Graduate Programs

Masters and PhD Degree Programs

A Mines degree prepares you for leadership in the mining industry or in academia.

When you study in the Mining Engineering Department at Mines, you will be part of highly regarded programs that are ranked among the very best.

Our graduate programs each offer a unique mix of interdisciplinary opportunities. We offer flexible curriculums and study concentrations, allowing you to tailor your degree to your interests and your goals.

We have an excellent record of career placement. Most of our master’s students enter an industry, working for leading firms or building their own startups. Also, many of our master’s graduates enter elite PhD programs, including here at Mines.

Mining Engineering – Highly Ranked


Sources: U.S. News & World Report, Academic Analytics, Shanghai Ranking, Money Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Luminosity, Payscale, SmartAsset, Business First, Forbes

The Mining Engineering area or specialty is predominantly for mining engineers and it is directed towards the traditional mining engineering fields. Graduate work is normally centered around subject areas such as mine planning and development, computer aided mine design, rock mechanics, operations research applied to the mineral industry, environment and sustainability considerations, mine mechanization, mine evaluation, finance and management and similar mining engineering topics.

The Earth Resources Science and Engineering specialty is for those who wish to specialize in interdisciplinary fields that include understanding emerging technical and social issues in Earth Resources Science and Engineering.  This specialty is open to students with mining or non-mining engineering undergraduate degrees who are interested in scholarship and research on topics including, but not limited to, mining and sustainability, mine closure and reclamation engineering, corporate social responsibility, artisanal and small-scale mining, underground construction and tunneling engineering, mining and the environment, modeling and design in earth systems and processes, geothermal, explosive engineering, mine and construction management, mining related data science, earth observation for mine environmental monitoring and design and application of sensor networks, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for autonomous mine systems.  Because of the interdisciplinary nature of this degree program, students will be required to take three core classes in the Mining Engineering Department and then choose courses related to their area of interest offered by mining, as well as other departments across campus.

The Underground Community at Mines is comprised of a collaborative, interdisciplinary group of faculty and students from civil engineering, geology and geological engineering, mining engineering and mechanical engineering, as well as geophysics and computer science, with a collective interest in education and research in underground engineering.

Program Requirements

The Master of Science degree in Mining and Earth Systems Engineering has two options available. Master of Science – Thesis and Master of Science – Non-Thesis. Thesis Option requires a minimum of 21 semester credit hours of course work and 6 semester credits of research, approved by student’s graduate committee, plus a master’s thesis. The Master of Science – Non-Thesis option must complete a minimum of 24-30 credit hours of course work of which 0-6 credit hours may be applied towards the analytical report writing, if required.

The Master of Engineering degree (Engineer of Mines) in Mining Engineering includes all the requirements for the M.S. degree, with the sole exception that an “engineering ­report” is required rather than a Master’s Thesis.

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Mining and Earth Systems Engineering requires a total of 72 credit hours, beyond the bachelor’s degree. A maximum of 48 credit hours of course work, and a minimum of 24 hours of research credit is required. Those with an MSc in an appropriate field may transfer a maximum of 30 credit hours of course work towards the 48 credit hour requirement upon the approval of the advisor and thesis committee. The thesis must be successfully defended before a doctoral committee.


Students entering a graduate program for the master’s or doctor’s degree are expected to have had much the same under­graduate training as that required at Colorado School of Mines in mining, if they are interested in the traditional mining specialty. Students interested in the Earth Systems engi­neering specialty with different engineering sub-disciplinary background may also require special mining engineering subjects depending upon their graduate program. Deficiencies if any, will be determined by the Department of Mining Engineering on the basis of students’ education, experience, and graduate study.

For Specific information on prerequisites, students are encouraged to visit

Required Curriculum

Graduate students, depending upon their specialty and background may be required to complete two of the three core courses listed below during their program of study at Mines.

