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The Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) is a joint center between the University of Maryland’s Departments of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, Geology, and Geography and the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. ESSIC provides research opportunities for graduate students interested in earth system science. ESSIC faculty, research faculty, and affiliated faculty in the three participating departments act as mentors. ESSIC does not offer graduate degrees. Rather, students interested in graduate studies related to Earth System Science are enrolled through one of the three participating departments depending on faculty and student interests. ESSIC provides opportunities for interdisciplinary interactions with students and faculty from other departments through participation in ESSIC seminars and other activities. ESSIC organizes a series of activities for Earth System fellows to foster interaction among students from the three departments involved in the many facets of Earth System Science.

Information for Prospective Students

Prospective students interested in Earth System Science are encouraged to contact the three participating departments, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, Department of Geography, and Department of Geology, depending on the aspect of Earth System Science of interest. General areas of interest pertinent to Earth System Science in each department are as follows:


When applying to the graduate program in one of the three departments, perspective students should indicate their interest in designation as an Earth System Fellow enabling participation in ESSIC activities.

Opportunities for Students

While ESSIC does not offer degrees, there are other opportunities for student involvement:


  • The ESSIC-administered Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies (CISESS) offers paid summer internships mentored by our scientists to work on NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) projects. We have a large range of topics including climate studies, satellite data assimilation, artificial intelligence, 3D visualization of meteorology maps, and more. See here for details.
  • Grand Challenges: Addressing Climate Challenges for a Sustainable Earth will soon be offering experiential education for students that integrates across multiple disciplines.