2020-2021 Graduate Course Catalog 
    Oct 25, 2020  
2020-2021 Graduate Course Catalog

Earth Sciences, MA

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Laura K. Lautz Chair
204 Heroy Geology Laboratory,


Suzanne L. Baldwin, Tripti Bhattacharya, Marion E. Bickford, Melissa L. Chipman, Daniel Curewitz, Paul G. Fitzgerald, Gregory D. Hoke, Linda C. Ivany, Christopher Junium, Jeffrey A. Karson, Christa A. Kelleher, Laura K. Lautz, Zunli Lu, Robert Moucha, Cathryn R. Newton, Scott D. Samson, Christopher A. Scholz, Donald I. Siegel, Jay Thomas, Bruce H. Wilkinson

Graduate study in the Department of Earth Sciences offers students opportunities for field-based geological and geophysical research worldwide. Ongoing research in the Department is focused primarily in the areas of environmental geology/global change and tectonics/crustal evolution-two of the most rapidly developing areas of the earth sciences. The Department is housed in the William B. Heroy Geology Laboratory, which contains state-of-the-art analytical and computing facilities, modern well-equipped teaching spaces, and a dedicated Earth Sciences library. All of the faculty are engaged in research and teaching.

The Department typically has a combination of students pursuing either the M.S. or Ph.D. degree. Several of our faculty-led research projects are large collaborative, multi-institutional, multi-national programs that afford our graduate students opportunities to work in diverse parts of the world with teams of internationally recognized scholars. Department faculty and graduate students are currently pursuing field studies world wide.


Incoming students are expected to have two semesters of the following courses: calculus, chemistry, and physics or biology. In addition, incoming students need at least three distribution courses in the Earth Sciences, such as: paleobiology, sedimentology, mineralogy, structural geology, tectonics, geochemistry, geophysics, climatology, paleooceanography, paleoclimatology, marine geology, and/or hydrogeology. Students are strongly encouraged to have participated in an approved summer field course or comparable field experience. Substitutions may be granted upon petition of the Department.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Develop deeper knowledge than the BS or BA degree in the Earth Sciences, with multidisciplinary emphasis outside EAR

Degree Programs

The Department offers programs of graduate study leading to the M.A., M.S., and Ph.D. Minimum requirements for each degree are an average GPA of 3.0 in major subjects and an overall average of 2.8.

Students who wish to continue graduate study toward a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences following a master’s degree must submit a Syracuse University Graduate School application form, including letters of reference, to the Department.

M.A. in Earth Sciences

Thirty credits are required. At least 15 of these must be at or above the 600 level. The student is required to pass a comprehensive written examination, but no thesis is required.

Graduate Awards

Graduate students are expected to pursue their studies energetically and to complete their advanced degree work without undue delay. Financial support typically will be given to a student for four semesters at the master’s level or eight semesters in the Ph.D. program.

Graduate Scholarships Awarded to students with superior qualifications, provide, in most cases, full tuition for academic year.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships:

Offered to some Graduate Scholarship recipients; no more than an average of 20 hours of work per week; 8.5 months; stipend in addition to tuition scholarship for up to 24 credits per year as needed.

Graduate Research Assistantships:

Offered to some Graduate Scholarship recipients; no more than an average of 20 hours per week; 8.5 to 12 months; stipends variable in addition to tuition scholarship for up to 24 credits per year as needed.

Syracuse University Graduate Fellowships:

Stipend for 8.5 months of full-time study; tuition scholarship for 15 credits per semester for a total of 30 for the academic year.

Department Research Support:

The Department has various funds available to support graduate student travel and research.


The Heroy Geology Laboratory provides well-equipped laboratories and student study research offices. The Department houses state-of-the-art workstation-based seismic data processing, GIS, and image-processing facilities; first-class laboratories for geochronology (U/Pb), thermochronology (40Ar/39Ar and fission track) plus research utilizing all noble gases. The department hosts two regional user facilities - the electron microprobe lab (with a new Cameca SXFive instrument, plus a Renishaw Raman Spectrometer) and the multi-sensor core logging lab.  Also housed in Heroy are the stable isotope geochemistry lab, the paleoclimate dynamics lab, a low-temperature geochemistry lab, a water chemistry lab and a water dynamics lab. Amongst other instrumentation are a scanning electron microscope, a number of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) with various cameras, geophysical equipment such as ground-penetrating radar and resistivity systems, and a 384-core computing cluster. The Department also has a range of sample preparation facilities and clean labs.

The University’s location is central to diverse geologic terrain including the classic Paleozoic sedimentary rocks of the Appalachian plateau, the complex structures and metamorphic rocks of the Adirondack Mountains, the Canadian Shield, and Quaternary sequences in the Finger Lakes. The scope of departmental research is international.

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