Jul 15, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog 
2023-2024 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geology, Thesis, MS

Location(s): WWU - Bellingham

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College of Science and Engineering

Graduate Faculty

Amos, C. B., PhD, tectonics, surface processes
Betka, P., PhD, tectonics, structural geology
Boujibar, A., PhD, planetary science, experimental petrology
Caplan-Auerbach, J., PhD, geophysics, seismology
Clark, D.H., PhD, glacial geology
Dahl, R. M., PhD, invertebrate paleontology, earth science education
DeBari, S.M., PhD, petrology, science education
Foreman, B.Z., PhD, stratigraphy, sedimentology
Garcia Lasanta, C., PhD paleomagnetism
Geary, E.E., PhD, igneous and metamorphic petrology, science education
Grossman, E.E., PhD, coastal geology and marine geophysics
Housen, B.A., PhD, geophysics
Mitchell, R.J., PhD, hydrogeology, watershed hydrology, environmental and engineering geology
Mulcahy, S. R., PhD, metamorphic petrology, structural geology, tectonics
Pfeiffer, A.M., PhD, geomorphology and surficial processes
Ponton, C., PhD, stable isotope geochemistry
Rice, M.S., PhD, planetary geology and geophysics
Roland, E., PhD, marine and coastal science, marine geophysics
Rusk, B.G., PhD, hydrothermal system, geochemistry
Saenger, C., PhD, marine and coastal science, paleoclimate, stable isotope geochemistry
Sas, M., PhD, geochemistry
Walowski, K., PhD, igneous petrology

Program Advisor: Dr. Susan DeBari, Environmental Studies 237, 360-650-3588

Department Chair: Dr. Bernie Housen, Environmental Studies 240, 360-650-6573

Program Description and Goals

Western Washington University offers a Master’s program in Geology that aims to prepare students for professional employment in geoscience careers in the Pacific Northwest and beyond or for continuing graduate studies at the doctoral level. We specialize in structure/tectonics, petrology, volcanology, geomorphology, geophysics, hydrogeology and environmental/engineering geology, geothermal energy, sedimentology, planetary geology, and geoscience education.

This program normally leads to employment in consulting firms; in local, state, or federal government resource-based or planning agencies; and in teaching at community colleges or at a secondary level. The degree also serves as a foundation for graduate studies beyond the M.S. level, and for those interested in pursuing related careers, such as environmental law, natural resource management, or policy. The Department encourages an integrative, multi-disciplinary approach.

The M.S. program produces professional geoscientists with the ability to conduct original and meaningful scientific research. Graduates possess a broad grounding in geosciences and sophistication in their area of concentration.


Students with a bachelor’s degree and who meet the requirements of the Graduate School are invited to apply for admission to the graduate program in geology. Students with a BS/BA degree in geology, which includes a recognized geology field course, generally will be offered full admittance into the program provided they have the appropriate math, chemistry, and physics background. Prerequisite course work may be necessary, depending on the applicant’s chosen field of study. Applicants without a BS/BA degree in geology will need to take a minimum of 19 quarter credits, including physical geology, historical geology, stratigraphy/sedimentology, mineralogy, petrology, geomorphology, structural geology, geophysics, and a recognized geology field camp, up to a maximum of 42 geology credits, which may include additional prerequisites in chemistry, physics and math, depending on each individual situation. Students who have not completed these courses before entering the geology MS program must do so and maintain an average of B or better in prerequisite courses before being advanced to candidacy. Courses taken to make up these deficiencies are not counted toward the MS degree.

Application Information

Deadline: The geology department admits students to enter in fall quarter. Admittance to the program also will depend on the availability of an advisor in the student’s area of interest.

TA Deadlines: To be considered for a teaching assistantship, application and supporting materials must be on file by January 15.

Supporting Materials:

  • A statement of the student’s background and purpose
  • Reference letters
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • CV/Resume

Program Requirements (45 to 48 credits)

Required Coursework

❑ 33 or more credits of courses at the 400- and 500-level, including 6 required credits of GEOL 595, with a maximum of 10 credits from 400-level courses.

❑ 12-15 credits of GEOL 690.

Electives in Specialization

Geology and supporting courses are selected under advisement from the chair of the thesis committee. Decisions about those courses should be made as soon as possible in the student’s graduate career.

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