Master of Science in Applied Geological Sciences

  • MSAGS
  • MSAGS
  • MSAGS
  • MSAGS
  • MSAGS
  • MSAGS
  • MSAGS
  • MSAGS
  • MSAGS

Overview of M.S. Applied Geological Sciences Program

Applied Geological Sciences

ConocoPhillips Integrated Sciences Building (CPISB), Room 101, (907) 786-1298, uaa_geosciences@alaska.edu

www.uaa.alaska.edu/academics/college-of-arts-and-sciences/departments/geology/

Graduate study in applied geological sciences prepares students for work in the multitude of careers including environmental geology/sciences, oil and gas industry, minerals and mining, and state and federal agencies that require a deep and broad foundation in the geological sciences. A Master of Science degree in Applied Geological Sciences (MSAGS) implies not only an enhanced level of understanding of the fundamentals of geological sciences, but also an applied skill set that allows students to apply advanced concepts of geological sciences to problem solving.

The Master of Science in Applied Geological Sciences has both a thesis and a non-thesis option. The thesis option includes a focus on skills related to the acquisition of new knowledge and is designed for students who wish to pursue higher entry level positions into jobs or to eventually pursue a Ph.D. degree. The non-thesis option is designed for students who wish to further emphasize applied geological sciences and prefer to substitute additional classroom education and a comprehensive written exam or a professional project and comprehensive oral exam for graduate research experience.

Program Objectives

The UAA applied geological sciences graduate program objectives are to provide graduates with:

1. Graduate-level technical knowledge within geological sciences.

2. An ability to conceive and conduct graduate-level geological sciences research and problem solving.

3. An ability to effectively communicate graduate-level geological sciences concepts and applications to a broad audience.

Student Learning Outcomes

In keeping with the above objectives, the expected student learning outcomes of the UAA MSAGS program include an ability to:

1. Use rigorous methods of scientific analysis.

2. Demonstrate mastery of graduate-level geological sciences theory.

3. Conduct advanced geological sciences research and/or demonstrate skill application.

4. Apply the scientific method to graduate-level problems in one or more focus areas of geological sciences.

5. Work effectively within the professional framework of geological sciences careers or be prepared for Ph.D. research programs.

Admission Requirements

Satisfy the Admission Requirements for Graduate Degrees and deadlines. Instructions are available on the Geological Sciences Department website. All students must hold a baccalaureate degree in geological sciences or closely related discipline and submit to the UAA Office of Admissions:

  1. A completed UAA graduate application.
  2. Official transcripts of all college-level work.
  3. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) results, taken within two years prior to the application date.
  4. Three letters of recommendation from professors or other professionals particularly qualified to attest to the applicant’s qualifications for graduate-level research and study.
  5. A resume or curriculum vitae.
  6. A one-page personal statement discussing the applicant’s credentials and readiness for graduate studies. This is an opportunity for the applicant to share relevant information, qualifications, and experience that would not be included with the UAA graduate application form or reflected on official transcripts. It is also the applicant’s opportunity to describe his or her desire and commitment to pursue graduate study in geological sciences.

The application deadline for consideration of teaching assistantship funding in the Fall semester is March 1.

Advising

All graduate students enrolled in the MSAGS program must have an academic advisor identified prior to acceptance in the program. The academic advisor will assist the student through all aspects of the degree process, including:

  1. Mentoring the student throughout the graduate degree duration. 
  2. Approving a graduate studies plan.
  3. Overseeing the academic progress of the student.
  4. Guiding the student through the development and completion of the graduate thesis project or professional project, where applicable.
  5. Working with the graduate committee to evaluate the final thesis or professional project, or to develop and implement a comprehensive written exam, where applicable. 

Academic Requirements

Graduation Requirements

  • Satisfy the General University Requirements for Graduate Degrees.
  • Complete the Program Requirements below.
Program Requirements, Thesis Option

Students must satisfy all University Requirements for Graduate Degrees and complete coursework and thesis work approved in advance by the student’s academic advisor and graduate committee.

Students must complete a total of 30 credits of coursework, of which at least 24 credits must be at the 600 level. Up to 6 credits of 400- or 600-level coursework in related disciplines may count toward the degree if not used to fulfill any requirements of a baccalaureate degree. Coursework selected by the student must be approved by the student’s graduate committee and must appear on the student’s Graduate Studies Plan.

