Background Required of Entering Students

The coursework background of all incoming graduate students is evaluated at the time of admission. If deficiencies are deemed to exist in some areas, admission may be contingent upon completion of background courses. After arrival the coursework background of each incoming graduate student will be reviewed by the student’s advisor to determine whether background deficiencies exist for his/her planned program of study. A student whose background is deemed deficient will, in consultation with his/her faculty advisor, determine which courses shall be taken to alleviate the deficiencies. Background deficiencies will normally be made up in the first year of graduate study. Some remedial coursework may not count toward graduate credit.



Each incoming graduate student will be assigned an advisor from the faculty of the Department by the Graduate Committee. The assignment will be based on the background and interests of the student. The advisor may be changed with the approval of the Graduate Committee. The student should meet with his/her advisor before registration for the first semester of study in order to outline an initial program of studies for the M.S. Degree. Additional meetings with the advisor should take place before registering for subsequent semesters, and from time to time, to review and update this program and discuss the student’s progress.

The Graduate School requires that each student file an official Program of Study with the Office of Graduate Studies before he/she can receive a degree. Normally this document is submitted during the second semester, subject to later revisions as conditions necessitate.


Graduate Committee Progress Reports

In addition to the regular continuous contact the student has with his/her advisor, the Graduate Committee will send a report to the student at the end of each fall semester to discuss his/her progress. These progress reports will be based on coursework performance and Graduate Committee discussions with the faculty advisor.


Course Work Requirements

The student must satisfy the University requirements stipulated in the University Bulletin as well as the Departmental requirements described below. A minimum of 30 hours of credit beyond the Bachelor’s degree is required for the M.S., of which at least 1 year must be in full-time residence at C.W.R.U. This year must be in residence at C.W.R.U. Full-time graduate study consists of 12 semester hours, or 9 to 10 semester hours where the student has contractual assistantship obligations to the Department. It is a University requirement that the M.S. be completed within 5 consecutive calendar years.

Every graduate student must register once for EEPS 509, a one-credit course. As part of EEPS 509 the student will present his/her thesis prospectus or a talk about some research problem in the Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences about which he/she has been reading or which is related to findings in his/her dissertation research. The purposes of EEPS 509 are to maintain communication about research within the Department, to enhance the breadth of the student’s knowledge, and to give the student training and practice in presenting ideas orally before a group. Although the student may registration for EEPS 509 during any semester it is recommended that the student register at least one semester before his/her defense to enhance his/her skills at making a scientific presentation.

All graduate students are expected to regularly attend Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences Seminars.

The University requires that students maintain a cumulative grade-point average of at least 2.75 for all courses; the Department requires a 3.0 cumulative average for Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences courses. Courses below the 300 level may not be counted for degree credit. A maximum of 9 credit hours at the 300 level may be counted toward the M.S. With the approval of the Graduate Committee, a maximum of 6 hours of graduate level credit may be transferred from another University. Transfer credit will not be given for courses used for degree credit by the student elsewhere. A student will be terminated for any of the following reasons:

– A grade of F in any Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences course

– More than one grade of C or lower in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences courses

– More than one grade of F in a non-Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences course

– A grade of I that is not converted within 1 calendar year.

Any 300 level Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences course in which a grade of C or below is obtained will not be counted toward the degree requirements. No course in which a grade of D or below is earned will be counted toward the degree requirements.


Two Alternative M.S. Programs (see Bulletin of School of Graduate Studies)

 Plan A:

During the second semester, the student will present his/her thesis prospectus. This will usually be done at a EEPS 509 seminar. The seminar consists of a discussion of the project and the general field in which it lies in order to determine preparedness and capabilities of the student and practicability of the project. Two or more weeks prior to the seminar, the student must distribute to each faculty member and graduate student, and to the department office (for file), a two-page prospectus summarizing the proposed thesis research, including references. A project committee, consisting of the student’s advisor and at least two other faculty selected by the advisor, chaired by the advisor, will participate in and evaluate the seminar. The seminar will be open to the public. Normally, the seminar will last no more than one hour. Following the seminar, the student will meet with the project committee to discuss the feasibility of the study. If the project appears to be unfeasible for the student, he/she will be expected to change to Plan B, or to present a revised or new project to the committee within a period of 3 to 6 weeks.

A thesis describing original and independent research by the student is required for the M.S. degree under Plan A. In the preparation of the thesis the student will have the guidance of one or more advisors, and the thesis should be submitted with their approval. Approval of the format of the thesis must be obtained from the Graduate Office at least one month before graduation (see “Instruction for the Preparation of Thesis and Dissertations” available on request in the Office of Graduate Studies). The thesis must be orally defended before the project committee in an examination which is open to the public. The defense must be taken at least one week before the granting of the degree. In practice, a longer period of time should be allowed in order to incorporate any corrections suggested at the defense.

 Plan B:

This requires a comprehensive oral examination involving knowledge of principles of a student’s area of study. This examination is usually given in the final semester. The examination will be given by a committee consisting of the student’s advisor and at least two other faculty members selected by the advisor. The examination is open to other faculty members who may ask questions but have no vote in the grading. One question will be given to the student by the examining committee not more than seven days nor less than two days prior to the examination. This question will be conceptual in nature and will test the student’s ability to reason and find a method of solution for a particular problem. The examination will begin with a discussion of this question. >p> Unanimous vote of the committee is required to pass the examination. If 2/3 vote to recommend passing, the committee may then consider passing the student contingent upon the fulfillment of other conditions. In this case a unanimous vote is required for the stipulation of specific conditions.

If the examination is not passed, the student may retake it after successful petition to the Graduate Committee, but re-examination must be before the end of the first month of the next semester. No examinations will be given later than the last day of classes. A student who fails re-examination or is denied re-examination is terminated from the M.S. program.

For students pursuing a Ph.D., the Plan B comprehensive examination will be considered passed for those students who have passed the comprehensive examination (Part 2) or the oral proposition (Part 3) of the Ph.D. candidacy examination.


Financial Assistance

M.S. students will ordinarily not receive more than 3 semesters of financial support if on Plan B, and not more than two years on Plan A. Continued financial support is contingent upon satisfactory progress toward the degree. Students receiving financial support can expect to be assigned teaching or research duties.


Example Time Table for M.S. Degree

Before and during first 2 weeks of classes

PLAN A – Plan and submit program to advisor for approval;register for courses

PLAN B – Plan and submit program to advisor for approval; register for courses

Semester 1

PLAN A – Course work (9-12 credits);plan thesis project(0-3 credits). Participate in Dept. Seminars

PLAN B – Course work (9-12 credits); Participate in Dept. Seminars

Semester 2

PLAN A – Course work (6-12 credits);(thesis credit3-6 credits); Present project seminar (EEPS 509). File Program of Study with Graduate Studies Office

PLAN B – Course work (9-12 credits); Present EEPS 509 seminar. File Program of Study with Graduate Studies Office


PLAN A – Work on thesis

PLAN B – Study for comprehensive examination

Semester 3

PLAN A – Finish course work as necessary. Work on thesis.

PLAN B – Complete course requirements. Take comprehensive examination. Finish all requirements for graduation.

Semester 4

PLAN A – Complete and defend thesis

PLAN B – Finish all requirements for graduation.