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Master of Science in Geology

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M.S. Degree Requirements

Details of the regulations on graduate study are included in the department’s Ground Rules for Graduate Students, available from the department office.

Prerequisites include credit in one year each of general biology, general chemistry, general physics, and calculus, plus junior- or senior-level courses in mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, paleontology, stratigraphy, geophysics, and a summer course in field geology. Students planning to specialize in geophysics also should have more advanced backgrounds in calculus and physics. Incoming graduate students meet with a departmental advisory review committee before enrollment to identify deficiencies and strengths and to set up curricula aimed at providing a broad background in geology at the intermediate to advanced level during the first year. Some deficiencies may be waived at this time if they are deemed nonessential.

Geology has many subdisciplines, and the department tailors each student’s curriculum to the needs of the individual. There is no departmental core curriculum or list of required courses.

Thesis Option (M.S. Degree)

The master’s degree curriculum requires completion of 30 credit hours, including up to 6 credit hours for thesis research and an acceptable master’s thesis. The student sets the curriculum in consultation with a 3-member advisory committee selected from the Graduate Faculty and approved by the graduate adviser. Course work counted toward the degree must be distributed to provide a comprehensive general knowledge of geology in addition to specialized knowledge required for the thesis. It may include courses in departments other than geology.

Although the department does not award a master’s degree in geophysics, students can specialize in geophysics at the master’s level. A similar arrangement is possible in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. This specialization is overseen by a committee with representatives from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Kansas Geological Survey, and the Department of Geology. The committee recommends requirements for the specialty degree and coordinates educational activities in geophysics. Research is supervised by departmental faculty members as well as by adjunct faculty members who are staff members of the Kansas Geological Survey. Similar arrangements can be made for students wishing to specialize in hydrogeology or paleontology.

The student must maintain a 3.0 grade-point average in geology and supporting science courses and pass a final oral general examination with emphasis on the areas of geology relevant to the thesis project. This examination may be repeated once, if necessary.

Nonthesis Option (M.S. Degree)

A student may complete an M.S. degree program based primarily on course work and specialized skills. For this degree, a minimum of 36 credit hours of graduate-level study must be completed, including two written reports based on small projects. The student determines the structure of the project in consultation with an advisory committee of 5 faculty members. A student must declare an intention to follow the nonthesis option during the first semester of graduate study. The nonthesis degree is a terminal degree and normally cannot lead to doctoral study. In addition to maintaining a 3.0 grade-point average in course work, the student must demonstrate proficiency in the areas of geology covered by the program. This is accomplished by satisfactory performance on a series of written examinations assembled and administered by the advisory committee. These constitute the final examination for the degree and may be repeated once, if necessary.

During or after the period of residence, a student who wishes to change to an M.S. (thesis) program or a Ph.D. program must petition the graduate studies committee.

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