Apr 16, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Master of Science in Earth, Atmosphere and Environment

The M.S. degree prepares one for professional work relating to the earth, atmosphere and environment, or for further work leading to a doctorate. The degree may also be valuable to teachers of 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

The department welcomes applications from students with wide ranging interests and from varied backgrounds.

All new students who are admitted to a program are required to consult with the department’s director of graduate studies before registering for courses. The coordinator will assist students in identifying an appropriate advisor who will form a committee to arrange a program of study. A student must choose either a thesis or a non-thesis option, subject to the consent of the advisor and graduate committee. A student whose background is deficient may be required to take additional course work at the undergraduate level. Deficiencies should be resolved in the first year and do not normally carry graduate credit toward the degree.

Check departmental information for additional requirements.

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 50% of these semester hours must be in Earth, Atmosphere and Environment.

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.

  • Credits: 3
  • Credits: 1
  • To be taken eacher semester in residence.
    Only 6 credits count toward towards the semester-hour requirement for the M.S. degree in the department


  • Satisfactory completion of the requirements for either the thesis or non-thesis option.

Thesis Option

The thesis option consists of a minimum of 34 semester hours of graduate course work, including a maximum of 6 semester hours of EAE 699 (Master’s Thesis). Unless approved by the departmental graduate committee, no more than 3 semester hours of independent study courses (EAE 670 and/or EAE 770) may be used to meet the required course work. 

Each M.S. candidate is required to meet with their 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 departmental graduate committee to obtain permission to pursue this option. The student is required to pass a comprehensive evaluation in their final term.