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DEGREE Geological Engineering, PhD

Doctoral degree in geological engineering

As a PhD student in geological engineering, you’ll collaborate with faculty from a variety of disciplines as you deepen your expertise through applied research. You’ll also enhance your ability to design within the constraints of geology or geologic processes.

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Learn more about what information you need to apply.


Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline December 15
Spring Deadline September 1
Summer Deadline December 15
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not exclusively in English, must provide an English proficiency test score earned within two years of the anticipated term of enrollment. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Requirements for Admission policy:
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Application Process and Requirements

All applicants must meet the Graduate School’s admission requirements to be considered for admission. Departmental admission is by committee review.  Applications submitted after the fall deadline through March 15 will be reviewed if complete and will be considered for admission by the program is space is still available. To check if space is available, please email:

In addition, applicants must also meet the department’s requirements listed below to be considered for admission:


A minimum undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours (approximately two years of work) or a master’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 is required. Applicants from an international institution must demonstrate strong academic achievement comparable to a 3.00 for an undergraduate or master’s degree. The Graduate School will use your institution’s grading scale. Do not convert your grades to a 4.00 scale.


A bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program or from a recognized international institution is preferred or bachelor’s degree in physical sciences. Admission to the program requires approval of the admissions committee.


Funded offers for MS (research) and PhD students, in the form of research assistantships, project assistantships, and/or teaching assistantships come directly from individual faculty members.   Please contact interested faculty before or after you have applied to inquire about assistantship opportunities. Funding is not guaranteed with admission.

Complete Application

A complete graduate application is required before an application will be reviewed by the faculty. A complete graduate application contains the following:

Graduate School Application

Applicants must submit an online application to the UW–Madison Graduate School. See Graduate School Admissions to apply.

Statement of Purpose

Submit a statement of purpose of 1,000 words or less in the online application. This statement should cover your technical areas of interest, coursework emphasis, research experience, professional goals, faculty members you are interested in working with, and any other items relevant to your qualifications for graduate school.  See the Graduate School for additional guidelines for the Statement of Purpose (scroll to bottom of page).

Three Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation must be submitted through the online application. These letters should be from people who can judge the applicant’s academic, research, and/or work performance.  See the Graduate School for FAQs regarding these letters.

Academic Transcripts

Upload the most recent copies of your transcripts to the online application, from each institution attended.  Study abroad transcripts are not required if coursework is reflected on the degree granting university’s transcript. Unofficial copies of transcripts are used for departmental review. If the applicant is recommended for admission, then the Graduate School will follow-up with instructions for official transcript submission. Please do not send transcripts or any other application materials to the Graduate School or the Department unless requested.

Resume/Curriculum Vitae

Upload your most recent resume or curriculum vitae in the online application.

English Proficiency Score

Applicants whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score. Scores are accepted if they are within two years of the start of the admission term. Self-reported exam information is acceptable during departmental review; however, if you are recommended for admission, official test scores must be sent directly to the Graduate School from the testing body. See Graduate School Admission Requirements for more information on the English proficiency requirement. (NOTE: TOEFL scores may be sent electronically via ETS using institution code 1846)

Application Fee

A one-time application fee is required.  See the Graduate School frequently asked questions for fee information.  Fee grants are offered by the Graduate School on a limited basis and under certain conditions, as outlined here.  The department does not offer an application fee waiver due to the large volume of applications received.  However, if you are working with a specific faculty member, then they may offer you a fee voucher.


Tuition and segregated fee rates are always listed per semester (not for Fall and Spring combined).

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Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Financial support is available through fellowships, project/program assistantships (PA), research assistantships (RA), and teaching assistantships (TA). Faculty will contact successful applicants directly regarding funding opportunities. Admission is not a guarantee of funding.

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Minimum graduate school requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 26 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy:
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Refer to the Graduate School: Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement policy:
Other Grade Requirements n/a
Assessments and Examinations Doctoral students are required to complete a qualifying exam to demonstrate a sufficient depth and breadth of knowledge in their major to pursue original research, usually after the first year of study. Students must consult with their advisor and/or the exam coordinator in the major area of study for the schedule and specific procedures.

Doctoral students are required to take a comprehensive preliminary/oral examination after they have cleared their record of all Incomplete and Progress grades (other than research and thesis). In order to qualify for the preliminary examination, students must have completed 32 credits in residence and their PhD minor/certificate.

Deposit of the doctoral dissertation in the Graduate School is required.
Language Requirements No language requirements.
Graduate School Breadth Requirement All doctoral students are required to complete a doctoral minor or graduate/professional certificate. Refer to the Graduate School: Breadth Requirement in Doctoral Training policy:

Students will discuss requirement options with faculty advisor. Courses must be approved before, or by the time, the student has completed 6 of the total credits for the doctoral minor or graduate/professional certificate.

Required Courses

The academic program for each Geological Engineering doctoral student is planned on an individual basis with their advisor.

Basic requirements for a PhD degree in Geological Engineering include:

  1. PhD major coursework
  2. Qualifying examination
  3. Breadth coursework
  4. Preliminary examination
  5. Dissertation research
  6. Final oral examination (dissertation defense).

The Graduate School minimum PhD credit requirement is 51 credits. 32 credits and the breadth requirement must be completed prior to achieving dissertator status (for students who have earned an MS degree, credits accumulated for the MS can be applied toward this requirement).

All graduate students (including PhD dissertation students) must register for G L E 900 Seminar once per academic year.

Admission Inquiries
3182 Mechanical Engineering Building
1513 University Ave., Madison, WI 53706
College of Engineering Admissions

Hiroki Sone, Director of Graduate Study

Jim Tinjum, GLE Program Director

View the Graduate Guide for program-specific information on admission, coursework, policies, rules and regulations.

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