Master of Arts in Earth and Planetary Sciences          

Dennis Dawson, Graduate Coordinator 
Phone: (203) 837-8671

Dept. Secretary

Phone: (203) 837-8669
  Fax: (203) 837-8595

Earth and Planetary Sciences Overview

The Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Meteorology offers a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences. Students have the opportunity for advanced course work in physics, meteorology, astronomy, oceanography and geology. In addition, for their capstone experience, students have the option of either performing independent thesis research or, for those who are teachers, completing two education courses and passing a comprehensive examination. 

Students also may choose to concentrate in meteorology/climatology or astronomy/astrophysics.

Program Mission, Goals and Objectives

The mission of the M.A. in Earth & Planetary Sciences program is to provide students with the scientific knowledge and technical skills to: (1) pursue careers in meteorology, astronomy, oceanography or geology either in the private sector or in government; (2) enhance knowledge in support of a career in secondary education; or (3) allow students to continue with additional studies leading to a Ph.D. in atmospheric science, astronomy, oceanography or geology. 

The goals and objectives include:

  • Imparting an in-depth understanding of the factual and theoretical bases of the various disciplines in earth and planetary sciences;
  • Promoting scientifically-based critical thinking with regard to current issues in the earth and planetary sciences;
  • Familiarizing students with the application of technology and of scientific methods through astronomical observations, weather analysis and forecasting as well as data collection for meteorological, oceanic and geological applications via remote sensing and in-situ platforms;
  • Promoting an understanding of the scientific process and having students apply it to designing and analyzing experiments in support of independent research; and
  • Promoting effective communication of scientific concepts in both oral and written format.

Admission Requirements

For admission to the M.A. program, a student must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a combined undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5 and:

  1. A minimum of 45 semester hours in the sciences and mathematics, including 6 – 8 semester hours in three of the following disciplines: astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer sciences, earth sciences, geology, mathematics, meteorology, oceanography and physics. Deficiencies may be rectified by taking undergraduate courses while taking graduate course work; or
  2. Students must receive written permission from the Physics, Astronomy and Meteorology Department graduate committee.

If the cumulative undergraduate GPA is below 2.5, the applicant may submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (the general plus one advanced in mathematics or physics) in support of his or her application.  In that case, both the undergraduate record and GRE scores will be taken into consideration for admission into the program.

Degree Requirements

Requirements for the degree of M.A. in Earth and Planetary Sciences include:

  1. Cumulative GPA or 3.0 or better;
  2. A minimum of 24 semester hours of course work; and
  3. Capstone experience:
    1. Six semester hours of independent thesis research. The thesis must be approved by the graduate committee and the graduate program coordinator and the director of university admissions.

      Thesis students must also pass a thesis defense, or

    2. Six semester hours of education (ED 500 and another ED 500-level course #) for students who meet the admissions requirements of the education department. All non-thesis students must pass a comprehensive examination. 

Acceptable 500-level ED courses include:

  • ED 530 Curriculum of the Secondary School
  • ED 532 Computer Literacy in Education
  • ED 556 Curriculum Development using the Internet

Master of Arts in Earth and Planetary Sciences

I. Earth and Planetary Science Core Requirements 12 SH
PHY 510 Thermodynamics 3 SH
PHY 520 Scientific Methods 3 SH
PHY 550 Special Topics in Earth and Planetary Sciences 2-3 SH
PHY 590 Seminar in Earth and Planetary Sciences 3 SH

Note: PHY 550 is offered only during summer sessions; students may elect two credits or three credits with an additional assignment. If two credits are taken, then a four-credit PHY 598 or 599 course may be used to fulfill degree requirements.

II. Earth and Planetary Sciences Courses  12 SH
EPS 510* Physical Oceanography 3 SH
EPS 521* Meteorology & Weather Systems 3 SH
EPS 530* Planetary Physics 3 SH
EPS 540* Physical Geology 3 SH

*Three of these four courses must be taken. Students may substitute one course with PHY 598 or PHY 599 after receiving written permission from the graduate committee. PHY 598 or PHY 599 allow students to concentrate their studies in either Meteorology/Climatology or Astronomy/Astrophysics.


III. Thesis or Education Course Requirements 6 SH
EPS 592 Independent Thesis Research in Earth and Planetary Sciences 6 SH
Thesis Defense Or ED 500    Contemporary Educational Issues 3 SH
ED 5__#  ___________________________ 3 SH
Final Comprehensive Examination  
#Acceptable 500-level ED courses include ED 530, ED 532 and ED 556
Suggested Special Topics Courses and Thesis Topics for Students Concentrating in Meteorology/Climatology Concentration
* Air Pollution & Boundary Layer Meteorology
* Climate, Atmospheric Radiation & the Earth’s Energy Balance
* Earth Dynamics: Air-Sea-Land Interaction
Suggested Special Topics Courses and Thesis Topics for Students Concentrating in Astronomy/Astrophysics Concentration
* Solar-Terrestrial Connections
* Planetary Remote Sensing
* Solar System Dynamics



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