Master of Science in Geology
About the Degree
Students studying for a Master of Science in Geology degree learn advanced theory and applications of earth materials, structures and/or processes while completing a directed research thesis.
Thesis projects for this degree address diverse topics ranging from:
- Exploration for natural resources, including metals, petroleum and water;
- Addressing problems associated with human impacts on the environment; and
- Investigating earth’s history to understand the evolution of life and global climate change.
External funding and alumni donations allow faculty to support student research. The faculty provides a broad-based education focused on both academic and applied aspects of the geological and environmental sciences.
The department offers M.S. degrees in Geology, Earth Science, Environmental Geology and Geophysics. Each degree requires 30 credits including a six-credit research thesis. These degrees accommodate applicants having different undergraduate training and career objectives.
- The M.S. Geology degree accommodates those with the equivalent of a B.S. Geology degree interested in pursuing a geology-based thesis requiring a broad, quantitative geology background.
- The M.S. Earth Science degree accommodates those with the equivalent of a B.A. Geology degree interested in a more qualitative geology thesis.
- The M.S. Environmental Geology degree accommodates those with the equivalent of a B.S. in a natural science or engineering plus the equivalent of a minor in geology and interested in pursuing a wide range of environmental research topics.
- The M.S. Geophysics degree accommodates those with the equivalent of a B.S. Geophysics degree interested in pursuing a geophysics-related thesis.
Geoscientists decipher how Earth works, and their studies build skills such as rock and sediment analysis, fluid movement, map construction, and historical evaluation. Students undertake 7-8 courses, which emphasize hands-on learning and practical applications of geologic, geochemical, geomicrobiological and geophysical techniques. They complete an independent field and/or laboratory research project (thesis) on a topic of their choosing. They learn geological sampling, laboratory analysis, data interpretation, report writing and presentation skills throughout their program of study.
Salary and Career Outlook
The career outlook for geologists is quite strong. The need for trained professionals to work in environmental and earth resources jobs is greater than average, and is predicted to grow faster than average at 16% over the decade (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics). With many senior geologists retiring, the need for replacements is critical. Job opportunities for graduates with a MS in Geology include supervisory field and mid-management positions in private industry engaged in environmental consulting, energy and mineral exploration as well as in government. This career often leads to positions such a project manager for environmental impact assessments throughout the United States.
The average starting salary in 2014 for MS degree geoscientists was $50-60k, with some initial offers (in petroleum) being over $100k. Likewise throughout the career there is good opportunity to improve compensation – median annual wages were $90,890 in 2012 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Students benefit from working with experienced faculty who are internationally known experts in their disciplines. Open access to field and laboratory equipment means that the student leaves the program with marketable skills that can transfer directly to the job setting. Working with experienced faculty in graduate-level course work and thesis research, students continually develop skill in interpreting and analyzing geologic data and report writing. Connections to local and regional industries are made with professors and alumni. We are proud of the contributions our graduates make to the region, state, and nation.
The Department continues to pursue excellence in its differentiating competency of "Terrestrial Records of Environmental Change (TREC)”. TREC encompasses the study of geologic products and processes on both land and nearshore marine settings. TREC studies lead to a better understanding of past, present and future conditions that affect society. The experienced department faculty are internationally known experts in their disciplines. Through external funding, government and industry collaborations, laboratory upgrades, and teaching enhancements, faculty provide students many opportunities to develop the skill set needed for geoscience employment.
Faculty members provide hands-on education focused on both academic and applied aspects of the geological and environmental sciences. Through studies of chemical cycling in the ocean and rock deformation, students become prepared for environmental and geoengineering careers, respectively. Additional faculty-lead examples include solving environmental issues such as:
- the effects of dam removal along the Cuyahoga River;
- assessing acid mine drainage;
- monitoring groundwater flow and
- mapping resources in the Metro Parks.
Students engaged with opportunities have been well-prepared for careers in the government, energy, and environmental sectors.
Graduate Coordinator: Dr. John Peck
Crouse Hall, Room 217
Graduate School: Heather Blake
Polsky Building, Room 467