M.S. Geological Sciences

About the Program: Objectives and Description

Central Washington University offers a Masters program in Geological Sciences 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 active and regional tectonics, structural geology, and geodynamics; climate change, paleoflood studies, and environmental geochemistry; geochronology, petrology, and volcanology; and seismic risk and GPS geodesy.

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

Program's Student Outcomes

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

  • Critically read and interpret published scientific literature as a basis for a research project.
  • Design and implement an original research project that develops multiple hypotheses, predictions from hypotheses, data gathering strategy, and data analysis, and utilizes the published scientific literature.
  • Report the results of original research using standard geoscience formats and conventions.
  • Present research results, both orally and in writing.
  • Know and practice scientific ethics.
  • Evaluate uncertainties with respect to observations and measurements.
  • Demonstrate working knowledge of standard geologic reference tools and resources.
  • Develop an in-depth knowledge in their area of specialization.
  • Gain experience in teaching geosciences in the classroom or field.

Admission Requirements, Application, and Program Requirements

The application deadline for fall term is February 1.Additional details about admission requirements, supporting materials, and program requirements are described in the CWU Online Catalog.

Application for admission is available at Central Washington University's Office of Graduate Studies and Research. If you wish to be considered for a teaching or research assistantship, you MUST ALSO fill out the Graduate Assistantship section of the application.

Contact Graduate Studies at (509) 963-3101 or masters@cwu.edu with questions about the application process.

Areas and Electives in Specialization

Course requirements are tailored to the individual student's academic background, professional goals, and research interests through advising from the graduate faculty and thesis committee chair. The greatest departmental strengths are field-based studies in active and regional tectonics; continental dynamics, GPS geodesy, and seismology; climate change, environmental geochemistry, and geomorphology; and petrology and volcanology. Research projects have been completed around the globe including Antartica, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Italy, Tibet, and the western US.

Central Washington University lies on the Columbia River Basalt plateau, adjacent to the crystalline core and majestic volcanoes of the Cascade Mountains. Seismicity and active volcanism of the Cascadia subduction zone, highly deformed rocks of northern Washington and British Columbia, and a water- and natural-resource based economy in central Washington provide ideal opportunities to study a wide variety of geologic problems.

Opportunities for Support

The Department of Geological Sciences offers both teaching and grant-supported research assistantships. The teaching assistantships are allocated through the Office of Graduate Studies and Research and require an incoming or graduate GPA of 3.0. In addition to designated departmental assistantships, university-wide TA's are allocated to qualified minority candidates. Research assistantships will usually be granted to second year students who are working on projects supported by external grants to Geological Sciences faculty. As part of the regular graduate school application, you MUST complete Graduate Assistantship section of the application. Second year students must reapply for support using the Assistantship Application to be considered for support for their second year.

Persons of disability may make arrangements for reasonable accommodations and printed material in alternative format by calling 509-963-2701 or by leaving a message on TDD 509-963-3323. Central Washington University is an AA/EEO/Title IX Institution.

Central Washington University
Department of Geological Sciences
400 E. 8th Avenue
Ellensburg, WA 98926-7418
509-963-2701
FAX 509-963-2821