Earth and Environmental Sciences
Master of Science
The Department offers graduate courses and research programs leading to the M.S. degree in Geology or Geophysics. Students are encouraged to obtain broad backgrounds by taking courses in geology, geophysics, and environmental geosciences along with the other sciences and mathematics. Multidisciplinary preparation is particularly useful for students seeking future employment in industry, government or the private sector.
The Department, with approximately 20 graduate students in residence, is housed in Devlin Hall and has additional research facilities at Weston Observatory. Students enjoy close working relationships with faculty while being able to undertake research using the most modern scientific equipment available. The program stresses a strong background in the earth sciences, as well as the ability to carry out research. It prepares students for successful careers as geoscientists in the environmental and engineering industries, oil and gas exploration or government service, teaching, or for continued studies toward a Ph.D. A particularly beneficial aspect of the M.S. program is the opportunity for students to integrate studies in geology, geophysics, and environmental subjects.
Research in the Department covers a broad range of topics, including: coastal and estuarine processes, sediment transport, earthquake and exploration seismology, geomorphology, structural geology and tectonics, isotope geochemistry and geochronology, global change geochemistry, groundwater hydrology, sedimentology, biogeochemistry, and environmental geology and geophysics.
The Department offers financial aid in the form of Teaching and Research Assistantships.
A summary of the requirements and additional information for graduate students can be found in the Graduate Student Regulations and Procedures Handbook (updated annually) on the department website.
Applicants to the Master of Science degree program generally fall into one of the following categories: (1) students well-prepared in geology or geophysics with courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and/or biology who are interested in broadening their experience at the M.S. degree level before employment or doctoral studies elsewhere; (2) students well-prepared in mathematics or one of the natural sciences other than geology or geophysics and who wish to use the M.S. degree program to transfer into the earth sciences.
In addition to the normal application forms, applicants should submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement of the strengths and weaknesses of their undergraduate education (including course and non-course experience), and their graduate study interests and current post-degree plans. Graduate Record Exam (general) scores are required. Applications from those applying for financial aid and assistantships for September should be completed by January 10, our recommended application target date. Later applications will be considered for financial aid if funding is available. Such applications may be made at any time, but, to be assured of consideration for September admission, they should be received by May 1.
M.S. Degree Requirements
No fixed curriculum is prescribed for the M.S. degree. Instead, a course and research program that is consistent with the student’s background and professional objectives are developed by the student and his or her faculty advisory committee. The graduate program assumes a basic undergraduate foundation in the geosciences. Students lacking such a background may be required to complete certain subjects at the undergraduate level before or during their graduate program. Master’s candidates in either Geology or Geophysics must complete or have completed two-semester (or equivalent) courses in physics or chemistry, and a two-semester, college-level calculus course.
A minimum of ten graduate-level courses, (numbered 3000 or above), approved by the student’s faculty advisory committee, must be completed in addition to a research thesis for graduation. Graduate level multidisciplinary Earth Systems Seminars are offered annually by the Department on different topics. Beginning graduate students are required to take the Earth Systems Seminar. A maximum of two thesis courses (EESC8801) are allowed for M.S. thesis credit. Normally, no more than one Reading and Research course (EESC7798 or EESC7799) may be applied toward the minimum course requirement. All students are required to maintain at least a 3.0 average in their graduate courses, as well as in all undergraduate courses in the other sciences and mathematics. Passing a comprehensive oral examination is required of each student. A research thesis approved by two faculty members is also required of all M.S. students.
Dual Degree Program (M.S.-M.B.A.)
In conjunction with the Carroll Graduate School of Management at Boston College, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences offers interested students the opportunity to participate in the combined M.S.-M.B.A. degree program. Completion of this program leads to the awarding of both degrees. This program is excellent preparation for careers in industrial or financial geoscience management, including areas such as the environmental and petroleum industries, natural hazard assessment, and natural resource evaluation and investment.
The combined M.S.-M.B.A. program normally takes three years for students with a good science background as an undergraduate— about one year less than pursuing these two degrees independently. Students in this program commonly take their first year entirely within the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. During the first summer, the student is expected to begin work on a research M.S. thesis that may be combined with an off-campus internship. The second year of the program is taken at the Carroll Graduate School of Management and the third year is split between both programs. Corporate internships are encouraged.
In applying to the program, students have two options. The first and most desirable option is for the student to apply directly to, and be accepted by, both the Graduate School of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences and the Carroll Graduate School of Management at the time of their initial application to Boston College. The GRE is required and GMAT tests may be requested. Students may contact the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences for information and application materials to both programs (indicate that you are interested in the Dual Degree Program). The deadline for admission to the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences is January 10 for consideration for financial aid and assistantships, the same as the deadline for M.S. candidates. Applications to the Carroll Graduate School of Management are accepted on a rolling basis.
The second option is for students to apply and be accepted to the M.S. program in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. During the spring of their first year, after consultation with their academic advisor, the student may then choose to apply to the Carroll Graduate School of Management for admission into the dual degree M.S.-M.B.A. program.
Further information on this program and application materials may be obtained from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, 617-552-3640, or from Graduate Admissions, Carroll Graduate School of Management, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, 617-552-3920.
Master of Science in Teaching
The Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) program is administered through the Lynch School of Education in cooperation with the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. It requires admission to both the Lynch School of Education and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. This program, which is designed for prospective teachers, acknowledges variations in prior background and skills.
M.S.T. Degree Requirements
The five required courses in the earth sciences include Exploring the Earth and Earth Materials, and the following: (1) No more than four credits from Weather, Climate, and the Environment, Oceanography, or Astronomy; and (2) Eight credits from Petrology, Structural Geology or Advanced Structural Geology, Environmental Geology, Environmental Chemistry, Introduction to Geophysics or graduate courses (numbered 3000 or above). Students who have previously taken these courses may substitute other graduate courses within the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, with approval. One semester of full-time residency may be necessary. A comprehensive examination is given to each student at the end of the program. This examination is in two parts—one part is oral in the earth sciences, and the other part is given by the Lynch School of Education.
The Department is part of a cooperative program with the Department of Earth Sciences at nearby Boston University, as well as the Civil Engineering Department at Tufts University. This program permits degree candidates at Boston College to enroll in courses that are unavailable at Boston College but are available at Boston University or Tufts.
Weston Observatory is a geophysical research and science education center of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Boston College. It is located in Weston, Massachusetts about 10 miles west of BC’s Chestnut Hill campus. The Observatory, which has been recording earthquakes since the 1930s, conducts basic research on earthquakes and related processes, provides public information after significant earthquakes occur, contributes to earthquake awareness to help reduce the tragic effects of earthquakes, and educates future generations of geophysicists, geologists, environmental geoscientists and scientifically literate citizens. Seismic monitoring at Weston Observatory is part of a consortium of institutions that operate networks of seismographs throughout the Northeast United States and around the world. The facilities at Weston Observatory offer students a unique opportunity to work on research projects in geophysics and related research areas. For more information, visit the Observatory website: www.bc.edu/westonobservatory.