These courses are:

  • MNGN508. Advanced Rock Mechanics
  • MNGN512 – Surface Mine Design
  • MNGN516 – Underground Mine Design

In addition, all full-time graduate students are required to register for and attend MNGN625 – Graduate Mining Seminar each semester while in residence, except in the case of extreme circumstances. For these circumstances, consideration will be given on a case-by-case basis by the coordinator or the Department Head. 

Graduate Courses

500-level courses are open to qualified seniors with permission of the department and Dean of the Graduate School. 600-level courses are open only to students enrolled in the Graduate School.

MNGN503 – MINING TECHNOLOGY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (I, II) Fundamental principles of sustainability and how they influence the technical components of a mine’s life cycle, beginning during project feasibility and extending through operations to closure and site reclamation. Course discussions will address a wide range of traditional engineering topics that have specific relevance and impact to local and regional communities, such as mining methods and systems, mine plant design and layout, mine operations and supervision, resource utilization and cutoff grades, and labor. The course will emphasize the importance of integrating social, political, and economic considerations into technical decision-making and problem solving. 3 hours lecture; 3 credit hours.

MNGN507 – ADVANCED DRILLING AND BLASTING (I) An advanced study of the theories of rock penetration including percussion, rotary, and rotary percussion drilling. Rock fragmentation including explosives and the theories of blasting rock. Application of theory to drilling and blasting practice at mines, pits, and quarries. Prerequisite: MNGN407 or consent of Instructor. 3 hours lecture; 3 credit hours. Offered in odd years.

MNGN508 – ADVANCED ROCK MECHANICS Analytical and numerical modeling analysis of stresses and displacements induced around engineering excavations in rock. In situ stress. Rock failure criteria. Complete load deformation behavior of rocks. Measurement and monitoring techniques in rock mechanics. Principles of design of excavation in rocks. Analytical, numerical modeling and empirical design methods. Probabilistic and deterministic approaches to rock engineering designs. Excavation design examples for shafts, tunnels, large chambers and mine pillars. Seismic loading of structures in rock. Phenomenon of rock burst and its alleviation. Prerequisite: MNGN321 or consent of Instructor. 3 hours lecture; 3 credit hours.

MNGN510 – FUNDAMENTALS OF MINING AND MINERAL RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT Specifically designed for non-majors, the primary focus of this course is to provide students with a fundamental understanding of how mineral resources are found, developed, mined, and ultimately reclaimed. The course will present a wide range of traditional engineering and economic topics related to: exploration and resource characterization, project feasibility, mining methods and systems, mine plant design and layout, mine operations and scheduling, labor, and environmental and safety considerations. The course will emphasize the importance of integrating social (human), political, and environmental issues into technical decision-making and design. 3 hours lecture; 3 credit hours.

MNGN512 – SURFACE MINE DESIGN Analysis of elements of surface mine operation and design of surface mining system components with emphasis on minimization of adverse environmental impact and maximization of efficient and sustainable use of mineral resources. Ore estimates, unit operations, equipment selection, final pit determinations, short- and long-range planning, life cycle aspects of design, road layouts, dump planning, and cost estimation. Prerequisite: MNGN210 or consent of Instructor. 3 hours lecture; 3 credit hours.

MNGN516 – UNDERGROUND MINE DESIGN Selection, design, and development of most suitable underground mining methods based upon the physical and the geological properties of mineral deposits (metallics and nonmetallics), sustainability and life-cycle engineering considerations, and associated environmental impacts. Reserve estimates, development and production planning, engineering drawings for development and extraction, underground haulage systems, and cost estimates. Prerequisite: MNGN210 or consent of Instructor. 2 hours lecture, 3 hours lab; 3 credit hours.

MNGN518 – ADVANCED BULK UNDERGROUND MINING TECHNIQUES This course will provide advanced knowledge and understanding of the current state-of-the-art in design, development, and production in underground hard rock mining using bulk-mining methods. Design and layout of sublevel caving, block caving, open stoping and blasthole stoping systems. Equipment selection, production scheduling, ventilation design, and mining costs. Prerequisites: MNGN314, MNGN516, or consent of Instructor. 2 hours lecture, 3 hours lab; 3 credit hours. Spring of odd years.