1. Complete 15 credits of Geological Sciences courses from the following:15
Advanced Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
Advanced Mineral Resources
Advanced Petroleum Geology
Advanced Depositional Systems and Dynamic Stratigraphy
Applied Sedimentary Petrology and Diagenesis
Advanced Hydrogeology
Advanced Structural Geology and Geomechanics
Glacial and Quaternary Geology
Permafrost
Geoarchaeology
Advanced Geology of Alaska
Environmental Geochemistry
Isotope Geochemistry
Applied Geophysics
Petroleum Geophysics and Petrophysics
Graduate Topics in Geology
2. Complete the following professional practices course:
GEOL A689Geology Graduate Professional Practices3
3. Complete a minimum of 6 credits of elective courses, which may consist of 600-level courses in the department (including GEOL A698) or 400- or 600-level courses outside of the department that are relevant to the degree and which have been approved on the Graduate Studies Plan.6
4. Complete 3 credits of geological sciences graduate thesis and at least 3 credits of graduate directed research:6
Directed Research
Graduate Thesis
5. A written thesis proposal, submitted to the student’s graduate committee by the beginning of the third semester, presenting evidence that the thesis requirements will be satisfied. The proposal will consist of an explicit problem statement, a literature review, and one or more sections describing the research and analytical methods that will be applied. The proposal is subject to approval by the student’s graduate committee following an oral thesis proposal presentation scheduled no sooner than two weeks after submission of the written proposal.
6. Thesis document and oral thesis defense.
Total Credits30

Thesis Requirements

The completed thesis must:

  1. Describe how the work is associated with the current state of the science in the candidate’s graduate field of study.

  2. Contribute to the body of knowledge in the candidate’s field of graduate study.

  3. Be eligible to be published in either peer-reviewed technical conference proceedings or a peer-reviewed journal as judged by the candidate’s graduate committee.

  4. Demonstrate command of knowledge and skills associated with the candidate’s program of graduate study and as stated in the Student Learning Outcomes.

  5. Be defended by the student in an oral presentation to the candidate’s graduate committee.

Program Requirements, Non-Thesis Option

Students must satisfy all University Requirements for Graduate Degrees, complete coursework selected from one of three focus areas approved in advance by the student’s graduate advisor, and complete either a professional project or additional coursework. Completion of a professional project requires the student to have a graduate committee.

Students must complete a total of 30 credits of coursework, of which 24 credits must be at the 600 level. Up to 6 credits of 400- or 600-level coursework in related disciplines may count toward the degree if not used to fulfill any requirements of a baccalaureate degree. Coursework selected by the student must be approved by the student’s graduate advisor and must appear on the student’s Graduate Studies Plan.

1. Complete at least 15 credits from one of the geological sciences focus areas below:15
I. Applied Environmental Geology
Advanced Depositional Systems and Dynamic Stratigraphy
Advanced Hydrogeology
Advanced Structural Geology and Geomechanics
Glacial and Quaternary Geology
Environmental Geochemistry
Isotope Geochemistry
Applied Geophysics
II. Applied Petroleum Geoscience
Advanced Petroleum Geology
Advanced Depositional Systems and Dynamic Stratigraphy
Applied Sedimentary Petrology and Diagenesis
Advanced Hydrogeology
Advanced Structural Geology and Geomechanics
Advanced Geology of Alaska
Petroleum Geophysics and Petrophysics
III. Applied Mineral Resources
Advanced Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
Advanced Mineral Resources
Advanced Structural Geology and Geomechanics
Advanced Geology of Alaska
Environmental Geochemistry
Isotope Geochemistry
Applied Geophysics
2. Complete the following professional practices course:
GEOL A689Geology Graduate Professional Practices3
3. Complete 12 credits of electives, which may include 600-level courses in the department and up to 6 credits of 400- or 600-level courses in a related supporting discipline as approved by the student’s graduate advisor. 3 credits of GEOL A688 may be applied toward this requirement.12
4. Successfully complete a comprehensive written exam or a professional project report and comprehensive oral exam.
Total Credits30

Professional Project Requirements, if applicable

The project must solve an applied or practical problem in the geological sciences to the extent that original developments by the student are evident in the project report.

1. The project problem and solution must be explained in the context of the current state of the science by means of a thorough review of pertinent literature.

2. The project must include advanced technical components directly involving modern practice and applications of geological sciences.

3. The project must have sufficient scope to clearly demonstrate the student’s advanced technical expertise in geological sciences.

4. The project report must demonstrate command of knowledge and skills directly associated with the student’s graduate program of study and chosen focus area (I, II, or III above).

5. The project proposal, submitted prior to enrolling in GEOL A688, must present evidence that the above requirements will be satisfied and will generally consist of an explicit problem statement, a literature review, and methodology.

