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Geosciences Master's Degree Requirements

Program | Faculty | Master's | Doctoral | Courses

Requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Geosciences

The general requirements for the M.S. degree are those of the Graduate School. In addition, the following are required (items 1-3 are normally satisfied as part of the candidate’s undergraduate studies):

1. A full year course in two of the following: biology, chemistry, physics.

2. A full year course of college mathematics or statistics, beyond the precalculus level, appropriate to the student’s course of study.

3. Six weeks of field training.

4. Participation in each semester of residence in GEO-SCI 701 Professional Seminar and at least one oral presentation of research results in this seminar.

5. An incoming candidate is given a diagnostic interview and assigned a temporary adviser. The candidate should then propose a guidance committee of three graduate faculty, for appointment by the Graduate Program Director. The program of study must be approved by the guidance committee. The committee conducts a semesterly review of the candidate’s program and progress.

6. A candidate may elect a program with or without a thesis. The former is appropriate for those with strongly focused research interests, and the latter for those wishing to emphasize breadth of geological or interdisciplinary knowledge. The thesis track requires the appointment of a thesis committee of three graduate faculty approved by the Graduate Program Director and the Dean of the Graduate School. The departmental requirement for M.S. thesis credits is 1-10. Candidates choosing a non-thesis program must have faculty approval. They will also take an oral General Examination and complete a research project. The content of the General Examination and the number of examiners will reflect the candidate’s choice of program. Further details are contained in the geosciences graduate student manual available in the department.

Master of Science Degree in Geography

The general requirements for the M.S. degree are those of the Graduate School as stated in the Graduate School Bulletin. In addition the following are required:

1. The M.S. degree requires 30 graduate course credits of which 22 must be in Geography (including thesis credits).

2. GEO-SCI 604 Geographic Theory and Analysis, a one-term seminar normally taken during the first term in residence.

3. One graduate course in methodology and techniques (not necessarily limited to courses offered in the Geography Program). Eligible courses include those primarily concerned with cartography, computer methods, statistics, survey research, geographic information systems, remote sensing, or photogrammetry. Other methodology courses may be approved to meet this requirement upon request to the Geography faculty. This requirement may not be satisfied through an independent study or special problems course.

4. Additional courses in at least four subfields selected from the following list:
a. Climatology
b. Geomorphology and Quaternary Studies
c. Land and Water Policy and Natural Hazards
d. Cartography and Spatial Data Analysis (also satisfies Requirement 3: “Methodology and Techniques”)
e. Urban and Economic Development Studies
f. Social and Behavioral Studies.
Up to two subfields may be waived by the faculty based on upper-level undergraduate or graduate courses previously completed by the student with a grade of B or better. Courses taken at the graduate level in other departments may satisfy up to two subfields upon written request to the Geography faculty.

5. Each entering student will be interviewed by the faculty and assigned a temporary adviser. The student will work out with the adviser a proposed program of study. Progress in that program will be reviewed each semester by the faculty as a whole. Any deficiencies in the student’s preparation for graduate study will be identified at the beginning of the student’s program and appropriate courses may be required.

6. A candidate may elect a program with or without a thesis. The former is appropriate for those with strong focused research interests, and the latter for those wishing to emphasize breadth of geographic and interdisciplinary knowledge. The thesis is encouraged by the faculty for most students. No later than the end of the third semester, a student must have either a thesis or nonthesis proposal approved.
If the thesis option is selected, the candidate must deliver an informal lecture on the subject of such thesis in the Department Seminar (GEO-SCI 388) or equivalent forum. The candidate must also pass an oral thesis examination (defense).
If a nonthesis option is selected, the student must propose by the end of the third semester a major paper, set of papers, or equivalent project satisfactory to his/her adviser and at least one additional Geography faculty member (who will comprise the student’s Graduate Committee). In addition to completing such paper or project, the student must pass a General Examination administered by at least three members of the Department Graduate Faculty. A general examination may be administered either orally or in writing or both, and must include questions from at least two subfields selected by the student from the list in item 3 above.

7. Under the thesis option, no more than 6 credits, in addition to thesis credits, may be earned through independent studies (596, 696 ...) or special problems (597, 697 ...) courses. Under the nonthesis option, no more than 12 credits may be earned in such courses.

8. Under the thesis option, the student may elect to register for as many as 10 thesis credits (GEO-SCI 699), which will be counted toward the 30 required graduate credits. No thesis credits will be accepted under the nonthesis option. (N.B. The Graduate School Regulations require that at least 6 credits be earned at the 600-800 level for the thesis option and 12 credits at that level for the nonthesis option.)