Jul 13, 2024  
2024-2025 University Catalog 
2024-2025 University Catalog

Geology, M.S.: 30 units

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Offered by: College of Science, Geological Sciences


The curriculum matrix for the degree program may be found here. The curriculum matrix is the alignment of courses (curriculum) with the desired goals and student learning outcomes of the program. It shows what is taught and how these outcomes are achieved through the completion of the degree program.

Program Description

Our Master’s program in Geology prepares graduates for employment in all fields of Geological Science, placement into prestigious PhD programs, and teaching at secondary and community college levels.  We emphasize applied skills demanded by potential employers and academic institutions.  Fundamental to the program is a thorough understanding of basic geologic principles rooted in field and laboratory experiences.  The geologic framework provided by the MS degree will enable graduates to meet the intellectual challenges of their professional or academic careers and assume leadership roles in their profession.  The program is sufficiently flexible to meet student interests in the application of geology to the solution of hydrologic, geophysical, environmental, geo-engineering, or resource extraction problems facing our society. 

As a polytechnic university we are dedicated to the “Learn by Doing” philosophy and stress practical interactions between students, faculty and industry/ government professionals.  Please see our Geology MS home page for additional information:


Jonathan A. Nourse, Graduate Coordinator


Our location in a unique geologic and urban environment provides a dramatic natural laboratory in which to conduct geological research.  Frequent occurrences of earthquakes, landslides, storms, floods, wildfires, and human-induced environmental mishaps in the densely populated region surrounding Cal Poly Pomona present significant challenges that require rapid response and evaluation.  All Geological Sciences faculty play an important role in community issues like natural hazards mitigation, site investigation, resource management, and public outreach or education.  Many of our graduates are placed locally as scientists in geotechnical firms and water agencies or as teachers in primary or secondary schools.  Hence, the Geological Sciences Department and its programs have great value and relevance to the University and the community.

Career Opportunities

A Master’s degree in Geology greatly enhances the job opportunities and career advancement for Earth scientists with BS degrees.  We target both working professionals and traditional graduate students (i.e., those finishing BS degrees and perhaps seeking preparation for a PhD program).  Through hands-on learning methods, faculty-mentored research, and exposure to current technology, our students acquire skills applicable to careers in the Geosciences and related disciplines. The Department’s programs provide a global perspective for problem solving, decision making and leadership roles in a changing world. Our graduates commonly land jobs in the geotechnical, hydrogeology, and resource development industries; Others enter career paths in natural hazards investigation and mitigation.

Please refer to our Careers web page for some examples of Geoscience jobs:


Learning Outcomes

Graduates from the Geology Master’s degree program should be able to:

  1. Participate effectively in seminar-style discussions of current Geoscience topics
  2. Synthesize details of published Geoscience literature and present oral synopsis to graduate peers and faculty
  3. Utilize contemporary equipment, laboratory techniques and computer technology to solve geologic problems
  4. Develop and present scientific proposal for Master’s thesis
  5. Conduct original research related to Master’s thesis
  6. Write Master’s thesis document
  7. Defend results of Master’s thesis research with a formal oral presentation to graduate peers and thesis committee


To earn a Masters of Science degree in Geology, students must complete 30 semester units as specified below .

Major Electives: 19 units

Choose from the courses below.  Twelve units must be 5000-level.


A formal written Master’s Thesis, with an Oral Defense to graduate committee, is the Culminating Experience required of all graduates:

Each Master’s candidate works closely with a faculty adviser to develop a Thesis Proposal (GSC 6930 -1 unit) that is presented to student peers and graduate faculty during the second term of residence.  A wide variety of research endeavors may be appropriate, ranging from classical research to scientific extensions of industry-related work efforts.  An ideal thesis plan will be custom-tailored to the student’s professional interests.

Each student conducts independent Master’s Thesis Research (GSC 6940 ]-3 units) custom-tailored to the objectives outlined in the Thesis Proposal.

The Master’s Thesis (GSC 6960 -2 units) is a formal written document describing completed research.  It identifies the problem, states the major assumptions, explains the significance of the undertaking, sets forth the sources for and methods of gathering information, presents and analyzes the data, and offers a conclusion or recommendation.  The finished product evidences originality, critical and independent thinking, appropriate organization and format, and thorough documentation.  An oral defense of the thesis is required.

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