Geology

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The School of Earth Systems and Sustainability offers programs leading to the Master of Science degree in Geology (thesis required), a Master of Arts degree in Earth Sciences (thesis not required), a Graduate Certificate in Earth Sciences, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Geosciences. Students may also pursue an  Students may also pursue an  interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Environmental Resource and Policy (see entry in this catalog). 

All graduate programs require a nonrefundable $65 application fee that must be submitted with the application for Admissions to Graduate Study in Geology. Applicants must pay this fee online by credit card.

Graduate Programs

The objectives of the graduate degree programs are to develop the student’s competence in the basic fields of earth science and to provide for specialization dependent on student and faculty interest. Facilities and staff are available for studies involving environmental geology, geomorphology, hydrogeology, paleontology, micropaleontology, paleoecology, coal petrology, coal geology, Pleistocene geology, environmental geochemistry, molecular organic geochemistry, solid earth geophysics, environmental geophysics, applied geophysics, geographic information systems, remote sensing, surface and subsurface mapping, structural geology, stratigraphy, sedimentation, sedimentary petrology, sedimentary environments, ore deposits, petrology, mineralogy, crystallography, energy resources, and petroleum geology. Many of the faculty are actively conducting research in which statistical and computer techniques are applied to problem solving in the earth sciences. Interdisciplinary research with other departments is encouraged.

SIU Geology faculty and graduate students conduct internationally-recognized research all over the globe. In North America, there are current and recent research efforts in locations ranging from Alaska to Florida, from Nova Scotia to the Sonoran Desert. Farther afield, SIU Geology researchers are active in Antarctica, Asia, South America, South Africa, and Europe. The Southern Illinois region itself offers a wide variety of geological conditions ideal for individual study and research.

Students must be admitted unconditionally to the Graduate School before they can be officially admitted to the graduate program in geology. Admission to the graduate program in geology is based on an evaluation of the preparation, ability, and promise of the applicant. Prerequisites for admission include: 1) receipt of GRE test scores sent directly to the Department of Geology; 2) completion of the online application; and 3) receipt of at least three letters of recommendation from professors, academic advisers, former employers, or others familiar with the applicant’s academic performance, research, or other relevant work. The Department of Geology normally admits graduate students for entrance in the fall semester; however, applicants will be considered for spring admission.

A student admitted with course deficiencies may be required to complete or audit some undergraduate courses. First year teaching assistants are required to enroll in and complete GEOL 500. Other specific requirements will be determined by the student’s advisory committee. Students are evaluated on an individual basis. Their programs are determined by their career goals and the results of informal interviews with individual faculty members.

Assistantships

Teaching assistantships are awarded and supervised by the Department of Geology. Research assistantships are usually available only from research grants of individual faculty members and are supervised by the faculty member in receipt of the sponsoring grant. Research assistantship awards require prior approval of the assistantship committees of the department. Students in the Geology Master of Science program, the Geosciences Ph.D. Program, and the Environmental Resources and Policy Ph.D. program are eligible to apply for teaching and research assistantships from the Department of Geology.

As a matter of policy, the Department of Geology does not ordinarily provide any student working on a master’s degree financial support for more than two years, or four years for doctoral students. Requests for relaxation of this policy must be made in writing to the department chair.

Requirements for the Master of Science Degree (Thesis Option)

  • A minimum of 50% of credit hours must be numbered 500 or above, and must be earned at SIU.   
  • Courses taken are determined by the student and an advisory committee. The student will not be allowed to apply more than eight hours of independent study or research courses toward the master’s degree (exclusive of thesis credits).
  • A student majoring in geology may select a minor field. The minimum course work should then include 20 hours of geology and 10 hours in the minor field.
  • A thesis subject must be approved by the chair of the advisory committee at least 20 weeks before the date of graduation.
  • A final oral examination, primarily concerned with defense of the thesis is administered as the last step before graduation. The student may be asked any questions the committee feels are relevant.
  • In order to pass the final oral examination, students must receive a favorable majority vote from their thesis committee meeting in formal session. Should the student fail the final oral examination, the student, upon concurrence of a majority of the committee, may arrange a time for a re-examination not less than 30 nor more than 120 days after the first examination. Students who fail the final orals on their second attempt will be ineligible for the master’s degree from the Department of Geology.
  • Two copies of the approved thesis must be presented to the Graduate School at least three weeks prior to graduation, and a third copy must be presented to the Department of Geology.

Requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in Earth Sciences

The Master of Arts Degree in Earth Sciences is open to post baccalaureate students with degrees in earth science, geology, or related fields. Two fields of concentration are available: Geospatial Analysis and Environmental Geology. It is intended to expand the knowledge, skills, and specialized training in geological topics. The courses taken will be determined by interests of the individual student, but must be approved by the student’s three-person program advisory committee. At least three (3) credits of GEOL 591, Individual Research in Geology must be taken.

