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Phone: (414) 229-3948
Fax: (414) 229-5452
E-mail: dyanna@uwm.edu

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School/College: College of Letters and Science

Degrees Conferred:

  • M.S. in Geosciences
  • Ph.D. in Geosciences



The Department of Geosciences offers graduate work emphasizing applied aspects of the hydrologic, geological, and geophysical sciences. The geological sciences concentration prepares students for careers in such areas as engineering and environmental geology, hydrogeology, geophysical exploration, mining and petroleum geology.

The M.S. degree program trains students equally for professional practice and continued graduate study. The typical course of study takes two years to complete. The Ph.D. degree program, with interwoven components in lithospheric and hydrospheric science, is problem oriented rather than specialty oriented: this program is designed to produce scholars and practitioners capable of applying their training to achieve sound and pragmatic solutions to real problems in the earth sciences. Students in the doctoral program will normally spend a minimum of two years of formal course work, not including dissertation research.

The Department has a variety of geological and geophysical field equipment including a drill rig, portable water sampling and analytical systems, and marine and land-based seismic and electrical resistivity systems. In addition, the Department maintains the following equipment directly or through its association with the UWM Center for Great Lakes Studies: x-ray diffractometer and spectrometer, atomic absorption unit, gas and ion chromatographs, liquid scintillation counter, cold region environmental chambers, operating well field, seismograph, Paleomagnetics laboratory, and recirculating flume.

Supporting facilities in the University include a computing center, scanning electron microscope, a cartographic laboratory, the Saukville Field Station 50 km north of the campus, the Center for Great Lakes Studies, and the Urban Research Center.

The Department also maintains the extensive geological collections of the Greene Geological Gallery and cooperates actively with the Milwaukee County Public Museum.

Graduate Faculty

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Grundl, Timothy J., Ph.D., Colorado School of Mines
Harris, Mark T., Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
Isbell, John L., Ph.D., Ohio State University, Chair
Sverdrup, Keith, Ph.D., University of California-San Diego
Associate Professor
Cameron, Barry I., Ph.D., Northern Illinois University
Czeck, Dyanna, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Dornbos, Stephen, Ph.D., University of Southern California
Thomas S. Hooyer, Ph.D., Iowa State University
McHenry, Lindsay, Ph.D., Rutgers University
Fraiser, Margaret, Ph.D., University of Southern California
Xu, Shangping, Ph.D., Princeton University
Assistant Professors
Han, Weon Shik Ph.D., New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Bowles, Julie, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego

Master of Science in Geosciences

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An applicant must meet Graduate School requirements plus the following departmental requirements to be considered for admission to the program:
  • Undergraduate preparation consisting of one year each of: college chemistry, college physics, and calculus; one summer of field training in geology for students majoring in geology.
  • Undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 (4.0 scale).
  • Submission of scores on the Graduate Record Examination (General Test).

Applicants may be admitted with specific program-defined course deficiencies provided that the deficiencies amount to no more than two courses.

The student is expected to satisfy deficiency requirements within three enrolled semesters. The deficiencies are monitored by the Graduate School and the individual graduate program unit. No course credits earned in making up deficiencies may be counted as program credits required for the degree. A geology student who lacks field training must acquire the training not later than the summer following initial enrollment.

Major Professor as Advisor

The student must have a major professor to advise and supervise the student's studies as specified in Graduate School regulations. The student is assigned a temporary advisor at the time of initial enrollment and requests a faculty member to serve as the thesis advisor after selecting an area of specialization.

Credits and Courses

Minimum degree requirement is 30 graduate credits, at least 24 of which must be earned in formal course credits and up to 6 of which may be earned through an acceptable thesis. A graduate student is allowed to register for a maximum of nine 990 research credits, no more than 6 of which may be counted toward the 30-credit requirement.

All students in their second or later year are required to present a progress report annually to the Department.

