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Advising for Master's Students in Geological Sciences

The Geological Sciences Department places the highest emphasis on graduate student advising. Advisers work individually with their students, overseeing coursework and research. Advisers assist with professional development, something many programs overlook, which includes such written and verbal communication skill, attention to detail, critical analysis, and—if needed—encouragement regarding work habits. Achieving an M.S. degree would mean very little without an increase in professionalism. This is why the departments requires all M.S. students to have an adviser, as detailed below, and why the department gives individual attention to students.

What Does An Adviser Do?

  • Helps graduate students plan their coursework.
  • Supervises and assists graduate student research.
  • Helps a student prepare a poster or presentation for a geology convention.
  • Assists with applying for research and travel grants.
  • Serves as both a writing coach and editor for theses and scientific papers. (Very important!)
  • Gives general advice and counsel when graduate school problems arise.
  • Works with Graduate Chair and student concerning teaching assignments, office space, and computers.
  • Provides guidance about job hunting as graduation approaches.
  • And much more.

How Does An Adviser Assist With A Thesis?

  • First and foremost, an adviser helps pick a specific research question to be addressed. The overall topic will be within the adviser's research interests, but the specific problem is defined in cooperation with the advisee; the department offers flexibility, which ensures both parties will enjoy the chosen work.
  • Oversees the writing of a thesis proposal during a student's first year. This includes guidance about problem formulation, the scientific literature, and formatting.
  • Helps pick members of the student's thesis committee and coaches students as they prepare a verbal presentation to the committee of a research plan.
  • Shows an advisee how to pursue their chosen research, including data collection in the field and lab.
  • Coaches an advisee on data analysis and interpretation.
  • Acts as a writing coach and editor during writing of a thesis.
  • Assists with preparation of a thesis defense, a verbal presentation to the committee and department of a student's research findings.