Masters of Geophysics Degree Program - University of Houston
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Masters of Geophysics Degree Program

The Department of Geosciences offers a wide range of courses leading to the Degree of Master of Science in both Geology and Geophysics. Applicants to the Master's of Science Program must have earned a Bachelor's Degree or its equivalent. Applicants to graduate school will be evaluated based upon their Grade Point Average (GPA), Graduate Record Exams (GRE) scores, and letters of recommendation. A GPA of 3.0 or better in the last 60 hours and commensurate scores on the verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing sections of the GRE is generally considered acceptable for admission. GRE score must be at least 1100 for verbal and math section together and 3.0 for analytical writing. Individuals with a lower GPA but elevated GREs may also be admitted. Letters of recommendation are also given considerable weight in the evaluation process. All non-native English-speaking students must take the TOEFL examination and receive a score of 550 or better for the paper exam, 213 or better for the computer exam, and 79 or better for the internet-based exam.

Submit all online graduate applications to Please ensure that you have asked ETS to submit your GRE and TOEFL scores to UH using code 6870. Also, for reference letter purposes, ensure that you have included 3 names and emails on your application.

Have original transcripts mailed to:

University of Houston
Graduate Admissions
P.O. Box 3947
Houston, TX 77253-3947

Questions pertaining to application documents, procedure, and status should be addressed to the advising assistant, Jim Parker (
Questions pertaining to academic program and requirements should be addressed to the graduate advisor, John Castagna (


All students: Complete applications for Fall semester admissions must be submitted for review no later than February 1. Complete applications for Spring semester admissions must be submitted for review no later than September 1. All of the required forms (letters, scores and original transcripts) must be received by our departmental office by the deadlines stated above. The Robert and Margaret Sheriff SEG Fellowship is available for first year international students.

Do NOT send any material to the office of admissions!

Background Requirements

To ensure a common background for students in the Geophysics MS program, students will take or have successfully completed course work equivalent to the following courses:

  • GEOL 1330 (Physical Geology)
  • GEOL 1130 (Physical Geology Laboratory)
  • GEOL 3340 (Geologic Field Methods)
  • GEOL 3345 (Structural Geology)
  • GEOL 4330 (Introduction to Geophysics)
  • MATH 3331 (Differential Equations)
  • MATH 3363 (Intro. to Partial Differential Equations)
  • MATH 3364 (Intro. to Complex Analysis)

Substitution of courses equivalent to those listed above as well as waivers of requirements will be considered on an individual basis. Applicants with a few deficiencies can satisfy those requirements while also taking graduate courses at the University of Houston. It is normally recommended that a student with 6 or more deficiency courses, e.g., those whose undergraduate degree is in another discipline, consider working toward a second undergraduate degree in Geophysics prior to graduate work.


A minimum of 30 credit hours is required for the M.S. degree in Geophysics, 6 of which are thesis hours. All students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with all rules, regulations, etc., of the University, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Department of Geosciences and for meeting all requirements. Applicants are encouraged to review the detailed requirements for the M.S. degree posted here. Application forms for admission as well as financial support can be found on the degree programs page.

To provide a fundamental background in the essential elements of geophysics, all students are required to take the following 4 courses:

  • GEOL 7330 (Potential Field Methods of Geophysical Exploration)
  • GEOL 7341 (Geophysical Data Processing)
  • GEOL 7333 (Seismic Wave and Ray Theory)
  • GEOL 6397 (Rock Physics)

Students are encouraged to make their selections for other graduate courses after consultation with their thesis or graduate advisor.

Non-Thesis Option for M.S. Students in Geophysics

Non-thesis M.S. students must complete 39 credit hours for the degree. The hours can be 36 for formal course work and 3 for a research capstone project or can be all  course work (i.e. 13 formal 3-hr courses). With approval of the Graduate Advisor,  9 of the 39 hours can be 4000 level or above courses from the EAS or other departments in NSM or Engineering. The rest of 30 hours must consist of 6000 level or above EAS courses.

In order to ensure breadth, each student is required to take the 4 core courses, (seismic wave and ray theory, rock physics, geophysics data processing, and potential field).

An average of B must be maintained in courses taken for graduate credit. A grade of C+ or lower in 4 courses (12 hours) renders the student ineligible for any advanced degree at the University of Houston.

After completion of 18 hours of course work including the 4 core courses, students with a GPA of 3.4 and higher and demonstrated abilities to conduct research may petition to be admitted to a thesis based degree. In order to do this, the student must have an advisor and committee members willing to supervise his/her thesis research. The thesis research advisor, Geophysics Graduate Advisor, and Department Chair must sign a petition indicating approval of the change to a thesis based M.S. degree option and it must be filed with the Advising Assistant (Mr. Jim Parker). The student must successfully defend his/her thesis proposal (as outlined in the requirements for the thesis based degree option) prior to completion of 27 hours of course work.