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Masters Degree Requirements


24 graded classroom credits Optional: up to 15 credits in related sciences (with advisor approval)
9 credits at 600-699 level May be taken graded or pass/no pass, but graded courses would apply to 24 credits above.
9 thesis credits GEOL 503, minimum of 3 credits must be taken in last term.
remaining credits Can include research, readings, and seminars; Required: 1 credit of GEOL 507 each term
45 credits total

A master’s degree candidate has to earn a minimum of 45 credits at the graduate level and complete a thesis approved by his/her thesis committee. Of the 45 credits, 24 credits must be earned in graded classroom courses. 9 credits must be in courses numbered 600-699, which may be graded or pass/no pass. You are urged to take “real” courses when offered if they are appropriate for your subdiscipline, but these 600 level credits may also be earned through, for example, 601 Research, 605 Reading and Conference, 607 Seminar. You may NOT register for 603, which is reserved for doctoral students. Up to 15 credits may, with the approval of the graduate advisor, be taken in related sciences. As part of the total credits for the degree, 9 credits of Thesis (GEOL 503) are required. The remaining credits may include independent work, such as reading and research, and/or the departmental seminar. The seminar, in which outside speakers, faculty, or graduate students speak on some topic of general interest, is held once weekly in fall, winter, and spring terms. All students are required to register for one hour of seminar (GEOL 507) credit each term. Students may transfer up to 6 hours of graduate work from another institution. A form must be filed with the Graduate School requesting transfer of these credits.

Graduate students are expected to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better in their course work, and a grade of D will not be counted toward fulfilling the 30 hour requirement for Master’s degree students. If a student’s GPA falls below 3.0 or they fail to show satisfactory progress toward completion of their degree, they are subject to disqualification. Incompletes (grade = I) must be converted into passing grades within one calendar year of the assignment of the Incomplete. Students may request added time for the removal of the I by submitting a petition, signed by the instructor, to the Dean of the Graduate School for approval. This time limit does not apply to Incompletes in Research or Thesis.

In departments that require a thesis, such as the Department of Geological Sciences, at least 33 credit hours over a minimum of 2 terms must be taken on the Eugene campus. Students must complete all work for the master’s degree within 7 years, including transferred credit, thesis, and all examinations. Graduate students must attend the University continuously, except for summers, until all of the program requirements have been completed, unless on-leave status (maximum time of one calendar year) has been approved. In the term in which the degree is received, all graduate students must register for at least 3 graduate credits.

Graduate students at the university may, with adviser and departmental approval, take graduate courses at any of the other institutions in the Oregon University System. A student registers for these courses with the University of Oregon registrar, who records each grade on the academic record under Joint-Campus Course (JC 610). The student must be a matriculated UO graduate student in an advanced degree program and registered for UO courses the same term the JC 610 course is taken. A maximum of 15 JC credits may be applied toward a graduate degree program. Forms are available from Vicki.


1. Decide on your thesis project and write a thesis proposal.
2. Form your thesis committee (requires department head’s approval).
3. Submit the thesis proposal to your committee for approval. Submit one copy of the approved proposal to Vicki for your file.
4. Perform your thesis research while taking thesis credits (GEOL 503) and write the complete thesis draft.
5. Apply for the degree with the Graduate School early in your final term.
6. Submit the thesis draft to your committee and allow them at least 2 weeks to read the draft.
7. Once the draft is approved, schedule the oral defense at least 2 weeks later.
8. Hold the defense.
9. Once the thesis is successfully defended, turn in 2 final copies of thesis and 3 copies of the abstract to the Graduate School and pay fees.
10. Leave a collection of your thesis materials with the department.

Committee: The student should choose a thesis committee by the end of their fourth term of residence. A thesis committee consists of 3 members, at least 2 of whom are from the Department of Geological Sciences. The makeup of the thesis committee must be approved by the department head, who also appoints the coordinator of the committee. Although the student’s principal research advisor is part of the committee, he/she will not be the coordinator.

The responsibility of this committee is to: (1) evaluate and approve the student’s thesis proposal, (2) provide academic advice and monitor student progress toward completion of the degree, (3) provide feedback and advice to the student concerning the student’s research project, and (4) read the thesis draft, (5) examine the student at his/her thesis defense, and (6) read and approve the final thesis. The thesis committee must meet with the student at least 2 times each year, during fall and spring terms. It is the responsibility of the student and the committee coordinator to ensure that these meetings are held. After each meeting, the coordinator of the committee will prepare the minutes, give one copy to the student, and put another copy in the student’s file.

Proposal: The student must submit a thesis proposal to his/her thesis committee for approval as soon as possible after the committee is formed. No formal credit or recognition for thesis work will be given until the thesis proposal has been circulated to each member of the thesis committee for review. After the thesis proposal has been distributed, the committee will meet to: (1) approve or request revision of the research proposal, (2) ensure that the student has obtained, or is in the process of obtaining, the academic background needed to complete the work, and (3) help the student make plans for completing the project. The student should submit a copy of the approved proposal for inclusion in their file.

