Master of Science in Geosciences

As a graduate student in the M.S. program in geosciences at Western Michigan University, you will gain a broad perspective on Earth processes as well as a specialization in a specific discipline within the geosciences. Through coursework and research, you will choose to specialize in one or more areas such as geochemistry, geophysics, geomorphology, hydrogeology, petrology, remote sensing, sedimentary systems, earth science education or economic geology. Your coursework will provide you with foundational theoretical knowledge, as well as the ability to carry out relevant field and laboratory techniques. During your thesis research, you will learn how to design an investigation, collect and analyze your own data, form interpretations and share your results with peers, faculty and members of the geoscience community. The program provides the specialized knowledge, critical thinking and communication skills necessary to succeed in a wide range of careers. Graduates of this program have attained positions in state and federal government agencies, non-profit agencies, environmental and geotechnical consulting firms, the oil and gas industry, the mining industry and the education sector. Many graduates have pursued a doctoral degree upon completing this program.

You should pursue an M.S. in geosciences if...

  • You want to specialize in one or two specific areas of the geosciences.
  • You want a program that includes theoretical work, laboratory and field training and original research leading to a thesis.
  • You want to learn how to conduct independent research through a thesis project.
  • You are interested in a career in geosciences working in a state or federal agency, non-government organization, environmental or geotechnical consulting, oil and gas or mining.
  • You are considering going on to pursue a doctoral program in the geosciences.


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

  • Geologist, geoscientist or physical scientist
  • Hydrogeologist or environmental scientist
  • Teacher, educational consultant or museum educator
  • Manager or upper level consultant 
  • Environmental scientist or senior specialist
  • Environmental regulator

Program overview

After completing basic coursework in two areas (either geophysics, geochemistry, hydrogeology or sedimentology), you choose to specialize your coursework and research in a discipline within the geosciences. Our faculty have research programs in geochemistry, spatial data analysis and informatics, geophysics, glacial geomorphology, earth science education, hydrogeology, igneous petrology, remote sensing, sedimentary systems and basin analysis, sedimentary petrology and economic geology. In your third semester, you begin your thesis in which you design and carry out an original research study. During this program you will present your work in poster or oral format at a professional conference.

  • 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 most recent academic 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


Graduate students have a departmental advisor who helps you meet the requirements of your program and the WMU Graduate College. In addition, M.S. and Ph.D. students have a thesis/dissertation advisor who supervises your research and can direct you to the courses you need. 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? Have questions about the preparation of your thesis/dissertation? All of these questions can be discussed with your graduate faculty advisor, Dr. Peter Voice.


What's next?

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