Please note:

To view the current Calendar go to

Department of Earth Sciences | Faculty of Science Simon Fraser University Calendar | Summer 2019

Earth Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy

Earth sciences comprise a variety of disciplines in which pure and applied research is carried out to investigate the processes responsible for the formation and evolution of our planet. The doctor of philosophy (PhD) program combines coursework and research, training students for a broad range of careers in geoscience.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must satisfy the University admission requirements as stated in Graduate General Regulation 1.3 in the SFU Calendar. Applicants normally will have completed a master's degree in science or engineering. For students entering without a master's degree, the following additional admission requirements apply:

Entry with a BSc or Equivalent Degree

  • A cumulative grade point average of at least 3.67 or equivalent first-class standing;
  • Evidence of research potential in the form of a scholarly work or portfolio of scholarly works (see Department of Earth Sciences website).

Transfer from MSc to PhD Program

Students who have excelled in their academic programs and who are judged to have outstanding research potential may apply for transfer from the MSc to the PhD program. The following are required: 

  • At least three terms, and not more than six terms, in the Earth Sciences MSc program;
  • A cumulative grade point average of at least 3.67 in the MSc program;
  • A record of strong performance as demonstrated in the graduate progress report;
  • Successful completion of the MSc Thesis Proposal;
  • Evidence of research potential in the form of a scholarly work or portfolio of scholarly works (see Department of Earth Sciences website);
  • A doctoral thesis proposal (see PhD program requirements);
  • Approval of the student's supervisory committee in the form of a letter of recommendation from the senior supervisor and written approval of the committee members. The letter should address any perceived shortcomings in the application, including for example, a marginal CGPA or a limited record of scholarly work;
  • Approval of the departmental graduate program committee.

Program Requirements

This program consists of courses, a candidacy exam, a research seminar and a thesis. The courses selected will reflect the student's research interests and guidance from the senior supervisor. Additional course work may be assigned by the supervisory committee based on the results of the candidacy examination.

Students must complete

EASC 600 - Introduction to Graduate Studies (0) *

A required course designed to acquaint new graduate students with the research strengths of the program, research facilities in the University, and its vicinity. Procedures and policies relating to preparation, conduct and presentation of thesis research will be discussed. Graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory.

A minimum of six units of graduate courses in EASC (or related graduate courses from other departments with the graduate program chair's approval)**

EASC 901 - PhD Research Seminar (1)

Graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory. Prerequisite: Enrollment in PhD program.

EASC 910 - PhD Candidacy Examination (0)

Candidates must pass an oral examination to demonstrate their ability to carry out the proposed thesis research. The examination comprises an oral presentation of the proposed research to an open audience, followed by a closed oral examination by the examining committee. The examination is usually taken prior to the end of the fourth term of enrollment, or within one term after transferring from the MSc program. It may not be taken more than twice. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Prerequisite: Enrollment in PhD program.

EASC 998 - PhD Thesis (18)

Prerequisite: Enrollment in PhD Program.

* If EASC 600 was previously completed during the MSc it does not need to be taken again.

** Students who enter the PhD program without a master's degree, or who transfer from the MSc program into the PhD program, must complete at least 15 units of graduate courses.

Candidacy Examination

Students complete an oral candidacy examination prior to the end of the fourth term of enrollment, or in the first term after transferring from the MSc program. Students with an unsatisfactory outcome must pass a second exam within six months. A second unsatisfactory outcome will result in withdrawal from the program.

Research Seminars

PhD students must give one research seminar, which should be based on completed, or nearly completed, thesis work. Students are expected to attend all research seminars in the department.


Students define and undertake original research, the results of which are reported in a thesis and defended before an examining committee (see Graduate General Regulation 1.9.3).

Program Length

Students are expected to complete the program requirements in 12 terms.

Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations

All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.