Accelerated M.A. in Earth Science

As a student in the accelerated M.A. in earth science program at Western Michigan University, you will begin to earn credits toward your graduate degree while completing your bachelor’s degree. In this program, you will gain a broad and interdisciplinary perspective on Earth processes. Your undergraduate coursework will include study of such topics as the earth’s deep interior; surface processes; earth materials such as minerals and rocks, mountains, environmental systems and fossils; and Earth history. Your advanced undergraduate coursework can include such topics as geophysics, geochemistry and hydrogeology. After completing the bachelor’s requirements, your M.A. program is deliberately flexible, allowing you to choose a combination of coursework that best fits your interests and career goals. Coursework is drawn from areas such as geochemistry, geophysics, geomorphology, hydrogeology, petrology, remote sensing, sedimentary systems and economic geology. Additional coursework may come from other disciplines such as biology, chemistry, geography, environmental science, climatology or education. This coursework will provide you with foundational theoretical knowledge, as well as the ability to carry out relevant field and laboratory techniques necessary for an earth science career in state and federal government agencies, non-profit agencies, environmental and geotechnical consulting firms and the education sector.

You should pursue an accelerated M.A. in earth science if...

  • You have a wide spectrum of interests in the earth and environmental sciences.
  • You want to minimize the time and cost of earning a master’s degree.
  • You want a flexible graduate program that you can customize to your specific interests and career goals.
  • You are interested in a career in the environmental or earth science sectors.
  • You are considering going on to additional graduate work in the earth sciences, but are unsure of what specific field you want to pursue.

Program overview

To be eligible for this program, you need to have senior standing (minimum 88 credit hours), have earned at least 30 credit hours at WMU and have earned at least 20 credit hours as a declared major in geology, geochemistry, geophysics or hydrogeology. As you complete the basic coursework toward your major, you may begin to take specialized courses at the graduate level. Up to 12 credit hours of designated coursework can be counted in both your undergraduate and graduate programs. After you complete the undergraduate degree, you automatically progress to the M.A. in earth science degree program. This program allows you to customize your course selection based on your interests and career goals. At least half of your graduate coursework will be drawn from geoscience disciplines such as geochemistry, spatial data analysis, geophysics, glacial geomorphology, hydrogeology, igneous petrology, remote sensing, sedimentary systems and basin analysis, sedimentary petrology and economic geology. Up to half of your graduate coursework can come from other disciplines such as biology, chemistry, geography, environmental science and climatology or science education. A thesis is not required as part of this degree program, although you do have the opportunity to participate in field or laboratory research.

  • Program design: Our graduate students have 20 to 40 percent classroom/laboratory education with a 60 to 80 percent focus on research. Students will gain experience through attending dynamic lectures, performing laboratory research in our state of the art facilities and applying their knowledge in hands-on field courses. Our graduate programs are designed for national and international students coming from diverse scientific backgrounds with a variety of career goals—from industry to academia.
  • Program requirements: To learn more about specific program requirements, consult the 2018-19 graduate catalog.
  • Course listings: To see which courses will be offered when, check out the WMU course listings. You can also read course descriptions for geosciences classes here.
  • Professional development: Students in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences are encouraged to gain valuable professional, research and field experience through joining our highly active student organizations.

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