Admissions Procedure for the Ph.D. Program

The Earth and Environmental Sciences Ph.D. program is a full-time program offered through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; students who can attend classes only in the late afternoons and evenings and on Saturdays or during the Summer Session may not matriculate in this Department. A terminal M.A. is not offered. All students must sign on for the full Ph.D. program (and will acquire the MA degree along the way). Applicants for the Ph.D. program must have completed at least a Bachelor's degree.

Students who wish to do graduate work at the American Museum of Natural History must fill out 2 applications -- one for admission to the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences and one for fellowship support from the American Museum of Natural History. The Museum application can be obtained from Maria Rios-Dickson (


Spring Term: only encouraged in special circumstances with the approval of the Dean.

Fall Term: January 5th. Applications received after January 5th will be considered for late awards at the discretion of the University.


New Admission Requirements (as of April 2013)

We require applicants to have:

at least one college year with a B or better in:

  • Chemistry
  • Calculus
  • Physics (Calculus-based)

Students may be admitted with a deficiency in one or more areas, but must eradicate deficiencies before or soon after entrance, in accord with the Department's Entrance Deficiency and Procedures. 

New Entrance Deficiency Policy and Procedures

The Admissions Committee will identify any deficiencies before the student’s first registration in the Department. The student must eradicate the deficiency as soon as possible; the M. Phil. degree cannot be granted until this is done. A deficiency is generally removed by earning a grade of B or higher in an appropriate course, selected in consultation with the student's Advisor and/or Advisory Committee and approved by the Graduate Study Committee.

Columbia University courses that may satisfy deficiencies include the following examples (others are possible). These include basic undergraduate courses and, if students are prepared, higher level EESC courses that require basic science courses and move substantially past them.

CHEM 1403-1404 (General Chemistry)
CHEM 3443-3444 (Organic Chemistry)
EESC 4009 (Chemical Geology)
EESC 4924 (Atmospheric Chemistry)

PHYS 1201-1202 (General Physics, calculus pre-req)
EESC 4085 (Geodynamics)
EESC 4925 (Physical Oceanography)

MATH 1101, 1102 or 1201 (Calculus I, II or III)
APMA 3101 (Linear Algebra)
EESC 6908 (Quantitative Methods in Data Analysis)

Up to two 4000-level courses that are used to satisfy deficiencies may
also count towards the Ph.D.

Advanced Standing:

Credit for work done elsewhere is given at the discretion of the University. A maximum of 15 points of advanced standing and two Residence Units may be credited towards the Ph.D. degree for graduate work completed elsewhere. (No credit is granted toward the MA). Advanced standing toward the PhD will be considered for all students who enter our program with an external Master's degree. A maximum of 15 credits is possible; advanced standing is considered after one year in residence at Columbia.

A Completed Application Includes:

  1. transcripts of all previous post-secondary education;
  2. a personal statement of academic purpose;
  3. three recent letters of recommendation;
  4. GRE (Graduate Record Examination) (Columbia University GSAS GRE Code: 2162);
  5. if applicable, an acceptable TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score;
  6. and an application fee.

Online Application Procedures:

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) is no longer printing applications. All prospective students must apply using the GSAS online application. The Admissions section of the GSAS website provides a wealth of information on all aspects of application process, including detailed FAQs.  The application deadline is January 5th.

Supporting Materials:  Please use the cover sheets provided in the Downloadable Forms section of your online application when mailing any supporting materials for your application.  These forms contain the specific AY number for the account you use to submit your application. If you cannot attach or use one of the forms, if possible, write the AY number on each document you submit. There will be a delay in processing your application materials submitted without the AY number. All supporting materials should be sent to:

Columbia University
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Office of Admissions
108 Low Memorial Library, MC 4303
535 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027, USA

(212) 854-8903


All prospective students should visit the Admissions pages of the GSAS website and the department's Frequently Asked Questions page.

The American Museum of Natural History application can be obtained from:

Information on the GRE or TOEFL is available from:

Educational Testing Service
20 Nassau Street
Princeton, NJ 08540

(609) 771-7670

All other questions may be addressed to:

Monica Hinojosa
Administrative Assistant
Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Room 106 Geoscience Bldg.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
P.O. Box 1000
Palisades, NY 10964
Phone: (845)365-8482
Fax: (845)365-8163