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Master of Science in Geology

The Department of Geological Sciences offers a comprehensive program of courses coupled with appropriate thesis projects leading to the Master of Science in Geology. Within geology, students specialize in any of a number of sub-disciplines including paleoclimatology, environmental geochemistry, geophysics, hydrogeology, mineralogy and petrology, tectonic geomorphology, paleontology, petroleum geology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, structural and field geology. Students may include in their studies courses offered by other departments at CSULB with the approval of their principal thesis advisor (or their Thesis Committee).

Offshore Resources

The Department has access to an ocean-going research vessel, support staff, and dockside facilities of the Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI), a consortium of several California State University campuses, University of Southern California, and Occidental College.

Admission to the Program

The basic requirement for admission to the graduate program is possession of a bachelor's degree or equivalent in geological sciences, or a closely related field. The final curriculum requirements for the Master of Science Degree are set by the Thesis Committee at Advancement to Candidacy, but the following undergraduate courses are considered an essential foundation for the program: (1) two courses in calculus, (2) two courses in general chemistry, (3) two courses in calculus-based physics, (4) a course in physical geology, (5) a course in historical geology, (6) mineralogy, (7) sedimentology/stratigraphy, (8) structural geology, (9) a course in field methods or a field camp. Students who are missing some of this course work may be admitted conditionally to the program but will be expected to remove deficiencies or present acceptable alternatives prior to Advancement to Candidacy. Courses taken to remove deficiencies cannot be used towards satisfying the minimum requirements of the Graduate Program. Students who are missing the general science and math requirements are recommended to complete an undergraduate degree in Geological Sciences or a closely related field before applying to the Graduate Program.

In addition to the above course work requirements, students are required to take the General test of the Graduate Record Examination and to submit three letters of recommendation prior to entry.

Prospective graduate students in the geological sciences, including CSULB graduates, must formally apply for admission to CSULB (CSU Apply) as described previously in this Catalog and must also apply directly to the Department of Geological Sciences. All applicants must submit all required documents directly to the Department by Februrary 15 to receive full consideration for admission and financial support. Required documents include:

1. Department Application Form, available on the Department's website;

2. Personal Statement/Letter of Intent

3. Official transcripts of all college level academic work including that done at CSULB, in addition to those transcripts required for general graduate admission to CSULB;

4. Three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant's academic performance and research potential. Instructions are included in the Department application form, available from the Department's website;

5. Official reports or scanned copies of scores on the General test of the Graduate Record Examination.

A limited number of teaching and research assistantships are available to fund graduate studies in the Department of Geological Sciences. Applicants wishing to secure research assistantships must discuss the possibility directly with their intended advisor.

Johnson-Conrey Graduate Fellowship

The Johnson-Conrey Graduate Fellowship is awarded to the most highly qualified incoming Geological Sciences graduate students each year. The Fellowship, which provides $15,000 per year for two years, is competitive, and is awarded by the Department based on students' application materials and a separate essay. Up to two Fellowships are awarded each year. (Note that former CSULB students are ineligible to apply.)

Initiation of Graduate Study

Students are responsible for all University and Department regulations governing master's degrees as outlined in this Catalog and the Department Graduate Student Handbook. All applicants must be matched to a potential thesis advisor prior to acceptance. This advisor will provide academic advising. Administrative advising is carried out by the graduate advisor, who explains the requirements of the program.

All entering students must take GEOL 500 (Introductory Graduate Seminar) during their first Fall semester. This course consists of lectures and activities to help students focus their research projects and goals and work effectively toward the Advancement to Candidacy.

Students are required to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher at all times. If at any time a student's GPA drops below 3.0, that student will immediately be placed on academic probation for a maximum of two semesters. If the student does not bring the GPA back up to 3.0 during the probationary period, he/she will not be allowed to continue as a graduate student in this Department. In order for a student to regain status in the Department after failing to maintain this academic standard, he/she must formally reapply for Department admission.

Advancement to Candidacy

A student must have been advanced to candidacy before the beginning of their third semester International students must have fulfilled the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) or taken ENG 301B prior to Advancement to Candidacy. All students must Advance to Candidacy prior to enrollment in GEOL 698: Thesis Units.

Prior to Advancement, a thesis topic, thesis committee, and graduate program consisting of at least 30 units (see below) must be established by the student and the prospective thesis committee chair. In addition, the following requirements must be met:

1. Completion of all deficiencies and incompletes. This includes courses required in the undergraduate major for the emphasis in which the student is pursuing graduate research, as well as additional courses specified by the thesis advisor.

2. Completion of six units of graduate level courses with a 3.0 or higher grade point average and attainment of a 3.0 or higher grade point average in all upper division and graduate work attempted, as well as in courses to be listed in the student's graduate academic program (see below).

3. A passing grade in GEOL 500.

Advancement to Candidacy includes a successful completion of an oral presentation given by the student to their thesis committee, and acceptance of a written proposal for the thesis research. The student's thesis topic will be the subject of the examination.

Once the above requirements are met, Advancement to Candidacy proceeds with approval of the thesis committee followed by the Department Graduate Advisor and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. After the student has been advanced, no course work in addition to that specified in the graduate program may be required of the student. In order for a student to change thesis chair/director, topic, committee members, or courses in the graduate program, approvals must be obtained. Under some circumstances this may mean that additional courses are required.

Requirements of Graduate Academic Program

The graduate academic program consists of at least 30 units of courses and is established when the student advances to candidacy. The program proposed by the thesis committee chair and the student must be approved by the thesis committee, Graduate Advisor and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. Six units of GEOL 698 (Thesis) must be taken as part of the program, GEOL 695 (Directed Reading) may account for up to four units. Directed Research, GEOL 697, may account for up to three units, but normally cannot be taken before the student completes 12 units of the graduate program with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

A minimum of 21 units of 500 or 600 level courses, including Thesis, must be completed; the remaining units (9 or less) may be 300, 400, 500, or 600 level courses, although courses at 300 level in the Department may not be used in the program. Up to 9 units may be taken at other universities with permission of the Graduate School. Appropriate courses from related areas in science, mathematics, or engineering may be substituted within limits with consent of the Department.

Thesis Defense

All M.S. students are required to submit a thesis that conforms to the University and Department guidelines. The thesis should document the systematic study of a significant geological problem; evidence originality and critical, independent thinking; and conform to appropriate and accepted organization, format, and writing style. Each student should discuss thesis format with his/her thesis committee chair.

All M.S. students are also required to present the results of their research orally to members of the department. The student must schedule his/her presentation at least two weeks in advance, and with the approval of the thesis committee. The date of the presentation must precede the end of the semester in which the student plans to graduate. Requests to Graduate must be filed according to university policy with deadlines that are generally 1 to 2 semesters prior to anticipated graduation.

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