Apr 13, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 2016-2017 
Graduate Catalog 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Master of Arts in Earth Science (Accelerated)

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Departments and Programs

The accelerated graduate degree program in Earth Science allows undergraduate students in the Geosciences Department at Western Michigan University to begin accumulating credits toward the completion of a Master of Arts in Earth Science degree while completing a bachelor’s degree.

When admitted to the accelerated program with senior standing, a student may take up to 12 credit hours of designated coursework that is applied toward both the bachelor’s degree and the master’s degree. Coursework must be counted from designated classes taken at the 5000-level. Students must earn a grade of “B” or better in order to receive graduate credit for these classes.

An undergraduate degree in geosciences requires a total of 122 credit hours. The Master of Arts in Earth Science requires a total of 35 credit hours. When enrolling in the accelerated program for the maximum 12 graduate credits, a student will earn 145 total undergraduate and graduate credits in contrast to the typical combined 157 undergraduate and graduate credit hours under the usual progression to degree(s). A M.A. in Earth Sciences generally requires 2 to 2.5 years to complete, after earning a Geosciences B.S. degree. The accelerated program can be completed in 12 months after the B.S., if the student takes eligible summer classes, or 1.5 years after completion of the B.S. in Geosciences.

A student will pay undergraduate tuition for courses taken as an undergraduate and these courses will be included in the flat tuition rate. On completion of the undergraduate degree, the student will be reclassified as a graduate student and then will pay graduate tuition rates.


This program is open to undergraduate students who:

  • Are enrolled as B.S. students in the Geology, Geochemistry, Geophysics or Hydrology majors.
  • Have senior status (minimum 88 credit hours) and have earned a minimum or 30 credit hours at WMU and at least 20 credit hours as a declared major in the Geosciences Department.
  • Have and maintain a cumulative overall GPA of at least 3.0 based on at least 88 earned hours, at least 30 of which shall be earned at Western Michigan University.
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above in their major classes and a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above in their cognate classes.

Undergraduate students enrolled in the accelerated program are expected to meet graduate expectations in their designated graduate courses. That is, only courses for which the student receives a grade of 3.0 or better will be transferred into the graduate program.

If a student has received a bachelor’s degree, he or she will be ineligible to apply for this program and retroactively claim credits to apply toward the master’s degree.


  1. As early as possible in the academic junior year, contact the geosciences graduate advisor to discuss this option and review requirements, timelines and application procedures.
  2. Apply for admission to the Master of Arts in Earth Sciences program in the Geosciences Department.
  3. Upon acceptance, meet with the graduate advisor and the undergraduate advisor to prepare an appropriate program of study that meets the requirements for both the undergraduate and graduate degrees.
  4. A letter advising which courses will be counted in both degrees will be sent to the student and to the Registrar. A copy of this letter also will be included in the student’s graduate file.


WMU has an online graduate application system that allows all students (domestic and international) to submit required information into one system. General application information for the University, as well as specific requirements for individual programs, are captured into this system.

To view the admission requirements for the M.A. in Earth Science program, please visit www.wmich.edu/grad/admissions/single.php?id=110.

Requirements for continuing eligibility and graduation

  • Completing the undergraduate degree with a GPA within the major of less than 3.0 or a GPA in cognate classes of less than 2.5 will automatically declare a student ineligible for the program.
  • If a student in admitted to the accelerated program, he or she must follow the program of study developed with the graduate and undergraduate advisors. Failure to follow this program of study may result in ineligibility for the program.
  • If a student becomes ineligible to continue participation in the program, he or she will be notified in writing by the graduate advisor.
  • In order to progress automatically into the graduate program, a student must achieve a grade of “B” or better in each of the courses being counted for both the undergraduate and graduate degrees. If the student does not meet this requirement, he or she will have the earned grade applied only to the undergraduate degree. If a student completes the undergraduate degree including a “B” or above in a minimum of 6 credits of the specified courses, he or she will be admitted as a graduate student (with the relevant graduate credit) in the next semester or session after receiving the bachelor’s degree.
  • It is expected that the baccalaureate degree will be awarded within one calendar year after initial accelerated program enrollment. If a student does not meet this time constraint, he or she must reapply to be admitted to the graduate program.
  • When a student completes the accelerated degree program, it will be noted on his or her undergraduate and graduate transcripts.
  • A student may withdraw at any time from the program by informing the geosciences graduate advisor in writing. A copy of the request to withdraw must be sent to the Registrar.
  • A student must complete the requirements for the M.A. degree within 24 months (2 years) from the completion of the bachelor’s degree. If the student is unable to meet this requirements, he or she must apply for an extension with the Geosciences Department graduate advisor.

Geoscience courses eligible for the program

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Departments and Programs