Jun 15, 2024  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geology Major, MS

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences offers both the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees with a major in geology. Individuals interested in these programs should contact the Director of graduate admissions in the department and the faculty most closely related to the applicant’s research interests for information and application procedures.

Options Available

Campus Code

Knoxville Campus

Admissions Standards/Procedures

  • For admission, an applicant must provide transcripts of previous university work, three rating forms or letters of recommendation, and GRE scores (general). Students are not normally admitted under non-degree status.
  • Prerequisite for either graduate degree is a Bachelor’s degree in the geosciences or other field (typically, but not exclusively, from the physical, natural, or life sciences or engineering).
  • Upon admission, each student selects a major advisor before entering the Department.

Academic Standards

  • A minimum cumulative 3.00 GPA in all graded graduate course work.
  • Once a student is in residence and begins to develop research plans, the student and advisor discuss the best possible individuals to form a committee that will be suited for advising the student. Students are expected to develop a committee by the end of the first semester.
    • The Thesis Committee is primarily responsible for advising the student’s research activities, but also can modify the course curriculum based on the student’s area of research.

Thesis Option

Credit Hours Required

Minimum of 30 graduate credit hours

Required Courses

  • GEOL 500  (6 credit hours)
  • 24 credit hours of approved course work, including
    • GEOL 595  every semester students are in residence unless course or teaching conflicts preclude a student from being present.
    • Students must also enroll in GEOL 596  one time during their residency.
    • A student may apply a maximum of 2 credit hours of GEOL 595  and 1 credit of GEOL 596  toward graduation.

Additional Course Requirements

  • Taking courses from outside the department is encouraged, and are selected in consultation with the advisor and committee.
  • Students without a Bachelor’s degree in the geosciences may need to take geology courses at the undergraduate level, which may be recommended by the advisor and the Dissertation Committee. These courses supplement the required graduate course work.

Non-Course Requirements

  • Approval of a written thesis proposal.
  • Successful oral defense of a written thesis.
  • Before receiving an MS degree, students must demonstrate committee-approved proficiency in field-based Earth Sciences, which is typically done by completing an undergraduate field camp or a field-based program of equivalent length and curriculum.

Project Option, Concurrent MS only

Credit Hours Required

Minimum of 30 graduate credit hours

Additional Course Requirements

  • For students enrolled in the PhD program, a concurrent master’s degree may be awarded as a 30 credit hour project-based (non-thesis option). To be eligible a student should:
    • not have a prior master’s degree in Geology;
    • have successfully completed 30 credit hours of approved graduate course work;
    • have demonstrated a committee-approved proficiency in field-based Earth Sciences;
    • have a PhD dissertation proposal accepted;
    • have passed his/her preliminary exams; and
    • have at least one first author paper submitted for consideration for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.