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M.S. in Geophysics

Program Coordinator: Dr. Jeffrey Johnson | | (208) 426-4604

General Information

Boise State University offers a Master of Science in Geophysics through the Department of Geosciences. The degree requires 30 total credits distributed as follows: 12 graduate geophysics course credits, 12 credits in approved science or engineering courses, and at least 6 thesis research credits leading to an approved thesis. The overall goal of the graduate geophysics program is to provide a balanced education in the following areas:

  • geophysical theory and methods including the quantification of error and resolution;
  • problem definition, characteristics of an acceptable scientific solution, and an understanding of the effort required to reach an acceptable solution;
  • the interrelationship of geophysics with other scientific and engineering disciplines;
  • oral and written technical communication;
  • project management and teamwork;
  • an introduction to the geoscience profession beyond the classroom including the establishment of professional contacts.

Achievement of these educational objectives requires that a graduate student be exposed to classroom and laboratory instruction, thesis research, seminars, field trips, preparation of proposals and papers, presentations at professional meetings, short-term work assignments on sponsored projects, and interaction with a wide variety of faculty, research staff, students, and off-campus scientists and engineers. Current research emphases at BSU include the following:

  • applications of surface and borehole geophysical methods to hydrogeological, environmental, and engineering problems;
  • geophysical measurement of the engineering properties of earth materials;
  • determination of the relationship between geophysical and hydrological parameters;
  • use of marine sedimentology and borehole geophysics to study the interaction between the oceans and continental climate;
  • investigation of physical process dynamics during cold season flooding.

The geophysics program is well equipped with modern digital field instrumentation and computational facilities, and is closely tied to the Center for Geophysical Investigation of the Shallow Subsurface (CGISS) at BSU.

The Boise State University Master of Science program in geophysics interacts cooperatively with the University of Idaho (UI) Master of Science program in geophysics through the joint listing of graduate geophysics courses, the application of BSU graduate geophysics courses for UI credit, and the application of UI graduate geophysics courses for BSU credit. Cooperation is extended to Idaho State University (ISU) in that up to 12 credits earned in approved courses at ISU can be applied to a Master of Science in Geophysics at BSU or UI. In addition, faculty at BSU, UI, and ISU may form joint supervisory committees when expertise from outside of the student’s resident institution is judged to be beneficial. These cooperative efforts by BSU, UI, and ISU add flexibility and geographic accessibility to graduate education in geophysics within Idaho.

Graduate Assistantships, Teaching and Research Fellowships

Graduate assistantships and fellowships including tuition and fee waivers are funded from three sources: appropriated state funds, endowments, and research grants and contracts.  Information on graduate fellowships funded by research grants and contracts is available from individual faculty, or the Coordinator of the geophysics graduate program.

Graduate Program Committee

The Graduate Program Committee of the Department of Geosciences consists of the graduate program coordinators for the thesis-based geophysics, geoscience, hydrologic sciences degrees, and the non-thesis earth science degree, plus the chair of the Department. The duties of the Graduate Program Committee are defined by the Department and are consistent with policies set by the University. These duties include development of recommendations for admission of prospective graduate students, decisions on transfer credits and required background courses, recommendations for the award of departmental graduate fellowships and assistantships, and appointment of Supervisory Committees for graduate students.

Supervisory Committee

Each admitted student will be assigned a supervisory committee whose purpose is to design the program of courses, guide the student’s research, conduct the thesis defense, and approve the final thesis. The supervisory committee consists of at least three members: a chair from BSU who takes on the primary advising role, and at least two members chosen in any combination from BSU, UI, ISU, or other institutions (selection based on a direct interest in the student’s research). The Coordinator of the geophysics graduate program works closely with each supervisory committee and will serve as temporary advisor to each new student until a supervisory committee can be assigned.

Application and Admission Requirements

Applicants should have a B.S. or equivalent degree from an accredited institution in one of the following fields: geophysics, geology, hydrology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, or engineering. Evaluation for admission requires three personal references, transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, and scores on the GRE General Test. Students whose native language is not English must submit a TOEFL score of 587 or higher for the written exam and 240 or higher for the computer-based examination. A copy of a report resulting from a previous university course, professional position, or research experience is also requested as evidence of the applicant’s ability to complete a significant project and write an acceptable scientific report. Preference is given to those applicants whose records indicate a high probability for successful completion of publishable graduate research.  Application materials are available online.


Further questions may be directed to the Coordinator, Geophysics Doctoral Program, Boise State University, 1910 University Drive, Boise, ID 83725, telephone (208) 426-1416 or email:

For more information and degree requirements, please refer to the university catalogs.