Proposal for Thesis

Prior to the formal undertaking of thesis research, the student must prepare a written proposal for the thesis problem including an estimate of costs to be incurred. Copies of the proposal are to be distributed to the faculty advisor and the Department reading file. One copy is to be placed in the student's permanent Department file. An abstract of the proposal is to be distributed to each Department faculty member for comment and criticism.


The student must write an acceptable thesis embodying the results of original research completed under the direction of the advisor.

Comprehensive Examination

The student must pass a comprehensive examination, either oral or written or both. In part a defense of the thesis, the examination covers the student's entire graduate program of studies. At the option of the student, the part of the examination consisting of the presentation of the results of thesis research may be open to other graduate students.

Time Limit

The student must complete all degree requirements within five years of initial enrollment.

Doctor of Philosophy in Geosciences

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To be considered for admission to the program, an applicant must meet Graduate School requirements plus the following program requirements:

  1. Hold a master's degree in one of the natural sciences, engineering, or mathematics or have equivalent experience.
  2. Have an appropriate background in aspects of the geosciences relevant the intended field of study.
  3. Submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (general test).
  4. Arrange to have at least three (3) letters of recommendation sent to the Graduate Coordinator of the Department of Geosciences.

Exceptional students without a M.S. degree may be considered for admission. A student who holds a master's degree from UWM must formally reapply for admission to the Graduate School before continuing studies toward the Ph.D.

Course of Study

Doctoral students must earn 54 credits beyond the bachelor's degree, of which 24 credits may be taken from formal course work completed as part of the master's study. At least 21 graduate credits beyond the master's degree must be earned in formal coursework.

Each student must prepare a formal Program of Study to be submitted to the Graduate School within the first semester in the program. Courses are selected in consultation with the student's advisor with approval from the Doctoral Committee. Students are strongly advised to take courses from each of their committee members prior to taking the doctoral preliminary examination. For full time students, coursework should be completed within 4 semesters after admission to the Ph.D. program. In unusual situations, this timetable may be extended beyond 4 semesters. A timetable for coursework completion for part time students will be established on an individual basis.

Residency Requirement

The Graduate School requires satisfaction of a residency requirement. This involves completing at least 8 graduate credits in 2 consecutive semesters or 6 graduate credits in 3 consecutive semesters (exclusive of summer sessions) while in full doctoral status at UWM. In addition, at least half of the graduate credits required for the Ph.D. must be earned at UWM.

Quantitative Skill

A working knowledge of computer programming, statistics, numerical methods, or GIS appropriate to the student's field of study is required. Standards for this requirement will be established by the student's Doctoral Committee. Undergraduate courses taken to meet this requirement do not apply to the course requirements for the Ph.D.

Doctoral Committee

The membership of the Doctoral Committee will be established in the student's first semester. The Committee must consist of the following: the doctoral student's advisor as chair (or co-advisors as co-chairs); at least three additional graduate faculty members from the Geosciences Department; and at least one member from outside the student's fields of specialization. The student is required to arrange a meeting with the Doctoral Committee at least once each year.

The student may request a change of advisor if another faculty member is available, willing, and able to assume that role. If this change involves a significant modification of the area of specialization or research, the student's record will be reexamined to determine whether the student's background is sufficient for the new specialty. If it is not, it may be necessary for the student to withdraw from the program and reapply in the new specialty. Normally such a change of direction will not be allowed once the dissertation proposal has been defended.

Doctoral Preliminary Examination

Advancement to dissertator status requires that students must pass a doctoral preliminary examination and then develop and successfully defend a dissertation proposal. The doctoral preliminary examination is administered in two parts: a set of written exams and a follow-up oral exam. The structure of the examination will be established by the student's Doctoral Committee. It must be passed prior to the completion of 24 credits in the program and must demonstrate knowledge in the fields of geology and related sciences defined by the Doctoral Committee. The written and oral exams are taken after the residency requirement is fulfilled.

