Mar 21, 2018  
Graduate Catalog 2017-18 
Graduate Catalog 2017-18

Master of Science in Geosciences

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Advisor: Dr. Peter Voice
Room 3324, Rood Hall

The Master of Science in Geosciences is designed to prepare the student for professional work in geology and for further graduate study. The program has four core areas of specialization: Hydrogeology, Geochemistry and Economic Geology, Geophysics and Tectonics, Stratigraphy and Sedimentary Geology.

Please note: Under exceptional circumstances, a student may request that their advisor petition the faculty for approval of modifications to the timelines stated below. Exceptions may only be granted by a faculty vote.


Admission Requirements

  1. Undergraduate major in geology or a related field. Students must have completed, or will be required to complete as soon as possible upon enrollment in the program, GEOS 1300, 1310, 3010 or 3350 and a field experience such as 5390 or equivalent. Any remedial course work completed upon enrollment in the graduate program must be completed with grade of “B” or better to satisfy this requirement. For students who enter the program with course work deficiencies, program requirement timelines (see below) will begin once remedial work has been satisfactorily completed, rather than upon matriculation in the program.
  2. Grade point average of at least 3.0 (of 4.0) for the previous two years of undergraduate work is strongly recommended and is required for full consideration for financial support via teaching assistantships.
  3. Three letters of recommendation are required of all applicants from persons well situated to evaluate his/her qualifications for graduate study. If they are coming from a faculty member at a college or university, the letter should be on that school’s letterhead. Letters must be submitted through the WMU electronic application system.
  4. Applicants must submit the results of the Verbal Reasoning, Analytical Writing, and Quantitative Reasoning portions of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Program Requirements

1. Choose a graduate advisor by the end of the first semester after matriculation.

No later than the end of the third academic semester, the student should complete three (3) hours of research (GEOS 6340) with this advisor in the preparation of a thesis proposal, and file appropriate paperwork identifying a thesis committee composed of the primary advisor, at least one other Geosciences department faculty member, and a third committee member who may be internal or external to the department.

2. Qualifying Requirement.

This requirement must be completed no later than the end of the second full year in residence. Students must achieve an average grade of “BA” in two of four core graduate courses. One graduate course in each of the four areas (Hydrogeology, Geochemistry and Economic Geology, Geophysics and Tectonics, Stratigraphy and Sedimentary Geology) will be designated as a “core” course (see graduate advisor for details). In some cases, students may enter the program with a strong background in one or more of the core areas. Such students may be excused from enrolling in one or more core courses by achieving a grade of “B” or better on the final examination for the course(s), provided these result in an average grade of “BA” for two of the core courses. Students who do not achieve a “B” in a core area, or an average of “BA” for two core courses, on their first attempt will be given one additional opportunity to either pass each course or the final examination with a grade of “B” or the grade necessary to achieve an average of “BA” for two of the core courses.

3. Proposal Examination.

By the end of the third academic semester in residence, students must develop a written proposal describing their planned research. This proposal will be presented in a public 15-20 minute talk and will be followed by a closed-door oral examination covering both the proposal and related aspects of Geosciences, to be conducted by the student’s chosen thesis committee. Students who do not pass the proposal exam may be given one additional opportunity to repeat the examination. A second attempt must be made within a timeframe to be determined by the student’s thesis committee, and must occur no later than the end of the next academic semester.

4. Complete at least thirty (30) total graduate credit hours in Geosciences and related areas

(mathematics, physical sciences); at least fifteen (15) credit hours must be at the 6000-level or above, and at least twenty-one (21) of the total credits must be completed in Geosciences. At least eighteen (18) credits of Geosciences coursework must be completed, exclusive of GEOS 6340: Research in Geology and Earth Sciences, GEOS 7100: Independent Research, GEOS 7120: Professional Field Experience, GEOS 7000: Master’s Thesis, and GEOS 7350: Graduate Research.

5. Attend weekly departmental seminars.

6. Satisfactory completion of six (6) hours of the following:

7. At least one scientific presentation must be given at an approved external venue

prior to graduation, or at least one scientific paper must be submitted to an approved refereed journal prior to graduation. Journals and venues must be approved by the student’s thesis committee. See the graduate advisor for examples of approved journals and presentation venues.

8. Successfully defend thesis.

The student will give a 30-45 minute public presentation describing the results of his/her research. This will be followed by a closed-door defense to be conducted by the members of the student’s thesis committee. See the appropriate section of this Graduate Catalog for policies and procedures in the event of an unsuccessful defense. The final written thesis must conform to the requirements explained in the University’s Guidelines for the Preparation of Theses, Projects, and Dissertations and may be written according to one of the following options:

a. Option 1:

The student will present a traditional comprehensive thesis based on the master’s research. The thesis must include an introduction, review of relevant literature, description of methodology used in the thesis research, presentation of the results (including appendices of data where appropriate), and discussion of the significance of the research.

b. Option 2:

The student will present at least one first-authored journal paper based on the thesis research that has been submitted for publication and is deemed to be publishable by the student’s thesis committee. A separately written introduction including a brief literature review, summary of the significance of the work, and appendices of data (where appropriate) must also be submitted.

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