Jun 17, 2024  
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog 

Master of Science in Geology

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The M.S. degree prepares one for professional work in geology or environmental geosciences, or for further work leading to a doctorate. It may also be valuable to teachers of earth science in secondary schools and community colleges. Teachers and prospective teachers, if not already licensed, will be expected to obtain the necessary requisites for licensure in Illinois.

Students are normally expected to meet the geology and environmental geosciences, chemistry, physics, and mathematics requirements for the B.S. in geology and environmental geosciences at NIU. However, students whose undergraduate major was in a science other than geology are encouraged to apply. Such students may be required to complete a core sequence of undergraduate geology and environmental geosciences courses in consultation with their adviser and the graduate committee.

The student learning outcomes for this degree are located at http://www.niu.edu/assessment/clearinghouse/outcomes/index.shtml.


A minimum of 34 semester hours of graduate credit taken under either the thesis or non-thesis option is required. At least 25 of the 34 semester hours must be in geology and environmental geosciences.

With the approval of the department and the office of the dean of the Graduate School, a maximum combined total of 15 semester hours of graduate courses taken as a student-at-large at NIU, plus credit earned in NIU courses taught outside of the U.S., plus graduate credit for courses accepted in transfer from other accredited institutions, may be counted toward meeting the master’s degree requirements.

In or prior to the first semester of course work, the student is required to participate in an oral interview with three faculty chosen by the departmental graduate program director. These interviews are to aid the adviser and student in the preparation of an appropriate course of study.

Thesis Option

At least 25 semester hours of graduate course work, excluding GEOL 699, plus a thesis, which must be successfully defended as part of a comprehensive oral examination. No more than 3 semester hours of independent study courses (GEOL 670 and/or GEOL 770) may be used to meet the requirement of a minimum of 25 non-thesis semester hours of graduate course work. Additional independent-study hours may be counted toward this total only with the approval of the departmental graduate committee. Each student is required to make a public presentation of the results of the thesis research through a departmental colloquium, as well as a defense of the thesis.

Each M.S. candidate is required to meet with his or her thesis committee at least once each academic year, beginning in the student’s second semester. This meeting is to evaluate the progress of the candidate in the thesis research and toward the degree. The committee’s assessment will be shared with the candidate and the graduate program director.

Non-Thesis Option

At least 34 semester hours of graduate course work. During the first semester in the program, a student must petition the department’s graduate committee to obtain permission to pursue this option. The student is required to pass a written comprehensive examination in his or her final term.

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