Recommended Courses for the Geospatial Analysis Concentration:

  •     GEOL 420 (3)     Petroleum Geology
  •     GEOL 428 (3)     Paleoecology and Environments of Deposition
  •     GEOL 435 (3)     Solid-Earth Geophysics
  •     GEOL 466 (3)     Tectonics
  •     GEOL 474 (3)     Geomorphology
  •     GEOL 476 (3)     Quaternary Geology
  •     GEOL 478 (3)     Advanced Environmental Geology
  •     GEOL 481 (3)     Sedimentary Basin Analysis
  •     GEOL 484 (3)     Geologic Remote Sensing
  •     GEOL 526 (3)     Advanced Topics in Applied Paleoecology
  •     GEOL 535 (3)     Advanced Topics in Geophysics
  •     GEOL 536 (3)     Earthquake Seismology
  •     GEOL 538A (3)  Gravity
  •     GEOL 538B (3)  Magnetism
  •     GEOL 576 (3)     Coastal Geomorphology and Sedimentology
  •     GEOL 577 (3)     Advanced Topics in Surficial Geology
  •     GEOL 578 (3)     Fluvial Geomorphology
  •     GEOL 579 (3)     Soil Geomorphology
  •     GEOL 591 (3)     Individual Research in Geology
  •     GEOG 420 (3)     Advanced Geographic Information Systems Studies

Recommended Courses for the Environmental Geology Concentration:

  •     GEOL 417 (3)     Isotope Geochemistry
  •     GEOL 420 (3)     Petroleum Geology
  •     GEOL 421 (3)     Organic Geochemistry
  •     GEOL 428 (3)     Paleoecology & Environments of Deposition
  •     GEOL 470 (3)     Hydrogeology
  •     GEOL 471 (1)     Hydrogeology Laboratory
  •     GEOL 474 (3)     Geomorphology
  •     GEOL 476 (3)     Quaternary Geology
  •     GEOL 478 (3)     Advanced Environmental Geology
  •     GEOL 481 (3)     Sedimentary Basin Analysis
  •     GEOL 484 (3)     Geologic Remote Sensing
  •     GEOL 517 (3)     Advanced Topics in Geochemistry
  •     GEOL 526 (3)     Advanced Topics in Applied Paleoecology
  •     GEOL 527 (3)     Micropaleontology
  •     GEOL 576 (3)     Coastal Geomorphology and Sedimentology
  •     GEOL 577 (3)     Advanced Topics in Surficial Geology
  •     GEOL 578 (3)     Fluvial Geomorphology
  •     GEOL 579 (3)     Soil Geomorphology
  •     GEOL 591 (3)     Individual Research in Geology
  •     GEOG 420 (3)    Advanced Geographic Information Systems Studies

Graduate Certificate

The Certificate in Earth Science with an optional concentration in Geospatial Analysis or Environmental Geology is open to post baccalaureate students with degrees in earth science, geology, or related fields. It is intended to expand the knowledge, skills, and specialized training in geological topics. The course work will include eighteen (18) graduate credit hours in Geology. While there are no specific courses required, the courses taken will be determined by the student and the departmental Coordinating Committee. For the concentrations in Geospatial Analysis and Environmental Geology, please refer to the recommended course lists above for the Non-Thesis Master’s program.

Students must maintain a B average in graduate courses and must follow the rules of the Certificate Policy established by the Graduate School. Maximum time allowed to complete the requirements for the certificate is five years.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Geosciences

The primary objective of the doctoral program in Geosciences is to develop a student capable of successfully conducting original research and the presentation of an acceptable dissertation describing the results, analysis, and implications of that research. To achieve this goal, the student must meet the criteria established by the University, the Graduate School, and the faculty participating in the doctoral program in Geosciences. The program of study will be flexible, to allow students to take courses offered by departments within the College of Science, and across campus. Each student is expected to take graduate level courses (excluding readings, independent studies, and internship) of at least 3 credits each from at least four different faculty members at SIU. The program requires a minimum of 48 semester hours, 24 of which may be 600-level dissertation credits.

Before the end of their second year in the program, students shall have:

  1. established an advisory committee including their dissertation adviser and four additional members (any member of the graduate faculty in the University can serve on the committee, but at least one member must be from a department other than the Department of Geology);
  2. demonstrated competence in at least one research tool (the student’s advisory committee will determine the requirements and research tool competence); and
  3. presented themselves to the advisory committee for a comprehensive written and oral examination.

The format of the comprehensive examinations shall be established by the faculty participating in the doctoral program in Geosciences. Students who fail the comprehensive examinations and wish to remain in the program may, with faculty consent, retake the examinations. Students who fail the second written-oral examination will be dropped from the program. After successful completion of the comprehensive exams, the student must prepare and defend a dissertation proposal. If a student successfully defends the dissertation proposal, he or she is admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. The comprehensive examinations and dissertation proposal defense are part of the formal assessment process.

As a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geosciences, the student is expected to make normal progress toward the successful completion and presentation of original research. Ordinarily, the doctoral student should expect to spend a minimum of two years beyond the Master’s degree, or its equivalent, in residence. Students will be required to present an acceptable dissertation describing original research performed with minimal supervision and deemed by the advisory committee to be of such quality as to merit publication in appropriate professional journals. A final oral examination will be held after completion of the doctoral dissertation. This examination will concentrate on the defense of the dissertation but is not restricted to the dissertation topic or area. The dissertation will be accepted provided the dissertation advisor and at least three of the other four members of the committee so agree.

Degree requirements, graduation, and time limits are subject to the general guidelines of the Graduate School.

Environmental Resources and Policy Doctoral Program

The central focus of the Environmental Resources and Policy Ph.D. is advanced interdisciplinary training and research on geological, physical, biological, and social processes responsible for natural resource and environmental problems facing contemporary society. Additionally, the ER&P Ph.D. focuses on assessing public policy alternatives to address those problems and create new opportunities.

Within the broad and flexible ER&P framework, a customized program is developed for each student, permitting him/her to conduct research in traditional and non-traditional earth science sub disciplines, under the direction of one or more Geology faculty members. The program is jointly guided by the Department of Geology, the Department of Geography and Environmental Resources, and the College of Agricultural Sciences (Departments of Agribusiness Economics; Forestry; and Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems), with support from the School of Law, the College of Engineering, other key faculty at SIU, and State of Illinois environmental agencies. Please see the Environmental Resources and Policy section of this catalog for detailed information and admission procedures.