College of Science & Engineering

MS Geology Program

Program Description and Goals - Masters of Science GeologyA group of students pose on a beach near large pieces of driftwood

Western Washington University offers a Masters program in Geology that aims to prepare students for professional employment in geoscience careers in the Pacific Northwest and beyond or for continuing graduate studies at the doctoral level. We specialize in structure/tectonics, petrology, volcanology, geomorphology, geophysics, hydrogeology and environmental/engineering geology, geothermal energy, sedimentology, planetary geology, and geoscience education.

This program normally leads to employment in consulting firms; in local, state, or federal government resource-based or planning agencies; and in teaching at community colleges or at a secondary level. The degree also serves as a foundation for graduate studies beyond the M.S. level, and for those interested in pursuing related careers, such as environmental law, natural resource management, or policy. The Department encourages an integrative, multi-disciplinary approach.

The M.S. program produces professional geoscientists with the ability to conduct original and meaningful scientific research. Graduates possess a broad grounding in geosciences and sophistication in their area of concentration.


Students with a bachelor's degree and who meet the requirements of the Graduate School are invited to apply for admission to the graduate program in geology. Students with a BS/BA degree in geology, which includes a recognized geology field course, generally will be offered full admittance into the program provided they have the appropriate math, chemistry, and physics background. Prerequisite course work may be necessary, depending on the applicant's chosen field of study. Applicants without a BS/BA degree in geology will need to take a minimum of 19 quarter credits, including physical geology, historical geology, stratigraphy/sedimentology, mineralogy, petrology, geomorphology, structural geology, geophysics, and a recognized geology field camp, up to a maximum of 42 geology credits, which may include additional prerequisites in chemistry, physics and math, depending on each individual situation. Students who have not completed these courses before entering the geology MS program must do so and maintain an average of B or better in prerequisite courses before being advanced to candidacy. Courses taken to make up these deficiencies are not counted toward the MS degree.

Application Information

Specific Test Requirements: The Geology Department has explicitly decided to remove the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) from our requirements for application. We recognize the implicit bias in these tests and understand that there are better metrics for predicting success in graduate school that include a holistic look at undergraduate performance, letters of recommendation, and relevant experience.

Tips for a successful application: Master's students at Western are accepted to work with a specific faculty member. Students are supported via research or teaching assistantships. As such, applicants are encouraged to contact prospective advisors to discuss funding and available projects

For more general tips on applying to graduate school, here is a link to a webinar given by Dr. Jackie Caplan Auerbach, “How to Apply to Graduate School”:

Deadline: The geology department prefers to admit students to enter in fall quarter. Admittance to the program also will depend on the availability of an advisor in the student's area of interest.

TA Deadlines: To be considered for a teaching assistantship, application and supporting materials must be on file by January 15.

Supporting Materials:

  • A statement of the student's background and purpose
  • Reference letters
  • Official transcripts

For more specific information on courses and requirements please see the university catalog.

For graduate admissions information please see WWU Graduate School website.