6. The final project will be in the form of a written report and oral presentation to the student’s graduate committee.

 
  • General University Requirements for Graduate Degrees

    General University Requirements

    To complete a graduate degree, a student must complete the General University Requirements (GURs) for graduate degrees, school or college requirements, and program requirements. GURs for all graduate degrees are as follows:

    1. A student must be admitted to the degree program and establish an approved graduate studies plan (GSP).
    2. No more than 9 credits may be completed in the student’s graduate program before program admission, unless a student wishes to apply credits from a previous graduate certificate in the same or closely related subject area.
    3. The student must complete at least 30 approved semester credits beyond the baccalaureate degree for a master’s degree, and must complete at least three years of post-baccalaureate study for a doctoral degree. For a master’s degree, individual programs may place limits on the number of credits derived from thesis, individual research and/or independent study courses. No more than 45 credits may be required by any master’s degree program, unless specifically approved by the University of Alaska Board of Regents. The actual number of credits required for each graduate degree program, including prerequisites for required courses, are specified in the current catalog. While no minimum or maximum credits are specified for doctoral programs, a student is expected to be affiliated with the university for at least two years. On approval by the dean of the Graduate School and college dean, an official GSP may stipulate other course credit requirements, including leveling courses.
    4. Up to 9 semester credits not used toward any other degree (graduate or 400 level) may be transferred to UAA from an accredited institution and counted toward a graduate degree. In the case of a second master’s degree, up to 9 credits may be transferred from a previous master’s degree. In the case of a doctoral degree, up to 21 credits may be transferred from previous graduate study. Acceptance of transfer credit toward program requirements is approved by individual programs, college deans and the Graduate School.
    5. Only 400- and 600-level courses approved by the graduate student’s advisor, graduate studies committee and dean or designee may be counted toward graduate program requirements. Courses at the 500 level are for professional development and are not applicable toward any degree.
    6. A cumulative GPA of at least 3.00 must be earned in courses identified in the official GSP.
    7. In 600-level courses, a grade of C is minimally acceptable, provided the student maintains a cumulative GPA of 3.00 (B) in all courses applicable to the graduate program. At least 21 credits must be taken at the graduate level (600) for any master’s degree, including thesis credits. For performance comparison only, in 600-level courses a grade of P (pass) is equivalent to a B or higher, but does not enter into the GPA calculation.
    8. Courses taken as credit by examination, or graded credit/no credit (CR/NC) do not count toward graduate program requirements. They may, however, be used to satisfy prerequisites or establish competency in a subject, allowing the advisor or committee to waive certain courses in an established program as long as the total credits in the program remain the same.
    9. All credits counted toward the degree, including transfer credits, must be earned within the consecutive seven-year period for a master’s degree or the consecutive 10-year period for a doctoral degree prior to graduation. If these requirements are not met, admission expires and the student must reapply for admission and meet the admission requirements in effect at that time (see Catalog Year in Graduate Degree Policies).
    10. Students must be continuously registered throughout their graduate program (see Continuous Registration in Graduate Degree Policies).
    11. Students must complete all requirements established by the program and must pass a written or oral comprehensive examination; an evaluation of independent scholarship, project or thesis defense; or similar evaluation as established by the program. For programs with a thesis option, selection of that option will be indicated on the GSP and on the annual progress report. The evaluation, examination or defense must be approved by all graduate committee members as passing the requirement. For programs with projects that result in a written record, those records will be maintained by the programs for one year and are subject to review by the Graduate School. After the completion of a written or oral comprehensive exam, a thesis or a project, the student’s graduate committee chair must submit an exam or defense report. (See Examinations below.)
    12. When an oral comprehensive examination, project or thesis defense, or evaluation of independent scholarship is required, the student may select an outside reviewer approved by the dean of the Graduate School and college dean to participate in the evaluation. An outside examiner is required for a doctoral defense. Typically, the outside examiner is a faculty member from another department in the university, or other qualified individual in the area in which the student is seeking a degree.
    13. All theses and dissertations must have final approval by the dean of the Graduate School.

    Examinations (Requirement Determined by Program)

    Qualifying Examinations

    Some graduate degree programs require the student to complete a written and/or qualifying examination before advancement to candidacy. This examination is an interim evaluation of academic progress; the student may pass unconditionally or conditionally. A conditional pass indicates specific weaknesses that the student must remedy before degree requirements are completed. The Annual Report of Graduate Student Progress and Advancement to Candidacy Form should indicate mechanisms for addressing these weaknesses.

    Comprehensive Examinations

    Some graduate programs require that students pass a comprehensive examination, given to determine whether a graduate student has integrated knowledge and understanding of the principles and concepts underlying major and related fields, in order to achieve advancement to candidacy. For master’s degrees, the graduate student’s advisory committee may choose to give a written and/or comprehensive examination prior to advancement to candidacy. For doctoral degrees, written comprehensive examinations are normally required, although the student’s committee may additionally choose to give an oral examination. A Report on Comprehensive Exam must be submitted to the Graduate School indicating date of completion, and approved by the graduate advisor and committee, program chair, college dean, and the Graduate School.

