University of California, Irvine

School of Physical Sciences

Earth Systems Science - PhD


UC Irvine Graduate Division

University of California

Irvine, CA 92697

United States


(949) 824-5544


(949) 824-7993

Program Information

Degrees Offered:

PhD - Earth System Science

Format: Campus

Program Description:

The Department of Earth System Science is located in the School of Physical Sciences along with the Departments of Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics. The focus of the Department is on the science of the Earth as a "System" encompassing the study of the transfers of energy, water and elements among the atmosphere, land, ocean, and cryosphere, with emphasis on the recent impacts of human activities. At present there is little, if any, activity in solid earth geophysics, geology, petrology, and other more traditional topics. Instead, we emphasize atmospheric chemistry, climate, and biogeochemical cycles.

The doctoral program in Earth System Science is both exciting and challenging. Graduate coursework includes a multidisciplinary curriculum covering physical, chemical, and biological aspects of the Earth System. Coursework is designed to develop a mechanistic understanding of Earth Systems, and to provide the conceptual and analytical tools needed for research in this rapidly growing field. The graduate student body is diverse (including students with backgrounds in physics, chemistry, biology, geology, etc.), reflecting the wide range of disciplines involved in Earth System Science.

Research is the most important element of our graduate program. The Department has a wide spectrum of active research programs, ranging from supercomputer simulations of global climate and biogeochemical systems, to remote sensing observations of changes in the hydrological cycle, to field studies of carbon cycling in the remote Amazon jungle, to ice core drilling in Antarctica. Our faculty has grown rapidly in recent years, with a new group focused on Abrupt Climate Change. Information about ongoing research programs and facilities in the Department is available on our web site, where you can also find information about our current and past graduate students.


UC Irvine is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and all graduate programs receive rigorous external reviews mandated by the University of California every five years.

International Student Requirements:

1. International Students and students who do not speak English as their native language must submit scores for TOEFL iBT with an overall minimum score of 80. As an option, you may submit scores from the IELTS exam (overall score = 7 .AND. with a score = 6 on each individual IELTS module). 2. Applicants who qualify to serve as Teaching Assistants (TA) may be more competitive for admission. To be eligible to serve as a TA, a TOEFLibt score = 26 on the Speaking component, OR, an IELTS score = 8 on their Speaking module, OR, a score = 50 on the TSE (Test of Spoken English). Official Test Scores must be transmitted to UC Irvine. TOEFL/TOEFLibt scores will be transmitted to UC Irvine when you specify the following on your exam: Institutional Code = 4859, Departmental Code = 47 ** TOEFL/TOEFLibt or IELTS test scores must be = two years old as of the first day of classes. Older scores are NOT acceptable.

Facts & Figures

Classification: Doctoral/Research University—Extensive

Loans Offered: Tuition assistance is available through student loans

Locale: Midsize City

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