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Geological Sciences M.S. (Thesis) Requirements

Remedial Coursework

All prospective graduate candidates should possess a strong undergraduate record and excellent letters of recommendation. Students are generally expected to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution including: 1) a year-long course in chemistry, 2) a year-long course in physics or two courses of biology, and 3) mathematics through integral calculus. The M.S. program is also open to undergraduate majors in physics, chemistry, biology, engineering or mathematics who have accumulated some core coursework in geology, such as mineralogy, petrology, sedimentology, structural geology, and a field methods course. Requirements vary per specific sub-discipline in geology. Please check with your potential adviser or the Graduate Chair for more information. Any remedial coursework in geological sciences will be established by the faculty and student during the admission process and will be explicitly listed in the offer letter from the department to the graduate program applicant. Deficiencies may usually be taken for graduate credit but generally cannot be used to meet the departmental minimum requirements (see below). However, certain deficiency courses can be taken to meet both degree and deficiency requirements. For more information on the eligibility of deficiency courses to meet degree requirements, please contact your adviser or the Graduate Chair. Deficiency courses must be made up during the first year of residence and the minimum acceptable grade is "B."

Minimum Degree Requirements

A minimum of 30 graduate credits (overall) is necessary for conferral of an M.S. degree from Ohio University. In addition to completion of a thesis, six letter-graded courses at 5000-level or higher, a minimum of four of which are in Geological Sciences, must be completed. One of the six courses must be GEOL 5050 – Statistical Methods in Geology. The remaining two letter-graded courses may be in related sciences from other departments (geography, biology, chemistry, physics), but must be approved by the student’s thesis adviser. Students will enroll in at least one credit hour of GEOL 6950 –  Thesis each semester that they are actively engaged in thesis research. The total number of hours enrolled per semester should be reflective of the total effort in thesis research. All graduate students are also required to enroll in GEOL 6921 – Colloquium each term they are in residence.

Academic Load

The Ohio Board of Regents has defined a full-time graduate student as one enrolled for 15 credits each term. The full-time load for any Geological Sciences graduate student is, therefore, 15 hours of graduate level courses, special problems or projects, or thesis work until graduation. The department requires all students supported by teaching or research assistantships to enroll in 18 hours per semester. A student wishing to take more than 18 credits of coursework in any term must secure written permission from his or her adviser.

Maintaining the Required GPA

Letter grades are used to indicate levels of performance in courses as follows: A, excellent; B, good; C, fair; D, poor; F, failure. Ohio University further delineates most letter grades with + and - designations. The designation of "CR" (credit) is used to indicate the student has successfully completed a set of credit hours with no indication of the level of performance, such as credit received in Thesis Research and Colloquium. The designation "I" is used to indicate coursework that is incomplete; the course must be completed within a time specified by the university, which is usually before the second week of classes of the following term, or the "I" will automatically convert to an "F." The designation "PR" (progress) is for courses in which work is continuing and for which it would be inappropriate to give a grade at the conclusion of a term, such as Thesis Research credits.

A candidate for a graduate degree must complete his or her program with a minimum overall grade point average of 3.0. In determining a quality point average, 4 points are allowed for each credit hour graded A, 3 points for each credit hour graded B, 2 points for each credit hour graded C, 1 point for each credit hour graded D, and 0 points for each credit hour graded F. Grades scored with a plus or minus are given slightly higher or lower point values. For example, 3.67 points for an A-, 3.33 points for a B+. A course may be repeated for credit only when failed and only once; only the second grade is then considered.

The department will be notified by the Graduate College whenever a student's graduate grade point average falls below 3.0. The department then has the option to recommend whether or not the student should be retained on graduate status. If the department recommends retaining the student, he or she will be placed on probation and required to achieve a cumulative graduate grade point average equal to or above 3.0 by the end of the following term—and maintain such an average for the remainder of his or her residence—or be dropped from the program. However, if a student achieves two grades below B- or one grade of "D" or "F" in graduate courses, then the department and college guidelines indicate an immediate dismissal of the student from the program.

Time Limits for Degree Completion

The maximum time allowed between the date when a student first registers for graduate study and the date when the requirements for the M.S. degree are completed is six calendar years. The department faculty, however, encourages graduate students to work with their adviser to develop a thesis topic and research plan which can be completed in two academic years, inclusive of summer fieldwork. Department funding is typically limited to two years and rapid progress through graduate school is a trait looked favorably upon by employers and Ph.D. programs. Students who do not complete their requirements in the six-year period may be permitted to continue in graduate study only if exceptional circumstances are associated with the delay in progress and will need to reapply to the graduate program. An extension of time is automatically granted to those students whose programs have been interrupted by military service.

Residence Requirements

A minimum of 30 graduate credits (overall) is necessary for conferral of an M.S. degree from Ohio University. At least one term or two summer terms must be spent in an institutional full-time status on the Athens campus. Students on financial support must be registered for 18 hours of graduate credit during the regular academic year or 9 hours of graduate credit during the summer when financially supported. Students seeking the M.S. degree must be officially registered for at least 1 hour of credit during the term in which the degree is received.

Summary of Requirements for M.S. Degree 

The department shall recommend as candidates for the degree of Master of Science to the Graduate College and the College of Arts & Sciences, those students who have completed the minimum requirements outlined below. These requirements are not necessarily listed in order of fulfillment.

M.S. degree candidates must have:

  1. Satisfied any and all remedial undergraduate coursework recommended upon their entrance into the program (i.e., deficiencies).
  2. Completed an approved program of at least 6 letter-graded graduate courses, including GEOL 5050 "Statistical Methods in Geology," and a minimum of 30 graduate credit hours.
  3. Maintained at least a "B" (3.0) in coursework counted for graduate credit.
  4. Worked closely with their thesis adviser to select a thesis topic and submitted and orally defended an approved proposal of the thesis.
  5. Provided satisfactory evidence that they have general understanding of the fundamental principles and problems in geology relating to their thesis research by successfully conducting independent research.
  6. Submitted an approved written thesis, gave an oral public presentation, and successfully defended an oral examination of research findings.