Master of Arts in Earth Science

As a graduate student in the M.A. in earth sciences program at Western Michigan University, you will gain a broad and interdisciplinary perspective on Earth processes. Your 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. Graduates of this program have attained positions in state and federal government agencies, non-profit agencies, environmental and geotechnical consulting firms and the education sector.

You should pursue an M.A. in earth sciences if...

  • You have a wide spectrum of interests in the earth and environmental sciences.
  • 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.


Employment options for holders of a master’s degree in earth sciences are broad. Graduates seek employment with state and federal government agencies, private consulting firms, non-profit organizations and educational services. People with formal earth science training are also needed in industries as varied as journalism, environmental law, sales, marketing, information services, management and publishing. Some specific careers available to those with master’s degrees in the earth sciences include:

  • Geologist*, geoscientist or geographer
  • Hydrogeologist
  • Teacher*, educational consultant or museum educator
  • Manager or mid-level consultant
  • Environmental technician, scientist and specialist
  • Environmental regulator

*Some positions require additional licensure not provided as part of this program. For more career information, contact your faculty advisor (listed below) and visit the Career Guidance and Alumni Spotlight pages.

Program overview

There are no required courses in this program. At least half of your 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 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: Geology Club, Student Chapter of American Institute for Professional Geologists, Student Chapter of American Associate of Petroleum Geologists and the Student Chapter of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

Our students

  • Meet our students: Watch video interviews featuring undergraduate and graduate students from a wide variety of personal and educational backgrounds discussing their experiences in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences.
  • Recent student achievements: Read about the accomplishments of our current students.
  • Alumni spotlight: Read about where our students find careers after graduating.

Associated faculty

  • Faculty directory: Learn about our faculty members' professional and academic backgrounds, their teaching and research interests and publishing history.
  • Faculty and staff research specialties: Learn about each faculty and staff members' unique research interests (links to laboratories are also provided here).


Graduate students have a departmental advisor who helps you meet the requirements of your program and the WMU Graduate College. Please consult your advisor regularly to ensure that academic requirements are met.

  • Academic advising: Confused about which classes to take, how to meet program requirements, or what your progress is towards graduation? Confused about Graduate College forms or deadlines? All of these questions can be discussed with your graduate faculty advisor, Dr. Peter Voice.


What's next?

Apply   Schedule a visit   Meet with advisor   Contact us