MS in Geology

Total units required for MS: 30

Program Description

The graduate program in Geology offers coursework, fieldwork experience, and research that will lead to a Master of Science degree in Geology. It allows students who successfully complete the program to upgrade their educational qualifications and advance to doctoral programs or professional positions that require an in-depth knowledge of hydrogeology, environmental geology, and 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.

Each student should plan a program according to his/her background, interests and objectives, in consultation with a faculty advisor. Students are required to consult with an advisor prior to admission to the program or initiation of graduate study. For information on how to select an advisor, students should contact the Geology Department Office. Graduate students who want to engage in teaching as professionals can apply for an appointment as a Graduate Teaching Associate. Graduate Teaching Associates have the opportunity to teach one to three lower division laboratory courses per semester and are paid at a rate commensurate with their teaching load.

All work toward the degree must be completed within a seven-year period. The general University requirements for graduate degrees are explained in the "Graduate Studies" section of this Catalog or visit the Geology Department's website.

Admission Requirements

Admission as a classified graduate student in Geology requires:

  • a degree in Geology, or 24 units of equivalent upper-division coursework in Geology which must have been passed with a grade of "C-" or better and includes:
    GEOL 10Physical Geology3
    GEOL 10LPhysical Geology Lab1
    GEOL 100Mineralogy4
    GEOL 102Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology4
    GEOL 103Sedimentology/Stratigraphy4
    GEOL 110AStructural Geology and Tectonics4
    GEOL 111AField Geology2
    GEOL 111BField Techniques2
    Total Units24
    These core undergraduate courses cannot be used as graduate electives by students who do not hold a degree in Geology or equivalent;
  • a minimum 2.75 GPA in all Geology, Chemistry, Math and Physics courses, and a minimum 3.0 GPA in upper division Geology courses;
  • three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with your academic record and professional capabilities, sent directly to the Department;
  • a brief statement of interest, faculty sponsorship, area of specialty and long-term goals;
  • 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); and
  • two semesters of Math (MATH 30 and MATH 31).

Students who have deficiencies in Admission Requirements that can be removed by specified additional preparation may be admitted with conditionally classified graduate status. Any deficiencies will be noted on a written response to the admission application. You must be admitted to the degree program before graduate level courses will count toward the degree.

Admission Procedures

All prospective classified graduate students, including Sacramento State graduates, must file the following with the Office of Graduate Studies:

  • an online application for admission;
  • an application for admission to the Geology Graduate Program; and
  • two sets of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than Sacramento State.

For more admissions information and application deadlines please visit the Office of Graduate Studies website.

Applications are accepted as long as space for new students exists. A decision regarding admission will be mailed to the applicant upon receipt of all items listed above.

Minimum Units and Grade Requirement for the Degree

Units for the MS:  30

Minimum Cumulative GPA:  3.0

Advancement to Candidacy

Each student must file an application for Advancement to Candidacy, indicating a proposed program of graduate study. This procedure should begin as soon as the classified graduate student has:

  • removed any deficiencies in admission requirements;
  • completed at least 12 units in the graduate program with a minimum 3.0 GPA, including at least two courses at the 200-level;
  • obtained the graduate committee's acceptance of the thesis proposal; and
  • taken the Writing Placement for Graduate Students (WPG) or taken a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in their discipline within the first two semesters of coursework at California State University, Sacramento or secured approval for a WPG waiver.

Advancement to Candidacy forms are available on the Office of Graduate Studies website. The student must fill out the form after planning a degree program in consultation with his/her faculty advisor. After approval by the Geology Department Graduate Committee, the completed form is returned to the Office of Graduate Studies for approval.

Program Requirements

Required Core Courses (9 Units)9
GEOL 200Graduate Research Methods Seminar 3
GEOL 275Quantitative and Numerical Research Methods3
GEOL 290Regional Geology of the Western US3
Graduate electives (15-21 Units)
Select 15-21 units of the following: 115 - 21
Aqueous Geochemistry
Contaminant Hydrogeology
Groundwater Modeling
Geologic Remote Imaging
Advanced Structural Geology and Tectonics
Applied Geophysics
Surficial Processes
Advanced Hydrogeology
Seminar In Geology
Special Topics
Engineering Geology
Special Problems in Geology
Culminating Requirements (0-6 Units)
Select one of the following plans:0 - 6
Plan A
Master's Thesis
Plan B
Comprehensive Examination
Total Units30-36

Courses taken to meet the graduate core requirement will not count as elective courses. Elective courses (including GEOL 299) will be selected with prior approval of the student's faculty advisor in the area of interest. In addition to 200-level courses, these may also include up to 6 units of approved technical electives (but not the required courses) from the undergraduate curriculum. Not more than 3 units of GEOL 299 may be taken without prior approval of the Graduate Coordinator.