College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences2013-2014

School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability

Geology, Master of Science

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.


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

University Requirements

  • 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:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.
    The full policy can be viewed here.



In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 32
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.


Additional Admission Requirements
  • Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
    • NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent. 
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts
    • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
    • International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy 

    Individual program admission requirements include:

    • GRE® revised General Test
    • 3 letters of recommendation
    • Personal statement or essay
    • Prerequisites (completed prior to enrolling in the program)
      • Physical Geology; Historical Geology; Mineralogy; Petrology; Stratigraphy and Sedimentation; Structural Geology; Field Camp; Calculus I; Calculus II; Physics I; Physics II; Chemistry I; Chemistry II
    • List of courses taken in the field
Master's Requirements
  • Take the following 32 units:

    • EES 605, EES 606 (2 units)
    • Select coursework in consultation with your research committee to reflect breadth in subject matter. (All of your coursework may be in geology, or you may include a graduate minor in a related field.) (24 units)
    • GLG 699, for the research, writing, and oral defense of an approved thesis (6 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 GLG 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.

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