Subsequently, the student must present to the Doctoral Committee a written proposal in NSF format for her/his dissertation research. At a minimum, it should provide an overview of and approach to the problem being addressed, a budget, and appropriate bibliographic references. The dissertation proposal should be defended within one semester of completion of the preliminary exam. Students who successfully pass all three elements of the doctoral preliminary examination are admitted to doctoral dissertator status.

Annual Presentation of Results

Each dissertator is required to make a 30-minute presentation of research results at a Geosciences Colloquium each year. Dissertators also are required to make a 50-minute colloquium presentation of the results of the completed doctoral research prior to the dissertation defense.


The candidate must present a written dissertation reporting the results of independent, original research carried out under the direction of the major professor. Prior to a defense, the dissertation must be reviewed by a Reading Committee consisting of the major professor and at least two other members of the Doctoral Committee. Information regarding dissertation deadlines, preparation, and review of the dissertation is available from the Student Services Office of the Graduate School.

Dissertation Defense

The student first will present research results in a colloquium. Then the dissertation must be orally defended before the entire Doctoral Committee. The defense may include questions related to any of the dissertator's fields of study. If the dissertation is defended and the oral examination is passed to the satisfaction of a majority of the Doctoral Committee, the candidate is passed and recommended for the degree.

Time Limit

All degree requirements must be completed within ten years from the date of initial enrollment in the doctoral program.

Additional Requirements and Information

Detailed information about program requirements is provided to each student following admission and is available from the Department office. For additional information on Graduate School Ph.D. requirements, see the Doctoral Requirements Web page.


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Courses numbered 300-699 are Undergraduate/Graduate. Courses numbered 700 and above are Graduate only.