    Defense of Project

    Graduate students who are required to complete a project in fulfillment of degree requirements may be required to pass an oral defense of the project. Defense dates must be submitted to the Graduate School and publicly posted one week before the defense.The defense will consist of a presentation followed by questions on the research, analysis and written project presentation. All committee members must be present at the project defense. A Report on Project Defense must be submitted to the Graduate School indicating date of completion, and approved by the graduate advisor and committee, program chair, college dean, and the Graduate School.

    Defense of Thesis

    Graduate students who are required to complete a thesis in partial fulfillment of degree requirements must pass an oral defense of the thesis. Defense dates must be submitted to the Graduate School and publicly posted one week before the defense. The defense will consist of a presentation followed by questions on the research, analysis and written thesis presentation. The Graduate School will not accept a thesis for final submission until the student has successfully defended it. All committee members normally must be present for the defense of thesis, either physically present or through electronic media. A Report on Thesis/Dissertation Defense must be submitted to the Graduate School indicating date of completion, and approved by the graduate advisor and committee, program chair, college dean, and the Graduate School.

    Examination Committee

    In most cases, the student’s graduate advisory committee prepares and gives the examinations under guidelines formulated by the program in which the degree is being taken.

    Outside Examiner (for Doctoral Defense)

    An outside examiner representing and appointed by the dean of the Graduate School is required at all doctoral defenses. The examiner must be from a different department than the student and the chair of the advisory committee. The outside examiner is present to determine that a stringent, unbiased examination is fairly administered and evaluated, but may also make substantive contributions to the evaluation process.

    Advancement to Candidacy (Requirement Determined by Program)

    Some master’s programs and all doctoral programs require students to apply for advancement to candidacy. Advancement to candidacy status is a prerequisite to graduation and is determined by the program chair or designee. Candidacy is the point in a graduate study program at which the student has demonstrated an ability to master the subject matter and has progressed to the level at which a GSP can be approved. For doctoral program students, an Advancement to Candidacy Form serves as the final GSP.

    To be approved for candidacy, a student must:

    1. Be in good academic standing.
    2. Demonstrate competence in the methods and techniques of the discipline, which may include passing a comprehensive examination.
    3. Receive approval of the independent scholarship, thesis or research project proposal from the student’s graduate committee.
    4. Satisfy all prerequisites, remove all academic deficiencies and satisfy all terms of provisional admission.
    5. Submit an approved final official GSP.

    Thesis Review

    Before final acceptance, all members of a student’s graduate committee, department/program chair/director, college dean, and the Graduate School dean must approve a thesis as required by the student’s graduate program. Changes or corrections to the thesis may be required at any of these levels. The graduate committee is primarily responsible for thesis evaluation, grammar, punctuation, and usage, but the department chair/director and college dean will also conduct reviews to monitor the quality of theses and check for any overlooked errors. The Graduate School checks that format and style conform to UAA standards. Ideally, these checks should be made before the defense of a thesis or dissertation. In addition, the Graduate School dean will review selected theses and will not give final approval until all required corrections are made. Thesis credits will be given a deferred grade (DF) until all requirements are met.

    Project Review

    Before final acceptance, all members of a student's project committee, department/program chair/director, and college dean must approve a project as required by the student's graduate program. Changes or corrections to the project may be required at any of these levels. The project committee is primarily responsible for project evaluation, grammar, punctuation, and usage, but the department chair/director and college dean will conduct reviews to monitor the quality of projects and check for any overlooked errors. Students should check with their programs for required formatting. Ideally, formatting checks should be made before the defense of the project. In addition, the college dean will review projects and will not give final approval until all required corrections are made. Project credits will be given a deferred grade (DF) until all requirements are met.

    Graduate Student Research

    Graduate students planning to conduct research that involves the use of human participant subjects and/or human participant data, vertebrate animals, hazardous chemicals, biohazards, and/or radioactive materials are required to complete the Research Compliance and Intellectual Property (RCIP) Form. Also, if graduate students are planning research that will lead to intellectual property with commercial potential, they should complete the RCIP Form. At the same time, all graduate students are expected to respect the copyright, license and intellectual property rights that may attach to files of any media type, including software, texts, databases, images, video, music and other audio files, especially when using university computing and/or networking resources. For further information, contact the UAA Research Compliance Office or the associate vice provost for Research Administration and Commercialization.

 

Please be sure to review the UAA Graduate Degree Policies in the UAA Catalog.

To be considered for departmental funding, your admission application must be submitted by:

  • Fall Applicants - July 15th
  • Spring Applicants - November 15th

Learn more about Admission Deadlines.

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