Subsurface Geoscience

Subsurface Geoscience
203 Keck Hall

Colin A. Zelt
Faculty Director

Dagmar Beck
PSM Program Director

The professional master's degree in Subsurface Geoscience is designed for students who wish to become proficient in applying geological knowledge and geophysical methods to finding and developing reserves of oil and natural gas.

The MSSG degree program offers three areas of specialization:

  • Energy Data Management: prepares students to understand exploration and production as a data-driven business, to become data enabled geoscientists to match demands in the energy industry, or
  • Geology: prepares students to be explorationists, with strong skills in using seismic and other geophysical methods along with geological principles to find oil and natural gas, or
  • Geophysics: prepares students to become technical experts in aspects of exploration seismology.

The MS in Subsurface Geoscience (MSSG) degree is part of the professional science master’s (PSM) program at Rice housed in the Wiess School of Natural Sciences. These master’s degrees are designed for students seeking to gain further scientific core expertise coupled with enhanced management and communication skills. They instill a level of scholastic proficiency that exceeds that of the bachelor’s level, and create the cross-functional aptitudes needed in modern industry. This program will allow students to move more easily into careers related to energy data management, geology, and/or geophysics.

A coordinated MBA/MSSG degrees program is also offered in conjunction with the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.

Subsurface Geoscience does not currently offer an academic program at the undergraduate level.


Colin A. Zelt


Jonathan Ajo-Franklin
Richard G. Gordon
Alan R. Levander
Julia K. Morgan
Fenglin Niu

Associate Professor

Helge Gonnerman

Assistant Professor

Melodie E. French

Adjunct Faculty

Kenneth Abdulah
Omer Alpak
Mauricio Araya
Kevin Biddle
Oner Celepcikay
Detlef Hohl
Jeffrey Nunn
Malcolm Ross
Kurt Rudolph
Eric Scott

For Rice University degree-granting programs:
To view the list of official course offerings, please see Rice’s Course Catalog
To view the most recent semester’s course schedule, please see Rice's Course Schedule

Description and Code Legend 

Note: Internally the university uses the following descriptions, codes, and abbreviations for this academic program. The following is a quick reference: 

Course Catalog/Schedule 

  • Course offerings/subject codes: Courses from various subjects may apply toward the graduate degree.

Department Description and Code

  • Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences: EEPS

Graduate Degree Description and Code

  • Master of Science in Subsurface Geoscience degree: MSSG

Graduate Degree Program Description and Code

  • Degree Program in Subsurface Geoscience: SGEO 

CIP Code and Description1

  • SGEO Major/Program: CIP Code/Title: 40.0601 - Geology/Earth Science, General