317 Stable Isotope Geochemistry. 3 cr. U/G.
To understand the fractionation and mass balance of stable isotope systems in nature and their application to geologic problems. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 100(P) or 101(P); & Chem 104(C) & Geo Sci 301(P).
400 Water Quality. 3 cr. U/G.
Water availability and water quality in surface and subsurface water bodies; management of water as a resource. 2 hrs lec, 3 hrs lab. Prereq: jr st; Chem 102(P); Math 232(P); or cons instr.
401 General Soil Science. 3 cr. U/G.
Soil profile development, weathering, soil mineralogy, water and nutrient relationships, classification of soil. 2 hrs lec, 3 hr lab. Required field trips for which fees are assessed. Prereq: jr st; Chem 104(P) or equiv or cons instr.
405 Geology for In-Service Teachers: (Subtitled). 1-3 cr. U/G.
Basic, advanced or new topics in geology for in-service teachers. Retakable with change in topic to max of 9 cr. Prereq: in-service teacher, additional prereqs depending on topic.
409 Process Geomorphology. 3 cr. U/G.
Study of geological processes and their effect on the formation and evolution of land forms. Lec, lab, field trips for which fee is assessed. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 100(P), Geog 120(P), or 121(P).
435 History of Geologic Thought. 3 cr. U/G.
History of development of the major concepts in geology. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 102(P) or cons instr.
440 Geochemical Thermodynamics. 3 cr. U/G.
Basic equilibrium thermo-dynamics applied to low-temperature and high-temperature geochemical problems. Prereq: jr st, Chem 104(P), Geo Sci 301(P), & Math 231(P).
443 Glacial and Pleistocene Geology. 3 cr. U/G.
Mechanics of glacial flow, Pleistocene stratigraphy, and laboratory techniques. Lec, lab, & field trips for which fees are assessed. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 100(P) or 101(P) or Geog 120(P) or 121(P). Geo Sci 102(R) or 108(R).
461 Physical Oceanography. 3 cr. U/G.
Overview of physical oceanography, conservation of mass, salinity and momentum, thermodynamics, equations of motion. Waves, currents and circulation. Prereq: jr st; Math 232(P); & Physics 123(P) or 210(P).
463 Physical Hydrogeology. 3 cr. U/G.
Study of ground water occurrence, its interrelationship with surface water, aquifer properties, groundwater flow and water supply development, including well hydraulics, water quality, and groundwater law. Lec, lab, & field trip for which fee is assessed. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 100(P) or 101(P); Math 232(P).
464 Chemical Hydrogeology. 3 cr. U/G.
Natural chemical processes that occur in groundwater systems, how they are modified by human activity and contamination, and attempts to regulate them. Lec, lab. Frshwtr 464 & Geo Sci 464 are jointly-offered; they count as repeats of one another. Prereq: jr st; Chem 102(P).
497 Study Abroad: (Subtitled). 1-12 cr. U/G.
Designed to enroll students in UWM sponsored program before course work level, content, and credits are determined and/or in specially prepared course work. Retakable w/chg in topic. Prereq: jr st; acceptance for Study Abroad Prog.
511 Stratigraphy and Sedimentation. 3 cr. U/G.
Techniques and principles of sedimentology and stratigraphy, including methods of correlation, analysis of facies, stratigraphic mapping, and tectonic controls of sedimentation. Lec, lab, field trips. Prereq: jr st ; Geo Sci 102(P) or equiv.
515 Physical Sedimentology. 3 cr. U/G.
Physical properties, processes, and environments of clastic sediments. Lec, lab, field trip for which fee is assessed. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 511(P).
520 Introduction to Paleontology. 3 cr. U/G.
General study of fossils and theoretical principles used in the study of paleontology. Lec, lab, field trips. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 102 or 108.
525 Terroir: Geology in a Glass. 3 cr. U/G.
The geology, soil types, and climate of famous wine regions; factors that influence the production of fine wine. No cr for students w/cr in Geo Sci 696 w/same topic. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 100(P).
545 X-Ray Analytical Methods. 3 cr. U/G.
Methods in x-ray diffractometry and spectrometry. Nature and generation of x-rays, collection and interpretation of powder diffraction patterns and elemental analysis using x-ray spectrometry. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 301(P); satisfaction of OWC-A req; Chem 102(C).
558 Conducted Field Trip: (Subtitled). 1-3 cr. U/G.
Field trip to a classical geologic area. Preceded by a seminar. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max, only 3 cr of which may be applied toward geo sci major. Prereq: jr st; cons instr.
562 Environmental Surface Hydrology. 3 cr. U/G.
Land-atmosphere interactions, modeling of runoff generation, and water movement in the vadose zone. 3 hrs lec. Prereq: jr st; Math 232(P); or cons instr.
563 Field Methods in Hydrogeology. 3 cr. U/G.
Introduction to current equipment and methodology used in field evaluation of hydrologic systems. Well installation and monitoring, stream gaging, indirect surface observations. Lab, field trip for which fee is assessed. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 463(P).
599 Geology of Wisconsin--Field Course. 3 cr. U/G.
