To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. (Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.)
You must additionally complete:
In addition to University Requirements:
|Minimum Units for Completion||30|
|Additional Admission Requirements||Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.|
|Thesis||Thesis is required.
|Oral Defense||Oral Defense is required.
|Research||Individualized research is required.
|Progression Plan Link||View Program of Study|
The Geology Program offers a thesis-based, multidisciplinary MS degree in Geology with the objective of educating students for success in the private sector, government employment, or further pursuit of graduate studies. During the two-year program, students use geological, geobiological, geophysical, geochemical, and numerical-modeling techniques to examine geological problems and develop explanations for the processes that produced them. Students learn to study what is known about a subject and then identify what is not yet understood. Based upon observations, they develop testable hypotheses about a poorly understood geological process, design a study to test these, and then carry this study out, learning new analytical techniques along the way. They then write this work into a thesis and present and defend their work in a public session. In many cases, the thesis is then turned into a published journal article.
The program requires that students develop a breadth in their understanding of geology, taking MS-level courses in at least three of four major subdisciplines in earth sciences and 7-8 academic courses overall. The breadth of the graduate-level course offerings is indicated by the four subdisciplines from which they choose, which are 1) “Hard-Rock” geology (primarily courses focusing on igneous and metamorphic rocks), 2) “Soft-Rock” geology (sedimentology and paleontology courses), 3) Geophysics, Structure, and Tectonics, and 4) Hydrogeology and Quaternary Geology. Faculty members and the Geology Graduate Program Coordinator work closely with the student in designing a program of courses that is appropriate for that student’s thesis work and aspirations. The course work allows the student to expand his or her understanding of geology, both in breadth and in depth. By the end of the first year, the student should have the geological base to begin work on a thesis. The thesis advisor mentors the student in developing a thesis proposal for a mutually agreeable research project, and oversees the student’s research and academic progress. The thesis represents a significant contribution to the science and typically involves a year or more of concentrated effort. Funding for the research primarily comes from external funding sources, through proposals written by the students and/or their advisors. Students from the program have the opportunity to do internships with companies in the mining or petroleum industries and with government agencies. Graduates have found employment in all aspects of geology, from extractive industries to environmental geology, government agencies, and academia.
Student Learning Outcomes
Individual program admission requirements include:
Take the following 30 units:
Please note that only 6 units of thesis credit count toward your degree. However, master's students in geology average 12-14 thesis units because they must register for EES 699 each semester during which they work on their thesis.
Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.