graduate admissions

information for potential graduate applicants

Why choose Lehigh?

We have a focused, field-oriented graduate program linked to nationally prominent research in key areas of the Earth system. In this time of increased focus on multidisciplinary science, we think our program is a great way for you to get your graduate training and credentials. Our well-funded, well-connected faculty tend to work closely with a few students at a time on their research, something that can be lacking in large programs. Graduate work in EES is marked by:

  • personalized attention
  • focused, well-funded research groups
  • a diverse intellectual setting
  • easy access to cutting-edge equipment
  • attention to career development
  • good chances for a job after you graduate.

Whether to attend graduate school, what to study, and where to go are important questions. You should make a careful decision and tailor your choice to your needs, goals, and interests. You really do have lots of options available to you, and they can seem overwhelming, but the good news is that you can probably find a program that's a good fit. As you look through this web site you'll see that we've got some very interesting research going on in many areas of ecology, environmental science, and geology, and we offer both the PhD. degree as well as a rigorous, thesis-based M.S.

If that sounds good, consider joining us for your graduate work!

Next Steps

Considerably more information about our programs and our research, is available on these pages. We strongly recommend that you have a look around and in particular contact any faculty member that seems to be doing work of interest to you: if you have questions and want to know more, we really do encourage you to email or phone any of our faculty. We'd love to have a chat.

Degrees We Offer


Grad students in EES enjoy fine offices

EES offers both the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Earth and Environmental Sciences. Under a broad Earth-systems umbrella, students do basic research in many of the subdisciplines of ecology, environmental science, geology, geochemistry, and geophysics. The M.S. requires at least 24 credit hours of coursework, a total of 30 credits, and a thesis that we expect to be of publishable quality. The Ph.D. requires additional credit hours (depending on your entry level), and of course a dissertation, on the road to which there are two exams designed to assess, respectively, your overall training, and your specialized expertise relevant to your dissertation proposal. Most Ph.D. theses in recent years have used a format in which the thesis chapters amount to papers submitted to or published in the peer-reviewed literature. More details about degree and program requirements can be found by peeking into our graduate handbook.

Graduate Admission

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If you're a graduate of an accredited college or university, you may be considered for admission to our graduate program. Typically, applicants to the EES graduate program have earned science baccalaureate degrees (eg. Geological Sciences, Biological Sciences, Environmental Science, Physics or Chemistry), but we encourage students with work experience and other types of training to talk with us.

Application for admission requires official academic transcripts, letters of recommendation from academic contacts, results from GRE general exams, and statements of research and career interests. Results from a TOEFL exam is required of all applicants whose native language is not English.

Admission to our graduate programs is decided by the EES faculty. We base our decisions on:

  • academic record, especially in relevant fields
  • GRE scores
  • letters of recommendation
  • statement of research and career interests
  • support by one or more EES faculty advocates

As you can see, a very important part of the application process is to find one or two faculty members you are interested in working with, and then contacting them to see if there is a good fit between your specific interests and theirs. We also encourage you to visit us so that we can get to know you and you can meet faculty and grad students.

Note that we do not have the time to pre-screen potential applications, so in particular please refrain from inquiring whether your GRE scores or GPA are high enough for admission. Your completed application will highlight your previous research and other experience and will paint a more complete picture of your qualifications. We have admitted applicants with a wide range of scores, a reflection of how we use the complete application in our decision making. For the record, nearly all of our incoming students have GRE scores in the percentile range ~60% to 99% and GPA's equivalent to B or better.

Applications for admission as a regular graduate student are accepted annually until July 1, for a start in the Fall semester. However, to be considered for financial aid, completed applications must be received by the College of Arts and Sciences Graduate Programs Office by January 1 for the following academic year. A Spring-semester start is possible but requires the support of an advisor who has RA funds in hand.

Applications for admission are prepared and submitted online

Additional Information

For general information about graduate study at Lehigh, visit the College of Arts and Sciences' graduate web pages.

Further information about graduate study in EES may be obtained by contacting:

  • Dr. Kenneth Kodama, Graduate Director
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Lehigh University
  • 1 W. Packer Avenue
  • Bethlehem, Pa. 18105-3001
  • Phone: 610-758-3660
  • Fax: 610-758-3677

Finances and Life

Financial Aid

Financial assistance in the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships, scholarships, and university and departmental fellowships is awarded to applicants on a competitive basis. Teaching-assistant stipends are in excess of $20,000 for the 9-month academic year. In addition, teaching assistants receive tuition remission for up to 9 credits per semester and 3 credits during the summer. Fellowship and research assistantship stipends are comparable to the stipends for teaching assistants; Students who have an approved thesis proposal receive a slightly higher pay rate. Students making satisfactory progress are normally supported until the completion of their degree program. Financial support for the three summer months is common but not guaranteed and usually comes from a range of sources.

Cost of Study

Graduate tuition for the 2016-2017 academic year is $1420 per credit. Tuition expenses are paid for teaching assistants and research assistants.


A wide variety of rental accommodations is available in the Lehigh Valley around Bethlehem, ranging in flavor from urban to rural. Expenses can be reasonable, especially if shared. Also, in addition to some limited on-campus housing for graduate students, Lehigh operates an apartment complex for single and married students located in nearby Saucon Valley; day care is available nearby and hourly bus service is provided. Residential Services provides some on-campus graduate housing and also offers information about the local rental market.

Life In and Out of EES

For more information about the EES department and our programs, please explore our web pages. You might be particuarly interested in overviews of our degree programs and our research activities (including work in tectonics, ecology, geochemistry, geophysics, environmental change, and Earth surface processes). You may also want to review some of the more detailed information about our graduate culture and procedures found in our graduate handbook. Finally, you might be interested in a list of M.S. and Ph.D. theses from the past decade or so.

Bethlehem is a thriving community that's reinvented itself following the loss of the steel industry while still retaining a deep sense of history. Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley have their roots in this country's earliest days (Ben Franklin slept here!) and the region was the nucleus of the Industrial Revolution in America. Now, it's becoming an increasingly popular destination for young professionals looking for a good quality of life while having close access to New York and Philly.

Thanks again for your interest!

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image of sorry-looking grad students I mean sheep

Don't follow the herd...

Contact Information

EES Department
Lehigh University
1 West Packer Avenue
Bethlehem, PA 18015-3001

+1 (610) 758-3660
+1 (610) 758-3677 (fax)

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