Distance Learning

The M.S. degree and graduate certificate in geospatial analysis (see below) are available for distance-learning students in the United States and abroad. Degree-seeking students come from all parts of the United States: California, Nevada, Colorado, Kansas, Florida, New York, Texas, etc. We also have distance-learning graduate students from other countries: Canada, Sweden, Estonia, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom. Course and degree requirements are the same as for on-campus students (see above). The following combination of courses may be utilized to earn the M.S. degree.

  • Graduate courses offered by ESU via Internet--see Online Courses, below.
  • Up to nine hours of graduate courses transfered from other universities.
  • Independent research and thesis conducted under faculty supervision.
  • In-person field classes offered at ESU.
Distance Learning Students 

Distance-learning students Audrey Rager (left) and Linda Freeman (center) prepare to enter a lava-tube cave with adjunct professor Bill Hirt (right) from the College of Siskiyous, near Mt. Shasta, California. Photo © J.S. Aber.

The normal time period for earning an M.S. degree via distance learning is three or four years. Students have completed thesis research on a variety of topics, including remote sensing of Mount Shasta, California; dendrochronology and lichenometry in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Colorado; ground-water movement and contamination associated with oil production and refining, Kansas; remote sensing of forest cover, Kansas; prehistoric ceramic artifacts, Arizona; and tsunami impact on Malaysia. Some distance-learning students have been supported with research assistantships to work on projects with faculty mentors.

Note: Distance-learning students are encouraged to complete at least one online earth science course from ESU before applying for admission to the graduate program. This course may count toward the degree plan.

Online Courses

The Earth Science department offers selected courses via the internet for Distance Education. The M.S. degree can be earned entirely online. More details on the online M.S. in Earth Science at ESU can be found here. In order to take these courses, students must be enrolled officially, and they must be in contact with the teacher for necessary course materials and instructions. It's not possible to complete the courses from the web pages only. The following courses are now online; next scheduled offering is indicated for each. For more information about distance learning and online courses in earth science, contact J.S. Aber.


Course Title


GO 326

Plate Tectonics

Each Spring

ES 331

Ice Age Environments

Every other Fall

GO 340

Gemstones and Gemology

As permitted

ES 341

Wetland Environments

Every other Spring

ES 351

Introduction to Geospatial Analysis

Each Spring

ES 521

History of Geology

Spring 2013

ES 366

Natural Hazards

Every other Fall

ES 546

Field Geomorphology

Every other Fall

ES 551

Computer Mapping Systems

Every other Fall

ES 555

Small Format Aerial Photography


GO 571


Each Spring

GO 572

Contaminant Hydrogeology

Each Fall

ES 567


Every other Fall

GO 580

Environmental Field Methods

Spring 2013

ES 739

Research Problem

Each Semester

ES 767

Quaternary Geology

Every other Fall

ES 767

Global Tectonics

Each Spring

ES 767

Wetland Environments

Every other Spring 

ES 771

Remote Sensing

Every other Fall

ES 775

Advanced Image Processing

Every other Fall

ES 875


Each Semester

More online curriculum

  • Web reports for ES 111 Introduction to Earth Science Lab.
  • Resources for GO 324 Rocks and Minerals.
  • Syllabus for GO 336 Mineralogy.

U.S. News and World Report listed Emporia State University among the top 20 nationwide for online graduate programs in education (Oct. 16, 2006).

ESU Earth Science online student projects.                                                

More geoscience webcourses.

For more information on ESU's Online earth science distance learning options see the attached flyer.