Earth Science Department Graduate Program 

The earth science department at Emporia State University offers a Master of Science degree in Physical Sciences with earth science concentration. This degree allows considerable flexibility for students to design individual programs within the framework of earth-system science. Students may select courses and research topics in geology, physical geography, environmental science, paleontology, remote sensing, geographic information systems, meteorology/climatology, hydrogeology or other areas of earth science (ES or GO courses).

During the past several years, M.S. students have experienced excellent career success with governmental agencies and private industry. Several students have gone on to Ph.D. programs at other universities, including University of Delaware, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Arkansas, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and the University of Waterloo, Canada. Interdisciplinary training and experience are increasingly in demand for all sectors of the earth science profession. The M.S. degree offered at ESU is well-suited for current and future career opportunities.

Qualifying Examinations

At the time of application a degree aspirant’s previous academic work is evaluated. Upon admission to the program any existing deficiencies are identified and recommendations are made to address them by the graduate advisor for the applicant’s program. All students are required to pass the qualifying exam(s) for their discipline prior to the completion of 12 hours of graduate degree program work. If one or more parts of the exam are not passed, the student may be given an additional opportunity either by additional testing or coursework to satisfy this requirement. Additional information is available from a graduate advisor or the Departments of Physical Sciences office–see qualifying exam.

Graduation Requirements

Students are required to either 1) complete a minimum of 30 credit hours including a thesis (a maximum of 8 hours may be research and thesis combined), or 2) complete a minimum of 32 credit hours including a research project (a maximum of 6 hours may be research). Students must complete at least 15 hours of courses in earth science (ES or GO courses) exclusive of the thesis or research project. At least six hours of graduate credit must be taken from the following allied sciences: biology, chemistry, computer science, geography, mathematics, or physics.

Graduate Committee

Each individual who is pursuing a graduate degree in earth science must have his/her work approved and supervised by a graduate committee. This graduate committee is appointed by the recommendation of the department, and is generally chaired by the student's research advisor. A student's graduate committee must approve the program of study, including the outline of the research topic. Before the degree is awarded, the committee will examine the candidate orally over the thesis or research report and related topics.

Presentation of Research

A student is expected to present his/her research at a professional scientific conference or meeting. The presentation may take the form of a poster display, oral lecture, field-trip guide, workshop or other suitable format.

Admissions procedures
Graduate catalog 

Graduate Assistants

The department has a continuing need for qualified on-campus graduate teaching assistants (GTA) to help with undergraduate courses. GTA positions are paid about $6000 per academic year (2011-12) including a waiver of tuition and fees. See more information on graduate assistantships.

The earth science department has openings for graduate research assistants (GRA). Departmental research projects are underway in Kansas, Colorado, Canada, Europe, China, and elsewhere. Research assistants are needed with backgrounds in remote sensing, GIS, meteorology, climatology, hydrology, paleontology, soil science, and other areas of earth science. GRA positions may be paid up to $8000 per academic year.

Other Financial Support

Five special scholarships are available through ESU's graduate college, which are often used to supplement GRA and GTA salaries. See: for applications and deadlines.

Financial support for research leading to a thesis is available through the graduate college. See Harold Durst Research Award and Thesis and Dissertation Support Award.

Teaching Assistants and students completing M.S. theses may also be nominated by faculty for ESU's GTA Excellence in Teaching and Boylan Research Awards. Both are cash prizes. 

 Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Analysis

Emporia State University has a unique graduate certificate program in the specialty of geospatial analysis (GSA). The certificate program is a collection of courses designed to provide training and competency in geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, global positioning system (GPS), and related technologies. The GSA graduate certificate can be completed through on-campus courses or by distance learning via Internet. The certificate in geospatial analysis provides valuable technical skills for professional career advancement without the long-term commitment necessary for a Master's degree.

 Useful information for graduate students

 For more information, contact: James S. Aber,

Return to Earth Science homepage.
Emporia State University, Kansas
Last update April 2011