California Institute of Technology
Seismological Laboratory Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences

Education

Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQ's pertain to our Geophysics Graduate program. Please see our Division Website (Geological & Planetary Sciences Graduate Information) or contact the Geophysics Option Representative for further details.

When are graduate applications due?

Applications for the graduate program are due by January 1st. However, early submissions are encouraged as application reviews are already in progress in December.

Can I earn a terminal Master's Degree in Geophysics at Caltech?

Caltech only accepts students who intend to pursue a Ph.D. in geophysics. We do not offer a Master's degree as a terminal degree.

How do I apply for graduate admission?

Visit the Graduate Admissions website in order to download or request an application. Complete instructions may be found there. Applications are due on January 1st for entry the following September. Also peruse this website for detailed information on the faculty and their research expertise; current graduate students; dissertation titles of alumni; and general information
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Where can I find Catalog information about the Geophysics PhD Program?

In the online Caltech Catalog, Geology, Geobiology, Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Planetary Science Options Science section, tab 346 - 349 & 350 - 351.

Can I attend Caltech as a part-time student?

No. Our graduate program is for full-time students only.

How many years does it take to earn a Ph.D. in Geophysics at Caltech?

The Ph.D. program requires a minimum of three academic years of residence. Most students complete the Ph.D. program in five to six years.

Are stipends available for graduate students?

In general, students offered admission to graduate study at Caltech are simultaneously offered a package of financial support that pays all tuition charges and provides them with a stipend. Financial support for graduate students comes in the form of fellowships, research assistantships, teaching assistantship, or some combination of fellowship and assistantship support. In most cases financial assistance is awarded on an annual basis, but there are also multi-year fellowships available. A separate application for requesting financial aid is not required. Applicants requesting additional information on financial assistance may contact the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies at (626) 395-6348.
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Must I take the GRE?

Yes. GRE scores are required for the general test. However, Geophysics does not require a subject test. It is strongly recommended that applicants take the GRE in October to allow enough time for Caltech to receive the scores by January.

What kind of background preparation is recommended?

Applications are encouraged from fields other than geophysics, but applicants should be aware that the program is mathematically and scientifically oriented.

I already have earned a Ph.D. May I still apply to your program?

Students who hold a Ph.D. degree from another institution are not normally admitted to graduate standing at Caltech to pursue a second Ph.D. degree.