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MS in Geology

Master of Science in Geology

The Master of Science in Geology is designed to provide strong preparation in geological sciences, focused directly on geological study and research. The program is designed so that it can potentially be completed in two years of full-time work. This program is intended for students who wish to pursue graduate level work as a prelude for doctoral studies, or as professional preparation for careers in geological fields.

Department Graduate Committee and Thesis Advisor

The Geology Graduate Admissions Committee consists of the graduate program coordinator and two or more faculty members available for consultation. This committee will determine whether students are adequately prepared for graduate study in Geology, and has general supervision over the work of students progressing toward the master's degree.

Each new graduate student will consult with the graduate program coordinator for academic advising until the student has been accepted by a thesis advisor.  All students are responsible for selecting their thesis advisor and, in turn, must be accepted by the thesis advisor.  Early in their graduate studies, students in consultation with their thesis advisor, will select a thesis committee including the thesis advisor and at least two other faculty from the Department of Geological Sciences.  When appropriate, one member of the committee may be a person from another department or another institution who has expertise in the area of proposed thesis research.  The student, in consultation with their thesis committee, will develop a program of specific courses and an acceptable thesis proposal based on the student's interests, abilities and preparation. The thesis advisor will guide the research. The program of courses and the research topic, as well as any subsequent modification of these, are subject to approval by the student's thesis committee, the Graduate Coordinator, and the Dean of Graduate Studies.  Upon completion of the research, an oral defense consisting primarily of discussion of the thesis research is required.  Successful completion of the defense includes acceptance of the final thesis by the thesis committee.

Students enrolled in the graduate program wishing to take courses off campus and include them in the degree program must petition the Graduate Coordinator for approval, otherwise the course may not be accepted as part of the program. Extension courses at the X1000- to X9999-level are not applicable to the graduate program. Courses at the 3000- and 4000-level, other than those specified as possible electives in the program will be accepted only by written approval of the committee. Courses taken to satisfy quantitative or qualitative deficiencies cannot be applied toward a master's degree. Repeat of courses require approval of the Graduate Coordinator and will be granted only for serious and compelling reasons.

Admission to the Program

Specific requirements for admission to classified graduate status are:

  1. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university;
  2. Completion of an undergraduate major in geology or associated fields (e.g., geography or environmental studies) with at least 24 semester units of upper-division geology course work;
  3. One year each of laboratory courses in: general chemistry and physics;
  4. One full-term course in basic calculus or methods in calculus;
  5. One full-term course in Geographic Information Systems;
  6. A cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 in all courses used for credit in the major;
  7. Submission of scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) to the Geology Graduate Admissions Committee;
  8. Submission to the Graduate Coordinator of a one-page, typewritten statement of the student's preparation for graduate study, goals in the graduate program, potential area of research and possible advisor, and professional goals following completion of the M.S.;
  9. Submission of three letters of recommendation from people who are in a position to make relevant comments on the student's intent and potential for success in the program. At least two of the letters should be from current or former college or university faculty familiar with the student's scholarship and related activities.

Students are considered for admission for the fall semester.  Under compelling circumstances, applications may be considered for spring semester.  Please consult the Graduate Coordinator for more information.

Advancement to Candidacy

To be advanced to candidacy, the student must have:

  1. Achieved classified status;
  2. Been accepted by a major advisor from the M.S. in Geology program;
  3. Completed at least 6 semester units of work applicable to the degree program as a graduate student at this university, and with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 ("B");
  4. Submitted a formal program of graduate course work, in addition to a thesis proposal, prepared in consultation with and approved by the student’s thesis committee, and approved by the graduate coordinator;
  5. Gained final approval of the program and of the candidacy itself by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Requirements for Graduation

  1. A minimum of 30 semester units of acceptable graduate level work included in the formal program, with no less than 21 units completed in residence at this University and with at least 21 units gained from 5000- and 6000-level courses approved by the program;
  2. Advancement to candidacy for the degree and approval of the specific program of courses;
  3. A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 ("B") in all graduate course work fulfilling the requirements of the program, and a grade of "C" (2.0) or better in each course in the program;
  4. Completion and defense of a thesis;
  5. The graduation writing requirement is met upon successful completion of the thesis, if not met earlier;
  6. Any additional general requirements not cited above and listed in Graduate Degree and Program Requirements.

Degree Requirements (30 units)

(Program Code: GEOL)

Core Courses (6)  
GEOL 6000 Advanced Environmental Chemistry and Geosciences 4
or CHEM 6000 Advanced Environmental Chemistry and Geosciences
GEOL 6900 Graduate Seminar 2
or CHEM 6900 Graduate Seminar

cross listed as GEOL 6900

Electives (15)  
A minimum of 15 units, at least 6 of which are 5000- or 6000-level courses (some of these elective courses have prerequisites that must be satisfied before the course can be taken). 15

CHEM 5903

Directed Laboratory Research  

CHEM 5200

Instrumental Analysis  

GEOG 3710

Advanced Geographic Information Systems  

GEOG 3730

Geo-Spatial Analysis  

GEOG 4860

GIS and Socio-Economic Applications  

GEOG 4400


GEOL 3700

Groundwater Hydrology  

GEOL 3750

Field Methods in Hydrology  

GEOL 4100

Engineering Geology  

GEOL 5000

Advanced Topics in Geology  

GEOL 5000L

Laboratory for Advanced Topics in Geology  

GEOL 5200


GEOL 5220

Neotectonics and Seismic Hazard Analysis  

GEOL 5240

Volcanology and Volcanic Hazard Assessment  

GEOL 5260

Advanced Structural Geology  

GEOL 5280

Digital Mapping and GIS for Scientists  

GEOL 5300


GEOL 5400

Environmental Hydrology  

GEOL 5420

Geochemical Thermodynamics  

GEOL 5440

Environmental Geochemistry  

GEOL 5460

Low-temperature Geochemistry  

GEOL 5600

Earth Resources  

GEOL 5620

Site Investigation, Siting, and Case Histories in Engineering Geology  

GEOL 5751

Internship in Geology  

GEOL 5752

Internship in Geology  

GEOL 5753

Internship in Geology  

GEOL 5951

Independent Study  

GEOL 5952

Independent Study  

GEOL 5953

Independent Study  

GEOL 6100

Graduate Geological Mapping  

GEOL 6752

Advanced Internship  
Culminating Experience (9) 9
Total Units 30

Culminating Experience (9 units)

The culminating experience in the M.S. in Geology is a research thesis and defense of the thesis. Students will be encouraged to publish their work in a peer-reviewed journal.

GEOL 6940 Graduate Research Methods and Design 3
GEOL 6950 Directed Graduate Research in Geology 3
GEOL 6970 Graduate Thesis 3
Total Units 9

To see more information, please also visit the MSEES page