Academic Catalog - 2018-2019

College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

School of Earth and Sustainability

Geology, Master of Science


Academic Information

This research-and-thesis-based Master's degree attracts students who are interested in natural resources (including water and fuel sources) and the very structure of the earth. The degree offers flexibility in the design of the student's plan of study, created with guidance from an engaged research committee.

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Academic Catalog - 2018-2019

College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

School of Earth and Sustainability

Geology, Master of Science


Careers

What Can I Do with a Master of Science in Geology?

Do you love the outdoors? Are you interested in nature? Do you enjoy travel? Are you looking to gain skills that will make you competitive in the job market? If so, then consider pursuing a MS in Geology degree at Northern Arizona University. An advanced degree is especially useful in state survey work and for advancement in industry and government. If you're passionate about the improvement of natural resources, the environment, and pollution control, we offer the tools to help you find a job while pursuing your passion.

Our program is located in a region that offers amazing opportunities for geologic studies. Located in Flagstaff, Arizona, the university lies in the unparalleled setting of the southern Colorado Plateau near the San Francisco Peaks, Grand Canyon, and red rocks of Sedona. Research problems abound involving sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks, surficial deposits, and water resources. Active and funded research programs also address problems outside Arizona, including studies in Alaska, Argentina, Australia, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and Turkey.

With further education, one of these paths is possible:
  • Surveyor
  • Meteorologist
  • Drilling supervisor
  • Environmental consultant

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Academic Catalog - 2018-2019

College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

School of Earth and Sustainability

Geology, Master of Science


University Requirements

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Academic Catalog - 2018-2019

College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

School of Earth and Sustainability

Geology, Master of Science


Overview

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

Purpose Statement

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

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Academic Catalog - 2018-2019

College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

School of Earth and Sustainability

Geology, Master of Science


Details

Additional Admission Requirements
Master's Requirements
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Academic Catalog - 2018-2019

College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

School of Earth and Sustainability

Geology, Master of Science


Campus Availability

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