Jun 13, 2024  
2016-2017 Graduate Bulletin 
2016-2017 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED BULLETIN]

Geosciences, Non-Thesis Option, M.S.

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Master’s Degree Programs

A master’s degree can be earned through either a thesis or a non-thesis program. In the non-thesis program, a non-thesis report is substituted for the thesis and six credit hours of course work are added.


Applicants must satisfy the general admission requirements of the Graduate School. They must also be approved by the Graduate Advisor and satisfy the following requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in natural science, physical science, mathematics, or engineering.
  • An undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0. Students who do not satisfy this requirement but have at least a 3.0 GPA in their major field may be admitted on probation at the discretion of the Graduate Advisor.
  • Probationary status is removed by completing nine credit hours of approved graduate study with a GPA of 3.0 or higher in one semester for a full-time student and within three terms for a part-time student.
  • Letters of recommendation from at least three professors or former supervisors who are familiar with the applicant’s work performance and academic potential.
  • If the student’s undergraduate major is not in one of the geological sciences, admission to the Graduate School may be deferred and the student is required to take appropriate undergraduate geosciences courses, as determined by the Graduate Advisor, before reevaluation for admission. These deficiencies may, under certain circumstances and with the approval of the Graduate Advisor, be made up after admission to the Graduate School.
  • All applicants are required to take the General Graduate Record Examination.
  • Applicants to the non-thesis option whose native language is not English must also take the TOEFL examination and score at least 85 on the internet-based exam or 563 on the paper exam for admission to the non-thesis option. Non-native English speakers may also submit a minimum score of 6.5 from the IELTS examination. Applicants to the thesis option are expected to submit a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the internet-based exam or 577 on the paper exam, with at least a score of 22 on the Writing subsection. Exceptional applicants with TOEFL scores below these published minimums may be admitted conditionally and required to take deficiency courses in English or retake the TOEFL examination.

General Requirements

A 3.0 grade point average is the minimum needed for all master’s degree programs.

No graduate credit is allowed for a course in which a grade lower than C has been received. Thesis and report grades are recorded on a pass-fail basis and are not computed in grade point averages, although a passing grade in all thesis or report credit hours is required.

Initial advisement of all master’s program students is by a departmental Graduate Program Advisor. Students are expected to select a general research area and to make arrangements with a research advisor during their first year. The research advisor approves the remainder of the course of study and supervises the student’s research.

All courses taken for graduate credit in these programs shall be selected from those listed in this Bulletin, except for students concentrating in environmental geoscience, and the choices are subject to the approval of the student’s advisor, the thesis committee, and the Graduate Advisor. Students concentrating in environmental geoscience may take up to 6 hours in the College of Law, which will be taken pass/fail and counted as courses outside the major discipline.

Non-Thesis Program Requirements

Minimum credit hours outside major discipline 6    
Required credit hours of non-thesis option report 3  
Minimum credit hours of at least 7000 level, excluding report 15  
Minimum credit hours in major discipline, excluding report 9  
Maximum credit hours in independent study 6  
Maximum credit hours of 6000-level course work 15  
Minimum total credit hours 36  

Students may be required to complete prerequisite undergraduate courses and remove deficiencies without graduate credit, resulting in a program of more than 36 credit hours. Students intending to take the non-thesis option should declare to the Graduate School at the end of their first semester (or for part-time students, after completing nine credit hours). This option requires the approval of the departmental chair and the Dean of the Graduate School. At the time of enrollment in a non-thesis option, the student must select both a general area in which to write a report and a member of the graduate faculty willing to supervise the report and approve the remainder of the study program. The report is the culmination of independent study and may be the result of an extensive literature search, fieldwork, laboratory work, or similar effort. The report must follow the general guidelines for writing a thesis and is subject to the advisor’s approval. Students in the non-thesis option must enroll in GEOL 7913  or GPHY 7913  for the report portion of their program.

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