Department of Earth SciencesWestern Science

Course & Degree Requirements

The course requirements for graduate degrees in Earth Sciences are as follows:

M.Sc.: Four half-courses (2.0 courses) including Geology or Geophysics 9580A/B.

Course-Based M.Sc.: Seven half-courses (3.5 courses) which must include Geology or Geophysics 9580A/B and a field course (must be Geophysics 9509A for geophysics students, course varies for geology students). In addition to the seven half-courses, students in the Course-Based M.Sc. must complete the summer research project Geology or Geophysics 9590.

Ph.D. with outside M.Sc.: Two half-courses (1.0 course) including Geology or Geophysics 9680A/B.

Ph.D. with Western Geology or Geophysics M.Sc.: Two half-courses (1.0 course) excluding Geology or Geophysics 9680A/B.

Ph.D. upgraded from M.Sc.: Five half-courses (2.5 courses) including Geology or Geophysics 9580A or 9680A.

Ph.D. students also must complete an oral qualifying exam, usually within the first eighteen months of the program. Upon passing the qualifying exam, the Ph.D. student becomes a Candidate for the Ph.D. degree. If the qualifying exam is failed, the student is permitted to re-take the exam within a time period not to exceed six months from the first attempt. If the second attempt at a qualifying exam is failed, the student will be either downgraded to the M.Sc. program, or required to withdraw.

All students are also required to complete an Annual Progress Report on or by the anniversary of their program start date. all graduate students must have at least one full advisory committee meeting per year (more can be called if required) where all Advisory Committee members are present/represented, unless the defense is anticipated in the anniversary term, or the Ph.D. qualifying exam was successfully completed within the past year or is expected within the next four months following the anniversary date.

At least 50% of your coursework must be completed in your primary discipline (i.e. geology or geophysics), but students may take courses outside your home program as long as the course material is relevant to your research. Students in the Department of Earth Sciences occasionally take graduate courses in the Departments of Geography, Physics & Astronomy, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science and Biology.

Students enrolled in the Planetary Science or Environment & Sustainability collaborative programs should be aware that those programs entail additional requirements in addition to their degree requirements in Geology or Geophysics. Consult with your collaborative program administrator if you have questions.

Course Audits: Students may audit courses at the graduate level. The student must have the instructor’s signed approval to audit the course, as well as approval from the Supervisor (if applicable) and Graduate Chair. An audit requires regular attendance and any other obligations as stated by the course instructor in the Comments/Expectations section of the Graduate Course Audit Form. If these requirements are not met, the audit will be removed from the student’s record at the instructor’s request. The Graduate Course Audit form should be used to register.

Undergraduate Courses: Graduate Students may take undergraduate courses with the approval of the course instructor, the student’s supervisor (if applicable), the Graduate Chair, and the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. If the course is required for the graduate degree, there will be no additional charge. If it is not required for the degree, the graduate student will be charged, per undergraduate course. Graduate students taking undergraduate courses must follow the undergraduate regulations, as stipulated in the undergraduate calendar under “add/drop deadlines." Grades in undergraduate courses count towards your degree average. Failure of an undergraduate course may result in withdrawal of funding or being withdrawn from your graduate program.

To take undergraduate courses, students must use the "Add/Drop/Audit Undergraduate Course" form. Some students may be asked by their supervisor to take an undergraduate course in addition to their graduate requirements to enhance training.  Undergraduate courses do not count towards the requirements of a graduate degree unless special permission has been granted by the graduate chair.  Undergraduate courses or combined courses in which undergraduate students predominate must be less than one-third of the student's total course requirement for the graduate degree.