Doctor of Philosophy in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Fields

Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Program Requirements

With the assistance of their faculty advisor, each student follows an individualized program of study encompassing core subjects, basic science and mathematics, and subjects related to the student’s area of interest. Faculty advisors may be members of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences or other MIT departments. Students typically receive their degree in five years. The first two years are spent in coursework and research, culminating in a general examination, which must be completed before the end of the second year. Following the general examination, the student forms a thesis committee and presents a thesis proposal. The thesis committee includes the faculty advisor and at least three other faculty members. The student defends their thesis in a public defense. The thesis must meet high professional standards and make a significant original contribution to the student’s chosen research area.

12.970, 12.971Current Research in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences 124-192
12.THGGraduate Thesis 2288
Total Units312-480

Note: Students in this program can choose to receive the Doctor of Philosophy or the Doctor of Science in their designated Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science field of specialization. Students receiving veterans benefits must select the degree they wish to receive prior to program certification with the Veterans Administration. 


Units will vary depending on student's individual plan of study.


The research units given here are based on three years from General Examination to thesis defense, but will vary depending on how long the student remains in the program. After passing the general exam, students will register for 36 units of research each fall and spring semester and 24 units for summer semester.