Geological and Environmental Sciences

Student Requirements - Navigating the Program

MS Programs Overview

Progress through the MS programs:

Please note that students who start in the Spring semester should agree a reasonable track through the program with their advisor.

First semester (fall):

Second semester (spring):

Upon successful completion of the above, students may be advanced to candidacy for the degree.  Students must be advanced to candidacy before applications for graduation can be accepted by Graduate Studies.

Final semester:

  • Students must be actively enrolled in their final academic semester (i.e. the semester you intend to graduate).
  • File for graduation in the Graduate School Office.
  • Submit final working draft of thesis/project to graduate advisory committee at least two weeks before scheduled presentation. The final working draft of the thesis/project is the result of multiple reviews and edits between the faculty mentor and student.
  • Oral thesis/project presentation - attended by advisory committee and other interested parties.
  • Final Progress Form (obtain from Office of Graduate Studies (PDF)) - Represents final committee approval.
  • Graduate Studies approval of final thesis draft
  • Submit the following forms to the Graduate Coordinator, Geological and Environmental Sciences
    1. Thesis/Project Assessment Form (PDF)
    2. Presentation Assessment Form (PDF)
    3. Student Exit Survey Form

All these must meet university deadlines for the semester.

Specific Requirements for the MS in Geosciences or Environmental Sciences

Continuous enrollment is required. A maximum of 9 semester units of transfer and/or CSU Chico Open University course work may be applied toward the degree if taken immediately before starting the program. This applies to special session credit earned through Open University and to courses offered for academic credit through the Center for Regional and Continuing Education. Correspondence courses and U.C. extension course work are not acceptable.

Completion of all requirements as established by the department graduate committee, the Graduate Advisory Committee, and the Office of Graduate Studies, to include:

  1. Completion of an approved program consisting of at least 30 units of 400/500/600-level courses as follows:
    1. At least 18 units in the discipline of geosciences and environmental science, including:
      1. For Geosciences: GEOS 600, GEOS 601, GEOS 630, GEOS 640, and GEOS 699T. Graduate courses from geosciences or other areas (e.g., mathematics, engineering, chemistry, or biological sciences) may be selected to constitute the remaining 12 units, with the approval of the graduate advisory committee and the Graduate Coordinator. Substitutions for required courses must be taken at Chico and must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator.
      2. For the option in Hydrology/Hydrogeology, all Geosciences requirements plus GEOS 621 and GEOS 660.
      3. For Environmental Sciences: a core of 12-15 units including GEOS 600, GEOS 601, GEOS 640, GEOS 660, a 400/500/600-level course in biological science or chemistry and GEOS 630 or GEOS 650. Substitutions for required courses must be taken at Chico and must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator. 9-17 units of course work selected from areas such as mathematics, plant science, chemistry, geosciences, geography, political science, engineering, or biological sciences. Selection must be approved by the graduate advisory committee and the Graduate Coordinator. 1-6 units of BIOL 699T or GEOS 699T. At least one unit of Master's Thesis (699) is required.
    2. At least 18 of the units required for the degree must be 600-level courses.
    3. Not more than 15 units taken before admission to classified status.
    4. At least 9 units completed after advancement to candidacy.
    5. Not more than 10 units of Independent Study (697) and Master's Thesis (699T); not more than 6 units of Master's Thesis (699T).
    6. No courses lower than 400-level can be credited toward a M.S.
  2. Completion and final approval of an independent research project resulting in an acceptable thesis as specified by the student's Graduate Advisory Committee.
  3. Satisfactory completion of an oral defense of the thesis as specified by the student's Graduate Advisory Committee.

Specific Requirements for the MS in Environmental Science Professional Science Master's Option: 36 units

Completion of all requirements as established by the graduate advisory committee and the Office of Graduate Studies to include the following: 

  1. Completion of an approved program consisting of 36 units of 400/500/600-level course work as follows:
    1. The core of 24 units as chosen from the list in the current Course Catalog.
    2. Substitutions for required courses must be approved by the PSM Graduate Coordinator.
  2. At least 60 percent of the units required for the degree must be in 600-level courses.
  3. Not more than a total of 10 units of Independent Study (597/697) and Master's Project (699P); at least 2, but no more than 6, units of Master's Project (699P).

Completion and final approval of a professional internship and project as specified by the student's graduate advisory committee.

Graduate Requirement in Writing Proficiency

Writing proficiency is a graduation requirement. Geological and Environmental Sciences MS students will demonstrate their writing competence through satisfactory completion of GEOS 600 and 601.

Graduate Grading Requirements

All courses in the major (with the exceptions of Independent Study - 697, Master's Project - 699P, and Master's Thesis - 699T) must be taken for a letter grade, except those courses specified by the department as ABC/No Credit (400/500-level courses), AB/No Credit (600-level courses), or Credit/No Credit grading only. A maximum of 10 units combined of ABC/No Credit, AB/No Credit, and Credit/No Credit grades may be used on the approved program (including 697, 699P, 699T and courses outside the major). While grading standards are determined by individual programs and instructors, it is also the policy of the University that unsatisfactory grades may be given when work fails to reflect achievement of the high standards, including high writing standards, expected of students pursuing graduate study.

Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average in each of the following three categories: all coursework taken at any accredited institution subsequent to admission to the master's program; all course work taken at CSU, Chico subsequent to admission to the program; and all courses on the approved master's degree program.

All requirements for the degree are to be completed within five years of the end of the semester of enrollment in the first course applied toward the degree. See "Graduate Education" in the University Catalog for complete details on general degree requirements.

Graduate Advising Requirement

Advising by the faculty mentor is mandatory each semester for Geosciences and Environmental Sciences M.S. students. Consult the Graduate Coordinator for specifics.