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Marine Geology and Geophysics, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 60 months
University rank #1 (QS) Cambridge, MA, United States
Marine geologists approach these problems through studies of oceanic rocks, sediments. Marine geophysicists are primarily concerned with the application of gravity, magnetics, heat flow, and seismic methods to study the structure of the earth beneath the oceans.
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Climate scientists develop and use a variety of techniques to reconstruct past oceans and climates, with the goal of providing perspective for ongoing and future climate change. Within the Joint Program, there are geologists, geochemists, geophysicists, and climate scientists who conduct research on a wide variety of topics, including:

  • Dynamics of convection in the mantle that drives the motion of tectonic plates
  • Tectonic, volcanic, and hydrothermal activity at mid-ocean ridges, and the structure of the oceanic crust
  • Coastal processes and the structure of continental margins
  • Interactions of continental and oceanic geologic processes
  • Past, present and future climate variability and impacts

Interdisciplinary work

Investigators from different disciplines also often work together with the goal of understanding the interactions between earth's processes, the oceans, and ecosystems. 

Geological processes influence the chemistry of the oceans and impact the distribution of organisms. Similarly, biological processes affect the chemistry of the oceans and sediments, and can even alter the composition of oceanic crust. Climate studies are naturally interdisciplinary.

Research tools and techniques

To explore the seafloor, marine geologists and geophysicists use a wide range of research tools and techniques, including field work, laboratory analyses, and numerical modeling. 

Many go to sea on research vessels to collect data and samples, either remotely using geophysical tools, rock dredging, sediment coring, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), or autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), or directly using a submersible.

While climate scientists also often use seafloor samples, they also use other natural archives such as lake and marsh sediment, corals, ice sheets, cave deposits, and trees to develop climate reconstructions.  

Across these subdisciplines, cruises and field work are typically followed by extensive data and/or sample analysis in the laboratory, and interpretation and modeling of the results.

Unique opportunity

In the Joint Program, graduate students have a unique opportunity for training and research in fields including geophysics, petrology and geochemistry, coastal processes, past, present, and future climate variability and impacts.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 60 months
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Courses include:

  • Coastal Studies
  • Geochemistry
  • Marine geology/geophysics/tectonics
  • Paleoceanography

English Language Requirements

  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120.

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Get a free IELTS practice test

General Requirements

Admission requirements:
  • Field of interest
  • Personal information/addresses
  • International student data
  • Three or more names and email addresses of letter writers
  • Scanned copies of your Official College Transcripts
  • Educational and work history
  • Statement of objectives
  • Outside financial support and potential outside support
  • Credit card payment of $75

Tuition Fee

  • International

    44720 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 44720 USD per year and a duration of 60 months.
  • National

    44720 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 44720 USD per year and a duration of 60 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.

Living costs for Cambridge

  • 1814 - 3760 USD/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.


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