Credits: Registration for a minimum of 9 credit hours of Thesis (GEOL 503) is required by the Graduate School. A student may earn as many as l5 hours of thesis credit, but only 9 will apply towards the 45 hours required for the degree. The Graduate School expects that the student will register for thesis credits during their last 2 terms before completion of the degree. The grade given for GEOL 503 will be an incomplete (I) until the thesis is completed and approved by the Graduate School.

Degree Application: Early in the term in which the student plans to graduate, he/she must apply for the degree online. Be sure to check the deadline schedule online.

Defense: A complete draft of the thesis must be circulated to thesis committee members at least 4 weeks before the thesis defense is held (the draft includes text, figures, tables, references, etc.). Committee members are allowed 2 weeks to read the thesis before they are required to give approval (or disapproval) to schedule the defense, and the defense cannot be scheduled until 2 weeks after the committee gives approval. During this public defense (or “final oral examination”), the student will present the major ideas, findings, and results of their research, and be subject to questioning by members of their committee and the general public.

Final Product: When the student has successfully defended his/her thesis, he/she is required to submit 2 final copies of the thesis to the Graduate School, along with 3 copies of an abstract (150 word maximum). Copies of the thesis will not be accepted unless they meet Graduate School standards of form and style. The student should refer to the Graduate School “Thesis and Dissertation Manual & Writing Resources” web page that defines these standards. The Graduate School allows published papers to be submitted in lieu of the standard thesis; however, these papers may need to be retyped into the standard Graduate School style. To avoid potential problems, students are cautioned to first check with the Graduate School before adopting this approach. The university archives retains copies of all theses on microfilm. Microfilming will be done at the university library for which there is a fee of $6 or $50 (depending on which method is chosen) and $35 additional if the thesis is copyrighted.

Storage of Thesis Materials: Students who complete a master’s thesis are expected to prepare a representative collection of rocks, thin sections, etc., to be permanently kept by the department. Arrangements for preparing and storing these materials should be made with the faculty advisor as part of the final requirements for the degree. (See Vicki for further information.)

Oral Presentations

Give a seminar or meeting talk or poster at least once every 2 years; more often is preferred. Presentations for classes are not counted toward this requirement.

In order to give graduate students more experience speaking in front of large, formal audiences, every graduate student is required to give a scientific presentation at least once during each 2-year period of residency in the department. Oral or poster presentations at scientific meetings (e.g., AGU, GSA, AAPG, etc.) are encouraged as a means of meeting the requirement. If such a talk or poster is given, documentation (e.g., the published abstract) must be provided to the department office manager. Alternatively, student seminars may be presented during a Wednesday seminar time slot if space is available in the schedule. Otherwise, students may present their seminar at different time. Such a presentation must be scheduled and advertised a minimum of one week in advance and will meet the requirement only if at least 3 faculty are able to attend. Lunchtime slots, when informal seminar series may already be scheduled (e.g., soft rock seminar series), may be appropriate. Students who are judged by the faculty to have presented an unsatisfactory seminar will be advised how the seminar can be improved and will be required to give another (satisfactory) seminar soon after.


  • Guidance committee – 3 Geological Sciences faculty appointed by department head
  • Thesis committee – 3 faculty (at least 2 from Geological Sciences) chosen by the student, approved by the department chair; assembled once your thesis topic is chosen.

Guidance Committee

A guidance committee of 3 faculty members will be assigned to each incoming student to (1) provide initial academic advising on coursework, requirements, and thesis topics and (2) document student progress until that student chooses a thesis committee. At least one member of the guidance committee will be someone in the student’s research field, and the committee coordinator shall be someone who is unlikely to serve as thesis advisor for the student. It is mandatory that faculty committee members attend guidance committee meetings or arrange for a substitute faculty member with the same general academic specialty.

The guidance committee is to meet with the student at least once shortly after the student arrives on campus and before he/she registers. At this first meeting, the committee will examine the student’s academic record, try to identify and point out gaps in the student’s preparation or potential difficulties with departmental requirements and regulations, and plan jointly with the student his/her first term’s work. If the student appears to be well prepared and reasonably knowledgeable about his or her aims, further meetings of the student with the guidance committee may be scheduled infrequently. In any case, at least one committee meeting must be held each academic year to provide advice to the student and to examine his or her progress. Usually, this meeting will be held near the end of spring term. After a committee meeting is held, the coordinator will write up the minutes and make a copy for the student and the student’s file. At least once a year, the coordinator of the guidance committee presents a report to the faculty of the department, outlining the student’s progress.

M.S. students are expected to choose a thesis topic and form their thesis committee by the end of their fourth term in residence. Once this has been accomplished, the thesis committee will take over all advising functions for the student, and the student’s guidance committee ceases to exist.