Apr 14, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate 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

  • Thesis Option
  • Project Option, Concurrent MS only

Campus Code

Knoxville Campus

Admissions Standards/Procedures

  • For admission, an applicant must provide transcripts of previous university work, as well as three rating forms or letters of recommendation. As of Fall 2019, submission of GRE scores (general) is optional, but students eligible for competitive fellowship nominations are encouraged to provide exam scores. International students need to provide more information, as well as TOEFL or IELTS scores. 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 coursework.
  • 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

  • (6 credit hours)

    24 credit hours of approved coursework, including:

  • (every semester students are in residence unless course or teaching conflicts preclude a student from being present)
  • Students must also enroll in   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 coursework.

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 coursework;
    • 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.