Geology M.S. and Ph.D.

Graduate education has two major objectives: first, to obtain adequate mastery of subject matter in a chosen field, and second, to demonstrate the ability to perform and present the results of original and creative research. The first objective is attained through course work and independent study, and the second involves preparation of a thesis or dissertation. M.S. candidates in geology are required to prepare a thesis. All students pursuing the Ph.D. degree must present a dissertation.

The major goal of course study is to develop a professional scientist who is both well educated and versatile. This requires a comprehensive background in one or more specialized areas, a broad understanding of several related fields of knowledge, and practical experience in teaching and research. With this kind of education, the graduating student will be equipped to become a competent professional, one who will be qualified for a variety of employment opportunities, depending on personal preference and on current needs of universities and industrial or government organizations. This graduate training should also provide the background necessary to permit the graduate to continue self-education and not to become obsolete as the chosen area of specialization changes with time through increased quantification and new developments.

The choice of courses taken by graduate students varies widely depending on their interests, background, and degree being sought. Early during graduate studies, students choose a thesis or dissertation topic and a graduate program committee. Students and their committees then decide upon courses required for the research and the general program of study. Ph.D. candidates are required by the Graduate College to obtain at least 72 semester credits beyond the B.S. degree, at least 36 credits of previous graduate work usually may be applied toward the doctoral degree. Students seeking a M.S. degree in geology will usually be required to obtain 30 credits of graduate level courses of which 12 credits are in formal Geology courses numbered 500 or above, but not to include credits earned in Geology 590. Ten (10) credits of elective courses in Geology or in other disciplines relevant to the student’s field of interest are also required. Up to 6 credits for thesis research will be allowed toward the 30-credit total. The remaining credits are usually taken in cognate courses from fields related to their thesis or dissertation research.


Earth Science M.S. and Ph.D.

For M.S. degrees in Earth Science, a student must obtain 30 credit hours beyond the B.S., of which approximately two-thirds are in the major field and the remainder is in cognate fields. The general academic requirements for all graduate students at Iowa State University are outlined in the Graduate Catalog, which can be obtained from the Admissions Office.

Students who have majored in fields other than the earth sciences are encouraged to apply. The department has various interdisciplinary programs and a wide variety of research areas, some of which require a strong basic science background. The first year of graduate study may be largely devoted to removing deficiencies in the new major; however, such makeup work will be held to a minimum to avoid undue delay in completing graduate study.