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Geosciences are key to addressing critical issues of our time: natural hazards, land and resource management, the impacts of climate change. Tool-up with MESSAGe at UW and put your geoscience background to work!

Focus on the fundamentals: Core and elective courses in a flexible curriculum to expand your knowledge in your areas of interest.

Think outside the classroom: Intensive field courses and a capstone internship build your experience tackling real world problems.

Spring forward: Year-long seminars in professional practice and technical communication prepare you for advancement in the geoscience workforce.

Make connections: Frequent interaction with working professionals inside and outside the classroom broaden your professional network.

Program Description

The Masters in Earth and Space Sciences, Applied Geosciences (MESSAGe) is designed for students who are seeking to go into the private sector or public agencies and wish to have a lead role in geology, geomorphology, environmental geology or engineering geology. The program offers a unique blend of classroom and field experiences to build fundamental knowledge and practical skills that employers are seeking.

Flexible Offerings

Earn your Masters in an intensive 18-month program, or complete the degree part time over 2 or 3 years. Two, nine-day field seminars offer hands-on experience, without extended time away. Upper-division electives permit you to tailor the program to your interests in environmental or engineering geology.

Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of geoscientists is expected to grow faster than the average over this decade. It is expected that demand will increase in several areas including energy, environmental protection, and resource management. According to the BLS, job opportunities should be excellent for geoscientists with a Masters degree.


The admissions deadline is February 15. For more information please see the Admissions Page as well as the Frequently Asked Questions.

Graduation Requirements

MESSAGe requires 5-6 academic quarters of coursework including core geoscience fundamentals, professional practice and technical communication, applied geology field courses, and a capstone internship.

Fundamental Courses

Students take the following core courses and one or two electives. Students with demonstrated background in any of the core areas may substitute additional electives.


Elective courses change annually. Recent offerings have included:

  • Glacial Geology (ESS 432)
  • Environmental Geochemistry (ESS 457)
  • Tectonic Geomorphology (ESS 525)
  • Applied Fluvial Geomorphology (ESS 541)
  • Natural Hazards and Resilient Communities (TBA)

Students may choose electives from any 400- or 500-level course offerings in any department in the College of the Environment, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering , or graduate courses elsewhere in the University with permission of the MESSAGe Program Director.

Seminars and Field courses

Seminars and field courses designed exclusively for MESSAGe students focus on preparing students for work as professional geologists and leaders in applied geosciences. Weekly seminars will cover topics such as professional practice, writing technical reports, and career guidance. Field courses run immediately before and following the academic year. The September field course introduces students to field methods in applied geoscience. The June field seminar requires students to collect, analyze, and synthesize data for a number of applied geoscience projects.

Internship and Capstone Investigation

Students finish their degree in an internship with a private or government employer and a capstone investigation. Internships are arranged in collaboration with the Program Coordinator. The capstone investigation is defined in conjunction with an external stakeholder organization (sometimes via the internship) and advised by MESSAGe faculty. The investigation engages students in planning, budgeting, data collection, analysis, and writing, and culminates in a technical report and an oral presentation open to the public.

Program Faculty and Advisors

MESSAGe faculty include world-class research scientists, award-winning professors, and leading professionals. We bridge theory and practice to deliver fundamental knowledge and practical skills to our students. The program is advised by an external committee of geoscientists and employers who counsel the director and mentor students.

Juliet Crider - MESSAGE Director, Field Geology, Advising
Kathy Troost - Internships, Professional Practice, Engineering Geology
Alison Duvall - Tectonic Geomorphology and Hillslope Geomorphology
Brian Collins - Fluvial Geomorphology
Mike Brown - Hydrogeology
Steven Walters - Geographic Information Systems

Applied Geosciences Fieldwork

MESSAGe students take classes with many of our faculty across the Colleges of the Environment and Engineering. Internship mentors are drawn from our network of professional contacts across the region.