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The interdisciplinary MSc program Earth Systems Science (ESS) addresses the growing national and regional demand for trained professionals in Earth systems science and applications. The MS ESS degree emphasizes a research-oriented ,global systems approach to the study of the atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere, including their interrelationships and their interactions with the biosphere. Emphasis is on the observation and quantitative analysis of Earth systems. Program graduates are qualified to pursue careers that require knowledge of the basics of earth systems science and the requisite tools.
In order to complete the MSc degree, students are encouraged to undertake either an optional master’s thesis or a research project. In the latter case, students will have to pass a qualifying exam. See Guidelines.
Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admissions standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in the Admission section of this catalog. Applicants to the Earth Systems Science, MS should have a BS degree in Earth, environmental, or physical science. Previous course work should include two semesters each of calculus, chemistry, and physics, and one semester of statistics. They should have a minimum GPA of 3.00 in their undergraduate degree.
To apply, prospective students should forward a completed Mason graduate application online at http://admissions.gmu.edu/grad/. Official transcripts from each college and graduate institution attended, a current résumé, and a goals statement will be required. Applicants will also need three letters of recommendation and an official report of scores obtained on the GRE-GEN. The GRE requirement for admission may be waived if the student holds a master’s degree from an accredited U.S. institution. TOEFL scores are required of all foreign applicants.
Candidates must successfully complete 30 credits outlined below, being mindful that 10 of these credits must be GGS courses and 10 of these credits must be GEOL/CLIM courses (“Culminating Experience” credits do not count towards this requirement):
Earth Science Core (9 credits)
Choose one course from each of the following groups:
- CLIM 710 – Introduction to Physical Climate System Credits: 3
- CLIM 714 – Land-Climate Interactions Credits: 3
- GEOL 532 – Paleoclimatology Credits: 3
- GGS 670 – Introduction to Atmosphere and Weather Credits: 3
- PHYS 575 – Atmospheric Physics I Credits: 3
- CLIM 512 – Physical Oceanography Credits: 3
- GEOL 513 – Hydrogeology Credits: 3
- GGS 656 – The Hydrosphere Credits: 3
- CLIM 712 – Physical and Dynamical Oceanography Credits: 3
- GEOL 506 – Soil Science Credits: 3
- GGS 657 – The Lithosphere Credits: 3 or GEOL 601 – The Lithosphere Credits: 3
Techniques (6 credits)
Select two courses from the following:
- GGS 553 – Geographic Information System Credits: 3
- GGS 560 – Quantitative Methods Credits: 3
- GGS 579 – Remote Sensing Credits: 3
- GGS 680 – Earth Image Processing Credits: 3
- GGS 754 – Earth Science Data and Advanced Data Analysis Credits: 3
- Courses can be substituted with Advisor approval
Courses can be substituted with advisor approval.
Colloquium (2 credits)
- GEOL 536 – Paleontology Seminar Credits: 1 or GEOL 792 – Seminar in Earth Systems Science, Geology, & Earth Science Credits: 1 or CLIM 991 – Climate Dynamics Seminar Credits: 1
- GGS 900 – Geography and Geoinformation Science Colloquium Credits: 1
Electives (10 credits)
Complete 10 credits of other CLIM, GEOL, GGS, or EVPP courses at the 500 to 900-level (excluding 700, 798, and 799 courses).
Culminating Experience (3 credits)
Choose the culminating experience of either a thesis (totaling 3 credits) or a project (totaling 3 credits):
- GGS 799 – Thesis Credits: 1-6 or GEOL 799 – Master’s Thesis in Earth Systems Science Credits: 1-6 or CLIM 799 – Master’s Thesis in Climate Credits: 1-6
- GGS 700 – Comprehensive Exam Credits: 1 or GEOL 700 – Comprehensive Exam Credits: 1 or CLIM 700 – Climate Comprehensive Exam Credits: 1 and
- GGS 798 – Research Project in Earth Systems Science Credits: 1-6 or GEOL 798 – Master’s Research Project in Earth Systems Science Credits: 1-6 or CLIM 798 – Master’s Climate Research Project Credits: 1-6
Also see the University Thesis, Dissertation, or Project Guide for format and content suggestions.