Multi-institutional team-taught, conducted field course throughout Wisconsin; instruction in the field, using exposures on which Wisconsin's geological history has been interpreted. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 302(P).
614 Advanced Structural Geology. 3 cr. U/G.
Advanced analysis of deformation as applied to geological structures from microscopic through regional scales. Lec, field trip for which fee is assessed. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 414(P); Math 231(C).
635 Volcanology. 3 cr. U/G.
Why and when volcanoes erupt; predicting whether eruptions will be explosive or passive. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 302(P) or cons instr.
636 Geochronology. 3 cr. U/G.
Theory and application of radiometric and other numerical dating methods in geology, archaeology, and paleoanthropology. Anthro 636 & Geo Sci 636 are jointly offered; they count as repeats of one another. Prereq: jr st, Anthro 101(P) or 103(P) or Geo Sci 100(P), & cons instr; or grad st & cons instr.
637 Planetary Geology. 3 cr. U/G.
Advanced study of planetary geology, for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. No cr for students w/cr in Geo Sci 697 w/same topic. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 301(P) or Astron 211(P) or 400(P); completion of OWC-A GER (English 102 or equiv placement).
638 Advanced Igneous Petrology. 3 cr. U/G.
Recent trends and applications in the fields of igneous petrology. Quantitative modelling of important petrologic processes. Critical reading of journal articles in petrology. Lec. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 302(P).
655 Topics in Structure and Tectonics: (Subtitled). 1-3 cr. U/G.
Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 414(P) or cons instr.
663 Earthquake Seismology. 3 cr. U/G.
Cause, size, location, hazards, prediction and control of earthquakes and the interpretations of earthquake seismograms. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 316(P); or grad st & cons instr.
668 Geoelectrical Methods. 3 cr. U/G.
Fundamentals of electrical resistivity surveys and electromagnetic methods, with an emphasis on surficial and environmental applications. Prereq: jr st; Geo Sci 316(C), 463(C), or 661(C).
688 Seminar in Geosciences for Teachers: (Subtitled). 1-6 cr. U/G.
Seminar modules on various topics in geosciences offered for teachers. Open only to practicing science teachers with demonstrable expertise in geoscience. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Prereq: current teaching contract.
695 Internship in Geoscience. 1-3 cr. U/G.
An internship consistent with the student's plan of study in geosciences. Requirements and evaluation determined by the department on an individual basis. Prereq: jr st; cons dept.
696 Topics in the Geological Sciences: (Subtitled). 1-3 cr. U/G.
Add'l prereqs announced in Schedule of Classes each time course offered. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Prereq: jr st.
697 Seminar in the Geological Sciences: (Subtitled). 1-3 cr. U/G.
Specific credits and add'l prereqs announced in Schedule of Classes each time course offered. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Prereq: jr st.
698 Research Experience for Teachers. 1-6 cr. U/G.
Enrichment of students' geoscience background. Work with faculty mentor to develop an innovative teaching program for use in students' own classrooms. Open only to practicing science teachers with demonstrable expertise in geoscience. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Prereq: current teaching contract.
703 Biotic Crises in Earth's History. 3 cr. G.
The interconnectedness among the physical, chemical, and biological processes on Earth and throughout Earth's history. Prereq: grad st; Geo Sci 520(P) or equiv.
730 Modelling Techniques for Hydrogeology. 3 cr. G.
Study and application of modelling techniques in hydrogeology. Includes finite difference and finite element techniques for groundwater flow, contaminent transport, and geochemistry. Prereq: grad st; Geo Sci 463; knowledge of fortran or equiv; cons instr.
740 Carbonate Sedimentology. 3 cr. G.
Depositional processes, environments and stratigraphic analysis of carbonate rocks. Lec, lab, field trip, for which fee is assessed. Field trip for which fee is assessed. Prereq: grad st; Geo Sci 511 or equiv.
749 Biogeochemistry of Soils. 3 cr. G.
Biogeochemical processes in soils and their impact on water quality. 3 hrs lec. Prereq: grad st; Geo Sci 464(P) or cons instr.
750 Contaminant Hydrogeology. 3 cr. G.
Transport and fate of contaminants in aquifers, aquitards, and unsaturated geologic materials. Prereq: grad st; Geo Sci 464(C).
790 Graduate Seminar in the Geological Sciences: (Subtitled). 1-3 cr. G.
Add'l prereqs announced in schedule of classes each time course offered. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Prereq: grad st.
888 Candidate for Degree. 0 cr. G.
Available for grad students who must meet minimum cr load requirement. Fee for 1 cr assessed. Prereq: grad st.
990 Master's Thesis. 1-8 cr. G.
Prereq: grad st; cons instr & completed thesis proposal.
997 Doctoral Externship. 1-12 cr. G.
Prereq: grad st; admis to candidacy for Ph.D.
998 Doctoral Dissertation. 1-12 cr. G.
Prereq: grad st; admis to candidacy for Ph.D.
999 Advanced Independent Reading. 1-4 cr. G.
Independent geologic study. Retakable to 4 cr max. Prereq: grad st & cons instr.

Page last updated on: 01/16/2015