Frequently Asked Questions
No. We only admit full time students to our graduate program.
No. Taking the GRE is optional. However, if you chose to do so, you may submit your GRE scores with your application.
The department does not have minimum required grades or test scores, but rather, graduate applications are holistically evaluated and rated by the Graduate Program Committee. See “How is my application evaluated?”
Students who speak a native language other than English must provide evidence of English proficiency. A score of 100 or higher on the TOEFL iBT test or 7.0 or higher on the IELTS test is required. Under certain circumstances this requirement can be waived. Visit the MCAS website on graduate admissions for more information.
At Boston College we seek to build a diverse cohort of graduate students who will pursue independent research at the forefront of earth & environmental sciences. In evaluating applications to our M.S. and Ph.D. programs, we are looking for well-rounded students who combine academic excellence with an aptitude for performing scientific research. As such, we consider all aspects of an applicant’s file including academic performance, prior research experience, letters of recommendation, personal statement, GRE scores (no penalty if they are not provided), and a commitment to building a diverse, compassionate, and cohesive graduate student community. No one aspect of a student’s file outweighs others, rather we try to build a holistic picture from which to assess a student’s future professional promise (whether it be in academia, or the public or private sectors). An important aspect of the admissions process is properly pairing students with a faculty advisor(s), thus we strongly encourage students to reach out to potential advisors during the application process.
The department aims to enroll a total of approximately 6–8 new graduate students pursuing M.S. and Ph.D. degrees each year.
Yes! Students are admitted to our graduate program with an assigned thesis advisor who they will work with to determine their thesis topic. Therefore, students are highly encouraged to contact department faculty members during the application process to explore current research opportunities and potential thesis projects.
Prior experience in Geophysics is not required or expected. Your M.S. would be in Geology or Geophysics and you would have the option to decide which once you are accepted to and start the program.
The timeline for the decision process can be variable year to year and applicant to applicant, but final decisions are typically made by mid-March. Feel free to inquire about the status of your application if you have not received any communication by mid-February, especially if you find yourself in a time sensitive situation.
The M.S. graduate program is designed so all course requirements and the oral comprehensive exam can be completed in four academic semesters. The time for completing the M.S. thesis can vary from student-to-student depending on the capabilities of the student, the complexity of the research project, the logistics of the research, and other unpredictable factors that can crop up when scientific research is carried out, but generally two years is expected. The BC Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) dictates that graduate students have five years from the start of their graduate program to complete their M.S. degree.
The time for completing the Ph.D. program will vary on a student-to-student based on their prior academic preparation, the complexity of the research project, the logistics of the research, and other unpredictable factors that can crop up when scientific research is carried out. For students admitted without a master’s degree, the Ph.D. program is designed to be completed approximately 5 years. Students admitted to the Ph.D. program who have already received their master’s degree generally will be able to complete the program in 3–4 years, depending on the individual’s background and the scope of their thesis research.
Our alumni are very successful in obtaining employment within their areas of interest upon graduation in the Boston area, across the country, and abroad. Alumni have found jobs at government agencies, non-profits, consulting firms, oil and gas industry, and research & development companies, including NASA, the World Wildlife Fund, Hess, ExxonMobil, Shell, Thermo Fisher Scientific, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Our master’s students have also gone on to pursue Ph.D.s at other universities, as well as our own Ph.D. program
Admitted M.S. and Ph.D. students typically received tuition remission credits and a monthly stipend as a TA or RA Tuition Remission (TR) as a form of financial aid that defrays the tuition costs of taking graduate courses at Boston College. Most graduate students receive enough tuition remission credits to complete required graduate student coursework at no cost to them as long as they are in good standing within the program. A Teaching Assistantship (TA) is a form of financial aid where a student is paid a regular stipend to help a professor teach a course in the department. A Research Assistantship (RA) is a form of financial aid where a student is paid a regular stipend to help a professor conduct research. TA and RA stipends are normally sufficient to pay routine living expenses.