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Department of Geological Sciences


Master of Science Degree in Geology

The Master of Science degree program in Geology offers opportunities for advanced study and research designed to prepare students for roles in industry, government, research institutes, or educational institutions. The M.S. in Geology degree is jointly offered at UTSA and at The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) to increase the number of faculty available to work with students and the courses offered to graduate students on both campuses.

Program Admission Requirements. In addition to satisfying the University-wide graduate admission requirements, applicants are expected to have completed an undergraduate degree in geology (equivalent to UTSA’s) or a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, life sciences, or engineering from an accredited institution of higher education with sufficient coursework in the geosciences. Background or remedial courses may be required to remove deficiencies. Applicants lacking these requirements will be asked to complete the deficiencies early in their program. Applicant’s evaluations will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s academic record, a personal statement of research interest, undergraduate transcripts, and scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). When GRE scores are used to determine admission, applicants will be compared to applicants with similar socioeconomic backgrounds. All supporting documents should be sent to the Graduate School. Incomplete applications will not be considered until all required items are in an applicant’s file.

The graduate faculty and Graduate Advisor of Record (GAR) will be responsible for recommending acceptance into the program and will take the lead in advising students. Some teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or research fellowships are available, but require a separate application; requests should be addressed to the Chair, Department of Geological Sciences.

Graduate Committee. As specified by University regulations, candidates for the Master of Science degree must have a Graduate Committee. The Committee will be chaired by the student’s graduate advisor and will consist of a minimum of two other members. Each student must decide if they are going to complete the thesis or nonthesis option because that will determine the type of committee appointed. The Committee should be appointed once a thesis supervisor and topic have been determined. University rules for the supervising committee must be followed. Only tenured or tenure-track faculty members can chair these committees, and no more than one member can be a nontenure-track faculty member or be from another institution.

Comprehensive Examination. Candidates for the Master of Science degree must pass a comprehensive examination administered by their Graduate Committee. The student should normally schedule this examination the semester before the degree requirements are to be completed. The student’s Graduate Committee will determine the content of the examination. Normally, the examination will consist of academic material that the student is expected to have mastered during his or her course of study. The examination may only be taken twice. If it is not passed the first time, it may be scheduled again in the following semester.

Thesis Option in Geology

Degree Requirements. The Master of Science degree in Geology requires the successful completion of a minimum of 33 semester credit hours (exclusive of coursework or other study required to remove academic or admission deficiencies).

Thesis Option Requirements. All candidates for the Master of Science in Geology with thesis option must complete a minimum of 9 semester credit hours of the following:

GEO 5103 Current Topics in the Geosciences 3 hours
GEO 6983 Master’s Thesis 6 hours

A minimum of 24 semester credit hours of graduate credit in organized classes with the approval of the Graduate Advisor of Record is also required. This may include up to 6 hours of GEO 6953 Independent Study. Under special circumstances, students may take up to 6 semester credit hours of upper-division undergraduate coursework in the College of Sciences or College of Engineering with approval of the Graduate Advisor of Record. Candidates must submit a research proposal to the student’s Graduate Advisor and Committee no later than the third semester of graduate work. Candidates for the Master of Science degree electing the thesis option must also pass a final oral comprehensive examination in which they successfully defend their thesis before their Graduate Committee. The thesis defense will take two to three hours to complete. The thesis defense is normally scheduled in the last semester before the degree requirements are to be completed. Part of the thesis defense will be a public presentation in an open, advertised forum.

Nonthesis Option in Geology

Degree Requirements. The Master of Science degree in Geology requires the successful completion of a minimum of 39 semester credit hours (exclusive of coursework or other study required to remove academic or admission deficiencies).

Nonthesis Option Requirements. A nonthesis option is available for those who want the opportunity to earn the Master of Science degree in Geology primarily through organized coursework. Nonthesis students should consult the Graduate Advisor of Record on their program of study during the first semester of residence. Candidates are required to complete a minimum of 9 semester credit hours of the following:

GEO 5103 Current Topics in the Geosciences 3 hours
GEO 5973 Directed Research 3 hours
GEO 6953 Independent Study 3 hours

An additional 30 semester hours of graduate credit as approved by the Graduate Advisor of Record is required. Under special circumstances, students may take up to 6 semester credit hours of approved upper-division undergraduate coursework within the College of Sciences or College of Engineering with approval of the Graduate Advisor of Record. Candidates are required to pass a written comprehensive examination that covers several major areas of geology. This examination is taken after the student has completed at least 30 semester credit hours of coursework. If GEO 6961 Comprehensive Examination is taken, it does not contribute toward the 39-semester-credit-hour minimum.


Certificate of Professional Development in Geographic Information Science

The purpose of the Professional Certificate in Geographic Information Science is to train individuals from a broad range of academic disciplines to be competent users of Geographic Information Science and the related tools of Remote Sensing and Web-based GIS data publication and sharing. Although the program is generally oriented toward geological sciences professionals, individuals with business, social science, medical, engineering, computer science, criminal science or education backgrounds will benefit from this professional certificate. Individuals completing this certificate will gain a practical and hands-on knowledge of Geospatial Science. All courses taken in the Professional Certificate in Geographic Information Science program may be applied toward a Master’s degree in Geology or Environmental Science, a Doctoral degree in Environmental Science and Engineering, or other graduate degree with approval of the Graduate Advisor of Record of the degree program.

Description of Certificate Program. The Certificate in Geographic Information Science is a 15-hour program. Degree-seeking, special graduate or non-degree-seeking students from any discipline at UTSA are allowed to complete the Certificate in Geographic Information Science program. Candidates for the certificate should ideally complete the program within one year, but not more than two years. Students will receive program guidance from the GIS Certificate Advisor.

Certificate Curriculum. To complete the certificate program, students are to take the following four graduate courses addressing Geographic Information Science, and a fifth course, chosen in consultation with and approved by the student’s GIS Certificate Advisor, which will serve as a “capstone” course in which the student will apply at an advanced level what has been learned in the other four required courses. The fifth course may be any course with a strong component of GIS application, including independent study, in the student’s area of specialty.

GEO 5053    Remote Sensing
GEO 6513    Advanced GIS
GEO 6543    Internet Served GIS

and one of the following:
ANT 6653    Spatial Techniques in Anthropology
CE   5293    Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
DEM 7093    GIS for Population Science
GEO 5033    Geographical Information Systems
GRG 5913    Design and Management of Geographic Information Systems



Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Environmental Science and Engineering

UTSA offers a graduate-studies program leading to the Ph.D. degree in Environmental Science and Engineering. This program is administered by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Most of the participating graduate faculty are in the College of Sciences (including the Department of Geological Sciences) and College of Engineering (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering); additional faculty in this interdisciplinary program are from other colleges. Please refer to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering section of this catalog for details about this program.

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