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Geology Department College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

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Graduate Program

About the Geology Graduate Program

The Sacramento State Master of Science in Geology program equips students with the skills they need to become leaders in their field. Advanced training prepares graduates to enter professional positions or doctoral programs that require cutting-edge knowledge and experience in various topics such as hydrogeology, environmental geology, or geologic hazards. The University's location in the state capital provides direct access to many local, federal, and state agencies through internship and fieldwork opportunities.

The M.S. in Geology program is designed to allow students to work while pursuing their degree. All courses are offered in the evening, with a typical start time of 5:30 pm.

The degree has two formats: 1) the thesis track and 2) the non-thesis track (see descriptions below and course requirements in the catalog). All students are admitted to the M.S. in Geology program under the non-thesis track. Transitioning to the Thesis track requires a M.S. Thesis Proposal that is approved by a faculty advisor and two other committee members.

1) Thesis track

Description: Students complete 24 units of coursework and 6 units of Master’s Thesis. The culminating experience is a Master’s Thesis: an independent research project that generates new scientific knowledge. The thesis enables the student to develop expertise in their specific topic. Completing a thesis project can benefit students in all careers because it promotes the development of many transferrable skills, including: critical thinking, troubleshooting, project management, and scientific communication. The thesis project is guided by a faculty advisor and two additional committee members.

Typical time to degree: 2-3 years.

2) Non-thesis track

Description: Students complete 30 units of coursework. The culminating experience is a comprehensive exam to demonstrate mastery of topics covered by courses taken during the program.

Typical time to degree: 2-2.5 years. 2.5 years if student takes 2 courses (6 units) per semester.

Program eligibility

To be eligible for the program, students must meet the admission requirements listed in the catalog and summarized below. However, students missing up to two of the required courses are still encouraged to apply and may be admitted with "conditionally classified” status. These missing courses must be taken in the first year of the program and do not count toward the graduate degree.

To be eligible for the program, students must have:

  • a degree in Geology or 24 units of upper division geology coursework as listed in the catalog
  • a minimum 3.0 GPA in upper division Geology courses
  • two semesters of inorganic Chemistry with a lab (CHEM 1A and CHEM 1B)
  • two semesters of Physics with a lab (PHYS 11A and PHYS 11B or PHYS 5A and PHYS 5B)
  • two semesters of Math (MATH 30 and MATH 31)

Students missing up to two of these required courses are still encouraged to apply (see above).

Funding

Funding from the Geology Department is available on a limited basis through Teaching Assistantships. TAs typically teach two sections of a lower division laboratory course (Physical Geology Lab or Earth Science Lab) per semester for their first year in the program. TAships are offered to the top-ranked incoming students each year.

All students are encouraged to apply for scholarships to cover their graduate program expenses. A list of CSU scholarships can be found at this website .

For students on the thesis-track, funding varies by project and advisor. Applicants are encouraged to contact prospective thesis advisors directly to inquire about funding availability.

Applying to the Program

Fall 2022 application deadline extended to April 1st!

For full consideration, applications for Fall admission must be received by the priority deadline of Feb 1st. Applications received by the final deadline of March 1st will be considered if there is space available in the program.

Application process:

  1. If you are interested in pursuing a thesis, contact faculty members with similar research interests to inquire about opportunities in their research groups prior to submitting an application to the program. Students are not guaranteed a position in a research group unless both the student and faculty member have signed the Thesis Advisor Contract. A general statement that a faculty member is accepting students does not constitute a commitment on the part of the faculty member. If you intend to pursue the non-thesis track, skip to step 2.
  2. Start your CalStateApply application as it contains information about how to complete the rest of the application process.
  3. Request official transcripts for all institutions you have attended (other than Sac State) be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies by February 1. They can be sent either electronically or in hard copy. See CalStateApply for the email and/or mailing address.
  4. In CalStateApply, add information for 3 recommenders who are familiar with your academic record and professional capabilities. Once each Recommendation Request is saved, the system will automatically send an email to that recommender requesting they upload a letter of recommendation. We recommend you do this early as it often takes time for recommenders to submit their letters. We will accept letters past the Feb 1 priority deadline, but it does slow down our review of your application.
  5. In CalStateApply, upload unofficial transcripts from all institutions attended. This expedites the review of applications.
  6. In CalStateApply, upload a statement of interest. This should be no more than one page single spaced in length. It should describe why you want to attend graduate school and why you want to join our program. If you plan to work on a thesis, also include the name of the faculty member(s) with whom you would like to work. Contact those faculty members ahead of time to ask about opportunities in their research group and to let them know of your interest in working with them.

Note: Students are not guaranteed a spot in a research group unless the faculty member has stated in writing that they will take them on as a student. A general statement that a faculty member is accepting students does not constitute a commitment on the part of the faculty member.

Also, all students are admitted to the M.S. in Geology program under the non-thesis track. Transitioning to the Thesis track requires a M.S. Thesis Proposal that is approved by a faculty advisor and two other committee members.

Questions?

If you have any questions about the Geology Graduate Program or application process, please email GeologyGraduateCoordinator@csus.edu