MS Degree

The MS degree program trains students equally for professional practice and continued graduate study. The typical course of study takes two years to complete.


UWM’s Graduate School lists the minimum eligibility requirements including undergraduate GPA and English language proficiency on its website:

Please note that these are minimum requirements. Our graduate programs have become very popular, so acceptance is on a competitive process based on the pool of applicants to the Geosciences Department. Meeting the minimum eligibility requirements does not guarantee your acceptance into our program.

We do not have a required set of prior coursework for admission. However, most students admitted to our program have BS degrees in Geosciences or closely related disciplines. Their undergraduate preparation includes broad training in geosciences including field training and one year each of college chemistry, physics, and calculus.  Most have a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0, with average above 3.5 (4.0 scale).

Please see the Application Procedures page for further information:

Major Professor as Advisor

The student must have a major professor to advise and supervise the student’s studies and research. Students are encouraged to contact potential research advisors prior to their application and request a specific advisor(s) on their application Reasons Statement. Based on specialized research interests, the student is assigned an advisor at the time of initial enrollment. Advisors may be changed at any time with the approval of the Graduate Director and the new advisor.

Credits and Courses

A minimum of 30 graduate credits is required. At least 24 credits must be earned in formal course credits representing at least 8 courses. Up to 6 of the 30 credits may be earned through an acceptable thesis (through registered thesis credits – Geo Sci 990).
All students in their second or later year are required to present a progress report annually to the Department.

Proposal for Thesis

Prior to the formal undertaking of thesis research, the student must prepare a written proposal for the thesis problem including a timeline and estimate of costs to be incurred. The proposal must be approved by the faculty advisor and subsequently submitted to the Geosciences Office for distribution to the Department faculty for comment and criticism. Students are encouraged to seek detailed input from their Thesis Committee members (to be determined by their research advisor).


The student must write an acceptable thesis embodying the results of original research completed under the direction of the advisor. The student must defend the thesis and receive approval by the Thesis Committee.  The Thesis Committee consists of the faculty advisor and two other individuals (usually two other UWM faculty members, but may be faculty members from other institutions).  The faculty advisor must approve the members of the thesis committee.

The student will present their research results in a public thesis presentation that must be advertised within the department at least one week in advance. The student is responsible for scheduling the thesis presentation and defense.  Immediately after the presentation, the thesis must be orally defended before the entire Thesis Committee. The defense may include questions related to the conducted research and any of the student’s fields of study. If the thesis is defended and the oral examination is passed to the satisfaction of a majority of the Thesis Committee, the candidate is passed and recommended for the degree.


The typical timeline for completion of a MS degree is 4 semesters for funded, full-time students. All students must complete all degree requirements within five years of initial enrollment.

Graduate Grievance Procedures

Federal law and UWM policy require programs and departments to have procedures for graduate students to appeal academic decisions such as grades or scholastic standing. These procedures ensure the protection of students’ rights. UWM Graduate School Academic Appeal Procedures can be found here:

For more information, please consult the Geosciences Graduate Student Handbook or contact the Graduate Committee Chair.


Julie Bowles
Lapham Hall 358
(414) 229-6110