MNGN520 – ROCK MECHANICS IN UNDERGROUND COAL MINING (I) Rock mechanics consideration in the design of room-and-pillar, longwall, and shortwall coal mining systems. Evaluation of bump and outburst conditions and remedial measures. Methane drainage systems. Surface subsidence evaluation. Prerequisite: MNGN321 or consent of Instructor. 3 hours lecture; 3 credit hours. Offered in odd years.

MNGN523 – SELECTED TOPICS (I, II) Special topics in mining engineering, incorporating lectures, laboratory work or independent study, depending on needs. This course may be repeated for additional credit only if subject material is different. Prerequisite: consent of Instructor. 2 to 4 credit hours. Repeatable for credit under different titles.

MNGN524 – ADVANCED MINE VENTILATION (I) Advanced topics of mine ventilation including specific ventilation designs for various mining methods, ventilation numerical modeling, mine atmosphere management, mine air cooling, prevention and ventilation response to mine fires and explosions, mine dust control. Prerequisites: MNGN424 or consent of Instructor. Lecture and Lab Contact Hours: 3 hours lecture; 3 credit hours.

MNGN525 – INTRODUCTION TO NUMERICAL TECHNIQUES IN ROCK MECHANICS (I) Principles of stress and infinitesimal strain analysis are summarized, linear constitutive laws and energy methods are reviewed. Continuous and laminated models of stratified rock masses are introduced. The general concepts of the boundary element and finite element methods are discussed. Emphasis is placed on the boundary element approach with displacement discontinuities, because of its relevance to the modeling of the extraction of tabular mineral bodies and to the mobilization of faults, joints, etc. Several practical problems, selected from rock mechanics and subsidence engineering practices, are treated to demonstrate applications of the techniques. Prerequisite: MNGN321, EGGN320, or equivalent courses, MATH455 or consent of Instructor. 3 hours lecture; 3 credit hours. Offered in even years.

MNGN528 – MINING GEOLOGY (I) Role of geology and the geologist in the development and production stages of a mining operation. Topics addressed: mining operation sequence, mine mapping, drilling, sampling, reserve estimation, economic evaluation, permitting, support functions. Field trips, mine mapping, data evaluation, exercises and term project. Prerequisite: GEGN401 or GEGN405 or consent of Instructor. 2 hours lecture/seminar, 3 hours laboratory: 3 credit hours. Offered in even years.

MNGN536 – OPERATIONS RESEARCH TECHNIQUES IN THE MINERAL INDUSTRY Analysis of exploration, mining, and metallurgy systems using statistical analysis. Monte Carlo methods, simulation, linear programming, and computer methods. Prerequisite: MNGN433 or consent of Instructor. 2 hours lecture, 3 hours lab; 3 credit hours. Offered in even years.

MNGN538 – GEOSTATISTICAL ORE RESERVE ESTIMATION (I) Introduction to the application and theory of geostatistics in the mining industry. Review of elementary statistics and traditional ore reserve calculation techniques. Presentation of fundamental geostatistical concepts, including: variogram, estimation variance, block variance, kriging, geostatistical simulation. Emphasis on the practical aspects of geostatistical modeling in mining. Prerequisite: MATH323 or equivalent course in statistics; graduate or senior status. 3 hours lecture; 3 credit hours.

MNGN539 – ADVANCED MINING GEOSTATISTICS (II) Advanced study of the theory and application of geostatistics in mining engineering. Presentation of state-of-the-art geostatistical concepts, including: robust estimation, nonlinear geostatistics, disjunctive kriging, geostatistical simulation, computational aspects. This course includes presentations by many guest lecturers from the mining industry. Emphasis on the development and application of advanced geostatistical techniques to difficult problems in the mining industry today. 3 hours lecture; 3 credit hours. Offered in odd years.

MNGN540 – CLEAN COAL TECHNOLOGY (I, II) Clean Energy – Gasification of Carbonaceous Materials – including coal, oil, gas, plastics, rubber, municipal waste and other substances.

