of hands-on experience in laboratory, computational and/or field methods.

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    Teaching & Education

    Inspire the next generation of scientists thanks to unique coursework and research opportunities in geoscience education.

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    Leading Labs

    Join cutting-edge research using plasma-source mass spectrometers at the Center for Elemental Mass Spectrometry.

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    A Supportive Faculty

    Learn from our large and diverse faculty, which boasts broad scientific expertise in a variety of specializations.

What You’ll Study

Generate original research that incorporates discipline-specific scientific methodology, quantitative problem-solving skills, equipment utilization and experimental or numerical techniques in the laboratory and/or in the field.

Building Skills

Gain the professional and personal intelligence it takes to have a successful career.

  • Data Simulation

    Using mathematical or statistical models to replicate real-world scenarios and predict outcomes

    Laboratory Research

    Conducting experiments and analyzing data to gain new knowledge and insights in a scientific field

    Data Analysis

    Examining and interpreting information to uncover insights and inform decision making

  • Scientific Writing

    Communicating scientific research and findings in a clear, accurate and compelling manner

    Analytical Reasoning

    Breaking down complex problems or situations to identify patterns, connections and solutions


    Gathering and analyzing information to increase knowledge or solve problems

Using your degree

Make your college experience the foundation for a successful future.

Learn how alumni use degrees with outcome data from Gamecock GradStats, a service of the University of South Carolina Career Center.

Potential Careers

  • Geologist
  • Educator
  • Researcher
  • Director
  • Administrator
  • Consultant

Job Titles of Alumni

  • Geologist
  • Assistant Professor
  • Adjunct Professor

Average Alumni Salary

Five to 10 years after graduation without additional education $77,683

Workplace Settings

  • Government (federal, state, and local)
  • Critical Minerals Industry
  • Energy Sector
  • Environmental Consulting
  • Academia
  • Geoscience Leadership Positions

Employers of Alumni

  • ExxonMobil
  • S.C. Department of Natural Resources
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • NOAA - Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing Program

The training, mentorship and networking opportunities I received during my graduate studies were essential to becoming an independent researcher and to find my current employment. My postdoc in Germany was the direct continuation of a collaboration I started during my Ph.D. at USC.

Paul Beguelin
Portrait of Paul Beguelin

Is USC Right For You?

There are many reasons we could be your ideal university. There's the award-winning academics, the globally modeled student life, and abundance of study abroad and experiential learning options. Take a closer look at what USC could mean for you.

Degree content is provided for informational purposes only. The Academic Bulletin is the source of record for all degree information.