Research course

Earth and Planetary Sciences

Harvard University

Entry requirements

Requirements for admission are highly flexible and each application is judged on its own merits. Students with backgrounds in applied math, biology, chemistry, Earth sciences, engineering, physics, and related fields are strongly encouraged to apply.

Applications are made online via Harvard GSAS.

Months of entry


Course content

Almost every practical aspect of society—population, environment, economics, politics—is and will be increasingly impacted by our relationship with the earth. This program provides you with the flexibility to travel down the path in a specific area of the field that interests you the most. You will work with faculty to address fundamental questions about our world—from prehistoric geological processes to understanding weather patterns.

Students in the program have gone on field trips everywhere from Maine to Spain and research trips to Australia, Norway, Canada, and beyond. You will have the opportunity to use Harvard’s advanced instrumentation such as the Visualization Research and Teaching Laboratory with the Ultra High Resolution Science Observatory. Projects students have worked on include high temp geochemistry and cosmochemistry, climate dynamics, and geology, and earth history.

Graduates of the program have gone on to positions as a senior research scientist at NASA, geoscientist at ExxonMobil, and consultant at McKinsey & Company. Others have gone on to faculty positions at UC Berkeley, Columbia, and Princeton.

Fees and funding

5 years’ funding is guaranteed to all Harvard PhD students.

British citizens who are – or will be – graduates of British universities should check out both Kennedy Scholarships and Frank Knox Fellowships.

Both of these awards offer full tuition and health insurance coverage and a generous stipend towards living expenses. They are offered annually in competition. A Frank Knox Fellowship can be particularly welcomed during the early stages of a doctoral degree and both awards offer considerable personal support from their networks.

Please note that you will need to submit your application to either or both awards ahead of the deadline for your Harvard application. Kennedy Scholarship and Frank Knox Fellowship applications are to be made online via their websites between mid-August and late-October in the same application season as you will submit your application to Harvard. Please also note they are totally separate from, and independent of, admission to the program. Awards made at interview in London in January are provisional, pending confirmation of a place on the course.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    full time
    60 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

GSAS Admissions