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This document is a formal description of the program requirements for the Masters in Earth and Space Sciences, Applied Geoscience (MESSAGe).

Prerequisite Courses / Admission

MESSAGe Course Requirements

Satisfactory Progress

Masters Internship

Masters Supervisory Committee

Final Graduation Requirements

Time to Degree


I: Prerequisite Courses

Admission into the program requires a Bachelors degree in Geoscience or a closely related discipline, including Field Camp (ESS 400) and at least four upper division courses spread among the following categories:

  • Structural Geology, Geomechanics
  • Sedimentology, Stratigraphy
  • Mineralogy, Petrology, Earth Materials
  • Geomorphology
  • Geochemistry
  • Geophysics

All students must also have completed the equivalent of two quarters each of physics with calculus, general chemistry, and calculus, with an additional quarter of advanced math (third quarter calculus, linear algebra, differential equations or advanced statistics). Deficiencies in any of these areas must be made up before completion of MESSAGe. Students who wish to request substitutions or exceptions to these requirements must do so in writing by October 1 of the first year of enrollment. Submit requests to the Program Director.

II: Summary of MESSAGe Requirements (50 Credits Total)

Core Courses - All of the following:

Students who have coursework or experience in any of the core areas may substitute advanced elective courses, with permission from the Program Director.

GIS / Remote Sensing - One of the following:

Students who have advanced GIS coursework or experience may substitute an elective course, with permission from the Program Director.

Field Courses - Both of the following:

Seminars - Both of the following:

Capstone - All of the following:

  • Internship (typically summer): off-campus, applied geology experience
  • ESS 597 Applied Geoscience Investigation: guided investigation leading to a technical report (at least 5 credits, over 2 or 3 quarters).
  • ESS 601a Masters report and final presentation of investigation (2 cr., typically winter of year 2)
  • ESS 601b Presentation about off-campus internship (1 cr., typically fall of year 2)
  • ESS 601c Oral comprehensive exam (fall year 2, after core coursework, before the final presentation, 1 cr.)

Elective Courses

Additional credits at the 400 or 500 level to bring total credits to 50. Electives are selected from courses in ESS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, or other departments in the College of the Environment. Electives from other departments may also apply, with permission from the Program Director. Elective course offerings change annually.

III: Satisfactory Progress

All students will submit a degree plan to the Program Director at the start of Autumn Quarter, and again annually until completion of the degree. Degree plan forms are available on the MESSAGe website.

Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, evaluated each quarter. For more information academic probation and satisfactory progress, please refer to Graduate School Memo 16.

IV: Masters Internship

The internship is arranged with the guidance of the MESSAGe Program Coordinator, and mentored by a geoscientist from government or the private sector. The internship is intended to give students practical experience in applied geosciences. (In exceptional cases, the MESSAGe internship may be conducted under the guidance of faculty.) The internship is initiated with a written agreement among the student, mentor, and Program Coordinator. The internship agreement must be finalized and submitted to the Program Coordinator before work begins (typically in spring of the first year for a summer internship). Students report on their internship experience in a presentation to the Professional Practice seminar, typically in the fall of their second year.

V: Independent Investigation

Students complete an independent investigation with the guidance of a faculty- or off-campus mentor. This project can be connected to the Masters internship, or it may be unrelated. Each project requires a literature review, data collection, analysis, and interpretation of results. This work leads to a technical report and final presentation.

VI: Masters Supervisory Committee

The Masters supervisory committee for MESSAGe students typically consists of two faculty members. This person typically supervises credits earned under ESS 597. An external internship mentor may advise the supervisory committee, but is not normally a committee member. The chair of the supervisory committee must be a member of the graduate faculty. In the case that the committee has more than two members, at least half must be members of the graduate faculty (see Graduate School Memo 13). The Program Director will appoint the supervisory committee, in consultation with the Graduate Program Coordinator and the student. An external internship mentor may advise the supervisory committee, but is not normally a committee member. The supervisory committee is typically formed at the time that the student identifies a topic for independent investigation (typically spring of year 1).

VII: Final Graduation Requirements

Final graduation requirements consist of an oral comprehensive exam, a written technical report, and a final presentation. All three components must be completed before the degree is conferred. The oral comprehensive exam is designed to evaluate the student’s independent problem-solving ability and mastery of the content of required MESSAGe courses. The written technical report demonstrates completion of a significant independent investigation. The final presentation is a 20-minute talk that reviews the objectives, methods, and findings of the investigation. The report and presentation are evaluated by the student’s supervisory committee; the comprehensive exam is administered by an examination committee which may or may not contain members of the supervisory committee. For more information about each component of the MESSAGe final graduation requirements, please see the policy document.

VIII: Time to Degree

A full time student is expected to complete the program within two academic years, and may complete the program in as few as five academic quarters. A part-time student is expected to complete the program in three years. The Graduate School requires that all requirements for a Masters Degree are to be completed within six years, including time spent on leave.

Updated 3/22/2016.