Jun 24, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Bulletin 
2023-2024 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geology MS


The School of Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences offers a program of study and research leading to a Master of Science in Geology.


Campus: Hattiesburg

Admission Requirements

Domestic and international applicants to the Geology M.S. program must fulfill all minimum admission requirements and meet application deadlines designated by the Graduate School, which can be found in the current USM Graduate Bulletin. Required materials include official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose that summarizes your academic interests and reasons for applying to the program. The program does not require submission of GRE scores. Applicants should have an undergraduate major in geology or equivalent. Other undergraduate majors may be considered for admission, contingent that remedial coursework is taken as a condition of acceptance into the program. These courses may include physical geology, historical geology, mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, geomorphology, invertebrate paleontology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, and/or field geology.

To be considered for a graduate assistantship (GA), applicants must further submit a CV or resume. Additionally, please include a section in your written statement of purpose that summarizes your research and/or teaching experiences and articulates why you would be a good candidate for a GA position. First consideration for selecting GA recipients will be given to those who have all application materials submitted by February 15th for the Fall semester or October 15th for the Spring semester. Applicants submitting complete applications after these dates are eligible for a GA only if positions remain available.

Applicants should contact individual faculty members concerning their research programs and opportunities to study under their direction. To contact potential advisors, please review USM BEES faculty research profiles and contact them by e-mail to inquire about possible research projects. Preference will be given to those applicants whose research interests align with existing faculty expertise.

Program Requirements and Academic Policies

A minimum of thirty (30) graduate hours (18 hours at the 600 level or greater), with a 3.0 GPA, is required to graduate. Students must enroll in one (1) hour of Seminar (GLY 689) during their first academic year.  A minimum of fifteen (15) hours of GLY content-based graduate-level courses and a cumulative 3.0 GPA is required to graduate.  Of these 15 hours, 9 hours must be 600-level GLY courses.  With the approval of the student’s committee, the student has an option of taking up to nine (9) graduate hours of cognate courses outside of the discipline within the minimum hourly requirements.  Six (6) hours of thesis credit (GLY 698), three (3) hours of Research in Geology (GLY 691), and three (3) hours of Special Problems in Geology (GLY 692) may be used towards the minimum of 30 graduate hours.

Students should identify a general area of thesis research and establish a thesis director and graduate committee during their first semester in the program. A thesis prospectus should be approved by the graduate committee no later than the end of the second semester. The student will complete an original research project, and submit and successfully defend a thesis to receive the M.S. degree. Students must also pass a comprehensive exam, which may be satisfied by taking and passing the Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG) exam while in residence as an enrolled graduate student. Otherwise, a separate comprehensive exam will be offered by the student’s committee. Students who have passed the ASBOG exam prior to acceptance into the program will be required to pass a separate comprehensive exam.

For a student unable to submit and successfully defend a thesis, a non-thesis option may be made available if their committee gives approval. If approved, six hours of thesis (698) credit will not count toward the minimum of thirty-one graduate hours required to complete the degree. Further, those students will be required to submit a portfolio, technical report, or similar product agreed upon in coordination with the committee that demonstrates that student’s ability to conduct geological research, which is subject to review and approval by the committee. All other graduation requirements remain the same except for the thesis prospectus, submission, and defense.

Continuous Enrollment Requirement: Students must meet the requirement specified in the front section of this Bulletin.

See General Degree Requirements  and General Academic Information  for other requirements and procedures.

Course Requirements (30 hours)

  • GLY 698  - Thesis (6 hrs)
  • GLY 689  – Geology Seminar (1 hr)
  • Content-based electives (15 hrs.) — 500-level or higher GLY prefix courses except GLY 689, GLY 691, GLY 692, GLY 697, GLY 698
    • 9 hours of content-based electives must be at 600-level
    • Up to 9 hours of content-based electives may be cognate electives (non-GLY prefixes from related disciplines); TBD by Master’s Committee
  • Additional GLY electives – Up to 6 hrs of GLY 698, 3 hrs of GLY 691 (Research in Geology), or 3 hrs of GLY 692 Special Problems in Geology may be used towards the minimum of 30 graduate hours.