MNGN545 – ROCK SLOPE ENGINEERING Introduction to the analysis and design of slopes excavated in rock. Rock mass classification and strength determinations, geological structural parameters, properties of fracture sets, data collection techniques, hydrological factors, methods of analysis of slope stability, wedge intersections, monitoring and maintenance of final pit slopes, classification of slides. Deterministic and probabilistic approaches in slope design. Remedial measures. Laboratory and field exercise in slope design. Collection of data and specimens in the field for deterring physical properties required for slope design. Application of numerical modeling and analytical techniques to slope stability determinations for hard rock and soft rock environments. Prerequisite: consent of Instructor. 3 hours lecture. 3 credit hours.

MNGN549 – MARINE MINING SYSTEMS (I) Define interdisciplinary marine mining systems and operational requirements for the exploration survey, sea floor mining, hoisting, and transport. Describe and design components of deep-ocean, manganese-nodule mining systems and other marine mineral extraction methods. Analyze dynamics and remote control of the marine mining systems interactions and system components. Describe the current state-of-the-art technology, operational practice, trade-offs of the system design and risk. Prerequisite: EGGN351, EGGN320, GEOC408 or consent of Instructor. 3 hours lecture; 3 credit hours. Offered alternate even years.

MNGN560 – INDUSTRIAL MINERALS PRODUCTION (II) This course describes the engineering principles and practices associated with quarry mining operations related to the cement and aggregate industries. The course will cover resource definition, quarry planning and design, extraction, and processing of minerals for cement and aggregate production. Permitting issues and reclamation, particle sizing and environmental practices, will be studied in depth.

MNGN565 – MINE RISK MANAGEMENT Fundamentals of identifying, analyzing, assessing and treating risks associated with the feasibility, development and operation of mines. Methodologies for identifying, assessing and treating risks will be presented and practiced in case studies and exercises. Concepts and principles for analyzing risks will be demonstrated and practiced utilizing deterministic and stochastic models, deductive models, decision trees and other applicable principles. Prerequisite: Senior in Mining, graduate status or Instructor’s consent. 3 hours lecture; 3 semester hours.

(II) Earth resource industries are increasingly being called on to contribute to sustainable development in the communities and regions in which they take place. In this graduate level course, students will develop an understanding and appreciation of the ways in which resource extraction projects can contribute to sustainable development. The course will be framed around the UN Sustainable Development Goals and will include the following elements: 1) examination of sustainable development principles relevant to mining and energy projects and current best practices and continuing challenges; 2) critical assessment of necessary elements of corporate social responsibility policies and practices; 3) evaluation of stakeholder roles and specify strategies for effective stakeholder engagement; 4) identification of criteria for engineering and management that contribute to sustainable development; and 5) evaluation of real cases that demonstrate where social license to operate was either gained/maintained or not granted/withdrawn. 2 hours lecture; 3 hours lab; 3 hours total.

This is a graduate course that applies a social science lens to understanding the intersections between energy and mineral developments and communities. In this seminar-style course, we will examine these intersections through a case study approach that includes directed readings, such as ethnographies and peer-reviewed journal articles, and that incorporates student-led discussions and research projects. By exploring various development initiatives, such as oil and gas, mining, wind, solar, nuclear, and hydropower, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the energy-mineral-society nexus and the role communities play in both furthering and limiting these developments. 3 hours lecture; 3 semester hours.

MNGN585 – MINING ECONOMICS (I) Advanced study in mine valuation with emphasis on revenue and cost aspects. Topics include price and contract consideration in coal, metal and other commodities; mine capital and operating cost estimation and indexing; and other topics of current interest. Prerequisite: MNGN427 or EBGN504 or equivalent. 3 hours lecture; 3 credit hours. Offered in even years.

MNGN598 – SPECIAL TOPICS IN MINING ENGINEERING (I, II) Pilot course or special topics course. Topics chosen from special interests of instructor(s) and student(s). Usually the course is offered only once. Prerequisite: consent of Instructor. Variable credit; 1 to 6 credit hours. Repeatable for credit under different titles.

