The nature of graduate research in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is highly variable. As a result, students may enter the graduate program with backgrounds in earth sciences, chemistry, or physics, depending on their research interests and the supervisor with whom they wish to work. Prospective students are encouraged to read about the research interests of individual faculty members to identify who would be a suitable supervisor and to contact this person before applying to the department.
Master of Science
Students pursuing an M.Sc. are required to take four courses, but their major project is an M.Sc. thesis that typically results in a journal publication. Research for the thesis typically begins in the first year of residence and is completed, together with the written results, in the second year of residence.
Students graduating from the M.Sc. program typically proceed to a Ph.D. or work in the mineral exploration or petroleum industries. Excellent students admitted into the M.Sc. program can be “fast-tracked” from the M.Sc. into the Ph.D. program at the end of the first year, if suitable progress has been demonstrated. Such students are required to take a minimum of 18 credits of coursework and a comprehensive oral examination in the Ph.D. 2 year.
More information on the M.Sc. in Earth and Planetary Sciences program.
Philosophy of Science
Students typically enter the doctoral program with an M.Sc., in which case they are required by our regulations to take only two courses, although a supervisor may require more, depending on the suitability of the student’s background. Aside from courses, the first year is occupied by early work on the thesis project that constitutes the bulk of the Ph.D., with preparation for an oral examination on their research proposal at the end of the first year. Conduct of the research, and preparation of the results, for thesis and publication, typically takes three additional years. Students entering the Ph.D. program without an M.Sc. are required to take a full year of courses before embarking on the processes described above. Students graduating from our Ph.D. program pursue careers in universities and government-funded research institutes, and in the mineral-exploration and petroleum industries.
More information about the Ph.D. Earth & Planetary Sciences program.
The graduate option in Environment, available for both the M.Sc. and Ph.D., provides students with an appreciation for the role of science in informing decision-making in the environment sector, including the influence of political, socio-economic, and ethical judgments. The option also provides a forum whereby graduate students bring their disciplinary perspectives together and enrich each other's learning through structured courses, formal seminars, and informal discussions and networking. Students that have been admitted through their home department or faculty may apply for admission to the option. Option requirements are consistent across academic units. The option is coordinated by the McGill School of Environment, in partnership with participating academic units.