Geology M.S.

All students must meet the Requirements for the Master's Degree


The Master of Science in Geology is a rigorous research thesis program with grounding in related course work. Research programs include environmental geology; geomorphology; water resources; environmental (bio)geochemistry; mineralogy; sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic environments; geochronology and structural geology; tectonics; and the evolution of orogenic belts. Examples of specific faculty interests include geologic history and recent sedimentation in the Lake Champlain Basin; processes and chronology of glaciation; stable and cosmogenic isotopic studies; water quality and pollutant transport; crystal chemistry and crystallography; mineral structure analysis; molecular-scale environmental mineralogy; (bio)geochemical cycling in the critical zone; the tectonic evolution of deformed continental margins and interiors; petrofabric and structural analysis of deformed rocks; partial melting processes; and stratigraphy and sedimentary environments of lower Paleozoic sandstones and carbonates.

Specific Requirements

Requirements for Admission to Graduate Studies for the Degree of Master of Science

  • Bachelor's degree in geology or related field from an accredited institution with year-long courses in chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics preferred. The M.S. program is also open to undergraduate majors in physics, chemistry, biology, engineering or mathematics who have accumulated twelve semester hours of course work in geology.
  • Strong undergraduate record, letters of recommendation, and satisfactory basic GRE scores.

Applicants should identify a potential faculty advisor (or advisors) and include research interests in the application statement.

Acceptance to the program is a competitive process and admission is dependent upon available Teaching and/or Research Fellowships.

Minimum Degree Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science

Admitted students will be assigned a three-person advisory committee at the beginning of the first year of graduate study. The committee will prescribe a study program based on the interests of the student and the principal graduate advisor.

For the thesis option, successful writing, oral presentation and defense of a research thesis are required. Satisfactory completion will be determined by the candidate’s thesis committee. Advanced courses in geology must total at least thirty semester hours, including at least one 300-level course and six to nine credits for thesis research. Students enrolled in a traditional (thesis) M.S. cannot switch to the non-thesis option without prior approval from the thesis committee.

For the non-thesis option, at the time of enrollment the student must select a general area in which to write a project report. The report is the culmination of independent study and may be the result of an extensive literature search, fieldwork, laboratory work, or similar effort. The report must follow the general guidelines for writing a thesis and is subject to the principle advisor’s approval. Advanced courses in geology must total at least thirty semester hours, including at least one 300-level course and three to six credits for research.

Both options require giving a public oral defense after the thesis or non-thesis research project is completed.

For both options, a minimum of fifteen graded credits used in compilation of the graduate GPA must be taken in residence at UVM. Advanced courses in related sciences are encouraged and may be substituted for some selected geology courses on approval by the departmental advisor. With the prior approval of their department and the Graduate College, students may apply one 100/200 level, three-credit undergraduate course towards their graduate program. A student's advisor must petition the Graduate College for approval before the student enrolls in the course. Consult individual programs for further limitations. Under no circumstances will a course numbered below 100 be applicable to a master's program.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive exam for the Geology M.S. comprises two parts. Part 1 is a written research proposal and oral presentation that must be completed before the end of the second semester. The proposal must discuss the research objectives and their significance and include a work plan demonstrating feasibility.  The presentation is followed by geology faculty/thesis committee questions that cover the assumptions, methodology, and the relationship of the proposed work to and its dependence on auxiliary sciences. Part 2 is a written progress report and oral presentation and must be completed before the end of the third semester. The progress report presents the latest research findings and must demonstrate sufficient progress toward the M.S. degree. Faculty/committee questions cover the data presented, interpretations, and work plan to complete the thesis.

Requirements for Advancement to Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Science

Advancement to candidacy requires satisfactory completion of a comprehensive examination. The comprehensive examination includes both a written and oral 1) research proposal and 2) progress report during the second and third semesters of enrollment, respectively.