October 30, 2017 at 5:24 pm

Geological Sciences Introduces Professional Master of Science Degree

Two speacialists examining coal at an open pit

The diversity of problems that the geoscientist is tasked with solving in today’s world requires training beyond an undergraduate degree, but it may not require the research typically associated with a master’s thesis.

To meet this need, the Geological Sciences Department launched a professional, non-thesis M.S. degree in Geological Sciences designed for students who are planning to enter the geology workforce, but are not planning to pursue career paths that require a Ph.D.

The non-thesis master’s degree provides geology graduates and others from related STEM disciplines with advanced, applied training and experiences that will enhance their marketability as the next generation of practicing geoscientists and allied professionals.

The M.S. is the degree-level most often sought by employers in the geosciences. Excellent opportunities are available for student with this degree in the energy, environmental, government, and nonprofit sectors.

The M.S. non-thesis degree requires eight 4-unit graduate courses in geology or other approved disciplines and completion of a comprehensive final examination. The non-thesis option provides the flexibility to allow students to design an accelerated program of coursework in as little as one academic year, though students also may take courses over two years.

Students can choose from three areas of focus:

  • Applied Geology Focus
  • Geology with a Focus on Business
  • Geology with a Communications Focus

For more information, contact the Geological Sciences Graduate Chair, Dr. Dan Hembree.


  1. Jill Schlaefer says:

    50% of the skills I used in my post-grad employment were learned during my graduate internship and thesis work. Without seeing the rationale for the changes, it does seem like a devaluation of the degree MSc to not complete the field, research & reporting experience.

  2. Daniel Hembree says:

    Hello Jill,

    Thank you for your comment. The new non-thesis Master of Science degree is not a replacement of the thesis-based MS degree, but a new track. The MS program that you completed, which involves completion of a research-based thesis, remains a primary graduate degree of the OU Department of Geological Sciences. Our faculty, students, and alumni have recently noted, however, the need for another graduate degree track that provides advanced training in the geosciences for those whose career goals do not require specialized research training. This includes not only those who seek employment in traditional geoscience fields, but also those who seek training for careers in science journalism, business management, government service, or public outreach and education. The new non-thesis track addresses these needs. Students completing a non-thesis MS degree complete additional training via courses and seminars in lieu of a thesis project, and all of our advanced courses include projects that involve research, data collection, data interpretation, and presentation of written/oral reports. These projects provide the critical skills needed to be successful in the geosciences. I’d like to invite you to discuss this new track in more detail by contacting me, our department chair, or members of the alumni board.

    Dr. Daniel Hembree
    Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator
    Department of Geological Sciences

  3. Jill Schlaefer says:

    Thank you. Your explanation helps to clarify and better understand the program. In an era that costs more per semester than I paid for 4 years and grad school, I can appreciate the pragmatic refinements of the degree.

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