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Graduate Program

MS Program

The department has a MS in geological sciences program, which emphasizes involvement in research projects. Typically, students joining the MS program do coursework during the first year and complete their MS research and thesis in their second year.

Undergraduate students already a part of the Department of Earth and Environmental Science (EES) can apply for the 3+2 master’s program. Students in this program typically continue their senior thesis research with their academic advisor. Graduate courses taken during the fourth year that are not required for the undergraduate degree program may be applied toward the master’s degree. 

For a complete list of requirements, including residency requirements and program of study deadlines, see page 23 of the Graduate Student Handbook (PDF).

Course Requirements

Students must complete three courses from at least three different sequences, plus at least two courses from your advisor’s sequence for a total of five courses. These courses should be chosen from the department course list

MS students who are a part of the 3+2 master’s program are required to complete at least three of the following core courses:

  • EES 405: Geophysics
  • EES 441: Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
  • EES 448: High Temperature Geochemistry
  • EES 453: Geodynamics
  • EES 456: Paleomagnetism and Global Plate Tectonics
  • EES 486: Sedimentology and Tectonics
  • EES 488: Geometry and Mechanics of Thrust Faults
  • EES 465: Paleoclimate
  • EES 412: Climate Change Perspective to Chemical Oceanography

Research, Reading, and Dissertation Courses for MS Students

EES 491: Reading (and research) courses credit hours may NOT exceed a total of six credit hours of the 30, and all reading courses must be approved by the associate dean of graduate studies. You can obtain the form for reading course approval from the department office.

EES 495: Master’s Research in Geology. Credit hours are assigned by the instructor, specific to each student’s needs. Note: you do not need to be enrolled in master’s research in order to actually be doing research.

EES 493: Master’s Essay. Enroll in this course during your final semester (i.e., the last semester before you graduate). Satisfactory completion of this course is based on the final decision of your advising committee (at least two faculty members).

EES 899: Master’s Dissertation. Enroll in this course during your final semester. Satisfactory completion of this course is based on the final decision of your advising committee (at least three faculty members). A completed, corrected copy of the final dissertation is to be turned in to the department office and one additional copy to each member of the committee. It is the student’s responsibility for production costs.

EES 895: Continuation of Master’s Enrollment: Once you are finished with the minimum requirements for the degree (i.e., 30–32 credit hours), if you plan to complete your degree off campus you must register for this course. You will be responsible for the continuation fee from that point onward ($1,035 per semester). This registration is “X” time status (less than part-time).

Requirements for Master’s Plan A (Thesis)

As part of plan A, students must:

  • Complete a minimum of 18 credit hours from courses numbered at the 400 level or higher.*
  • Complete EES 495: Research and EES 899: Master’s Dissertation.
    • The dissertation and associated research must provide a combined total of no less than six credit hours and normally no more than 12 credit hours.
  • Submit their master’s dissertation according to a predetermined format (booklet describing format is available in the department office)
  • Register their thesis with the Office of the Associate Dean at least one week prior to the oral examination (defense).
  • Provide copies to members of the examining committee at least one week before the oral examination and at least three weeks before commencement.
  • Pass a final oral examination (defense).
  • Provide a copy of your revised, accepted thesis to the Office of the Associate Dean and the department.

More details about the dissertation and defense process can be found on page 24 of the Graduate Student Handbook (PDF).

*Credits from EES 499 cannot be used to satisfy this requirement, although students are expected to register for EES 499 (one credit) for each semester that they are in residence.

Requirements for Master’s Plan B (Essay)

As part of plan B, students must:

  • Complete a minimum of 18 graduate credit hours from courses numbered at the 400 level or higher.*
  • Complete EES 493: Master’s Essay; total credit hours for EES 493 cannot exceed four credits.
  • Pass a comprehensive examination in their field of specialization.

More details about the essay and examination can be found on page 25 of the Graduate Student Handbook (PDF).

*Credits from EES 493, EES 495, and EES 499 cannot be used to satisfy this requirement, although students are expected to register for EES 499 (one credit) for each semester that they are in residence.

Research

EES 495: Master’s Research normally is not part of a plan B program. Student can take up to six credits of EES 495 with the approval of the associate dean but the total of EES 493 and EES 495 cannot exceed six credit hours.