MNGN599 – INDEPENDENT STUDY (I, II) Individual research or special problem projects supervised by a faculty member. When a student and instructor agree on a subject matter, content, method of assessment, and credit hours, it must be approved by the Department Head. Prerequisite: “Independent Study” form must be completed and submitted to the Registrar. Variable credit; 1 to 6 credit hours. Repeatable for credit.

MNGN698 – SPECIAL TOPICS IN MINING ENGINEERING (I, II) Pilot course or special topics course. Topics chosen from special interests of instructor(s) and student(s). Usually the course is offered only once. Prerequisite: consent of Instructor. Variable credit; 1 to 6 credit hours. Repeatable for credit under different titles.

MNGN699 – INDEPENDENT STUDY (I, II) Individual research or special problem projects supervised by a faculty member. When a student and instructor agree on a subject matter, content, method of assessment, and credit hours, it must be approved by the Department Head. Prerequisite: “Independent Study” form must be completed and submitted to the Registrar. Variable credit; 1 to 6 credit hours. Repeatable for credit.

MNGN700 – GRADUATE ENGINEERING ­REPORT-MASTER OF ENGINEERING (I, II) Laboratory, field, and library work for the Master of Engineering report under supervision of the student’s advisory committee. Required of candidates for the degree of Master of Engineering. Variable 1 to 6 hours. Repeatable for credit to a maximum of 6 hours.

MNGN707 – GRADUATE THESIS / DISSERTATION RESEARCH CREDIT (I, II, S) Research credit hours required for completion of a Masters-level thesis or Doctoral dissertation. Research must be carried out under the direct supervision of the student’s faculty advisor. Variable class and credit hours. Repeatable for credit.

Time Tables and Suggested Courses

There is considerable flexibility in selecting coursework for the program. Courses actually selected from the following lists will be based on the students background and interest. The rate of completion of the courses will vary depending on the student. Many students limit their semester course load to 9 to 12 hours.

Suggested Time Table For MS Thesis Option Programs

  • First Semester- Meet temporary advisor; start clearing deficiencies (if any), select potential thesis area(s); background research. Request thesis advisor and committee; first meeting with full committee.
  • Second Semester- Obtain committee approval of course program and research topic; continue course work.
  • Third Semester- Complete course work; actively pursue research.
  • Fourth Semester- Complete thesis and take oral defense.

Suggested Time Table for PhD Program*

  • First Semester-Begin course work; select area of research interest, request thesis advisor.
  • Second Semester- Continue course work; obtain graduate committee; present dissertation proposal for committee approval.
  • Third Semester-Take Doctoral Qualifying Examination; complete course work; satisfy language requirement.
  • Fourth Semester-Take comprehensive examination; actively pursue research; apply for Admission to Candidacy.
  • Fifth Semester- Continue research.
  • Sixth Semester- Complete research and defense of dissertation.

The fourth through sixth semester period can be foreshortened by summer work and more intense efforts.

*This time table assumes the Ph.D. graduate student has completed requirements for the M.S degree in Mining Engineering.

The Department of Mining Engineering offers program flexibility

Master of Science (thesis or non-thesis)


Interdisciplinary Programs (MS & PhD)

And the 4+1 BS and MS Program

  • Complete any Undergraduate and Master’s degree in just 5 years

In 2024, the year of our 150th anniversary, we will celebrate Colorado School of Mines’ past, present and possibilities. By celebrating and supporting the Campaign for MINES@150 you will help elevate Mines to be an accessible, top-of-mind and first-choice for students, faculty, staff, recruiters and other external partners. The Mining department’s goals for Mines@150 include upgrading facilities, scholarships, and continuing to build on student experiences both in the classroom and out in the field. When you give, you are ensuring Mines becomes even more distinctive and highly sought-after by future students, alumni, industry, and government partners over the next 150 years. We look forward to celebrating Mines’ sesquicentennial with you and recognizing the key role you play in making the MINES@150 vision a reality through your investments of time, talent and treasure. Give now