About the Program

About the Program:

The Biogeochemistry Dual-Title Graduate Program continues the tradition of the Biogeochemical Research Initiative for Education (BRIE), which was funded from 1999-2006 by the National Science Foundation’s Integrated Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) grant. The establishment of the Biogeochemistry Dual-Title Ph.D. was a transformational outcome of Penn State’s commitment to permanent institutional change and interdisciplinary graduate training.

The Program:

For PhD students

The Biogeochemistry Dual-Title Degree Program is administered by the Department of Geosciences and Department of Ecosystem Science and Management for the participating graduate programs. A program committee with representatives from participating graduate departments maintains program definition, identifies courses appropriate to the program, and recommends policy and procedures for the program’s operation to the dean of the Graduate School and to the deans of the participating colleges. The dual-title degree program is offered through participating programs in the:

College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

College of Agricultural Sciences

College of Engineering

Eberly College of Science

Intercollege Graduate Degree Programs

The program enables students to learn about perspectives, techniques, and methodological approaches in the field of biogeochemistry, while maintaining a close association with major program areas of study.

For admission to pursue a dual-title degree under this program, a student must apply to (1) the Graduate School and (2) one of the participating major graduate programs; and then subsequently to (3) the Biogeochemistry program committee. Students may only apply to the dual-title program once they have been accepted into a major program. Once a student has been accepted to a major program, application to the dual-title degree program can occur immediately or at a later time, such as upon matriculation. The application to the dual-title degree program, however, should be completed before the candidacy examination in the major program is scheduled.

Biogeochemistry students complete the requirements for their major graduate program and, in addition, 15 specific credits. Here is a list of classes that count toward the 15 credits of biogeochemistry courses listed in the Biogeochemistry Curriculum Table.

For Masters students

Students can obtain a minor in biogeochemistry by completing 6 credit hours of biogeochemistry courses listed in the Biogeochemistry Curriculum Table. Students will need to notify their advisor that they wish to get the minor and fill out paperwork.


If you know what academic home you will have and are interested in the program but unsure about the course work, time commitment, or whether the dual-title is a good route for your graduate program, here is a list of people who would be happy to answer your questions or talk to you about the program:

Chemistry: Paulina Piotrowski

Civil and Environmental Engineering: Diana Ayala

Ecology: Curt McConnell

Geosciences: Ben Barnes

Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology: Philip Martin

Soil Science: Mara Cloutier