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Detailed Requirements for MS in Geophysics

  1. Acceptance into the program.
  2. All students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with all of the rules, regulations, etc., of the University, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Department of Geosciences and for meeting all requirements.  Students are reminded that the University requires them to complete their degree requirements within five (5) consecutive years after their initial enrollment in graduate course work at the University of Houston.  Additionally, graduate credit is not given for any University of Houston course work completed prior to admission into the graduate program, e.g., courses taken as a post-baccalaureate student (PB).
  3. All new students must meet with Graduate Committee and Director of Graduate Studies the week prior to registration for the first semester.  In succeeding semesters, students must meet with Graduate Committee the week prior to registration and also with either the Director of Graduate Studies or their Thesis Advisor.  These meetings are to review the student’s progress toward the degree and to advise on course work.
  4. A minimum of 30 credit hours of course work is required for the M.S. degree in Geophysics.  Twenty-one (21) hours must consist of 6000 level Geosciences courses (including 6 hours of thesis credit), and the remaining 9 hours can be selected 4000 level (or above) courses or approved 3000 level (or above) course work in other departments.  No more than six (6) undergraduate hours may be in the Geosciences.  A maximum of 6 semester hours of graduate level course work can be transferred from other institutions, if the grades are B or higher, the courses are relevant to the program, and were taken within the last 5 years.

    To ensure a common background for students in the Geophysics MS program, students will take or demonstrate that they have appropriate coursework in Geology, Geophysics, Physics and Mathematics at the undergraduate level. Up to a maximum of 6 semester hours earned from background courses may be used toward the minimum 30hour requirement.

    To provide a fundamental background in the essential elements of geophysics, all students are required to take the following 3 courses: GEOL 7330 (Potential Field Methods of Geophysical Exploration), GEOL 7331 (Geophysical Data Analysis), and GEOL 7333 (Seismic Wave and Ray Theory). In addition to these 3 required courses, each student will take at least ONE course from each of the following three areas: (1) Data Processing, (2) Interpretation, and (3) Solid Earth and Tectonics. Students are encouraged to make their selections after consultation with their Thesis Advisor.

    No more than 6 hours of special problems courses can be counted towards the required 30-hour minimum. An average of B must be maintained in courses taken for graduate credit.  A grade of C+ or lower in four such courses (12 hours) renders the student ineligible for any advanced degree at the University of Houston.
  5. All supported students (T.A.s, R.A.s, etc.) are required to enroll in at least nine (9) semester hours during the Fall and Spring semesters and 6 hours during the Summer while receiving financial support from the University.
  6. Select a thesis topic and Thesis Advisor (tenure track faculty member) as soon as possible - usually prior to completion of 9 hours of graduate course work but definitely prior to completion of 15 hours. The initial selection of an advisor is not binding on the student or the faculty member.  The student may change his/her advisor, but it is the responsibility of the student to review his/her degree plan with the new advisor.

    Students are encouraged to talk with different faculty members as early as possible in order to identify those with similar research interests.  The early identification of a research problem is important, because it will allow the student and the advisor to efficiently and effectively choose the course work that will directly supplement the research.  The student and the advisor will plan the remainder of the course work. The 30 credit hours are a minimum and, for a specific area of interest, it may be necessary for the student to complete additional course work. 
  7. No later than the second semester the student should establish a Thesis Committee composed of, at a minimum, two tenure track Geoscience’s faculty members (one as the advisor), and one member external to the department. Tenure track faculty members must comprise 50% or more of the committee. The thesis committee must be formally constituted (and approved by the Dean’s Office) at least one semester prior to graduation from the University of Houston.
  8. All students must present a thesis proposal.  All students financially supported by the University must present their proposal prior to the end of the 11th week of classes during their second semester in the program. Two hours should be allocated for the Thesis Proposal presentation and questions. Proposals are preceded by the distribution of a 5 to 10 page (10 page maximum for text) written description of the thesis project to the Thesis Committee.  A one page abstract must be posted and distributed to all Faculty members at least one week prior to presentation and a copy of the full proposal filed with the Advising Assistant at that time.  The proposal abstract must contain the title, time and place of the proposal, and the names of the committee members.  The Thesis Advisor and at least one other member of the committee must initial the abstract prior to posting, indicating that they approve of the presentation of the proposal.  Upon successful presentation of the proposal, a copy of the complete proposal with the Thesis Advisor’s signature indicating approval must be filed with the Advising Assistant, to be placed in the student's permanent academic file. Scheduling of the Thesis Proposal is done by each student through the Advising Assistant. Proposals can take place Monday-Friday, with starting times between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., during the Fall and Spring semesters.  Proposals cannot occur during Summer terms, vacations, reading days, or final examination periods (nor over spring or inter-semester breaks).

    The student should demonstrate, both in the written proposal and oral presentation, a thorough understanding of the thesis research, i.e., its anticipated significance, previous work in the area, methods by which pertinent data will/can be gathered, limitations of the research, possible pitfalls, etc.  It is incumbent upon the student to convey to the Faculty that the student has a thorough understanding of all aspects of the thesis research.  Thus, it is strongly recommended that the student review all aspects of the thesis research, both the written proposal and oral presentation with the Thesis Advisor as well as with any other pertinent faculty member(s), other professionals, and/or fellow students prior to the oral presentation.

    The oral presentation, approximately 30 minutes long, will be followed by a period during which all present can ask questions of the student related to the suitability and feasibility of the project, as well as the student's ability to perform the research. All faculty present can participate in the deliberations and vote on the success or failure of the student's performance in the Thesis Proposal. Approval by a majority of those voting is needed to pass the proposal.  At their discretion, a majority of those voting can allow a student who failed the Thesis Proposal to re-propose, however this can be done only once.  The second presentation must take place within one (1) month of the initial presentation.
  9. Initiate thesis research during summer or earlier and continue into second year.  Conclude course work and finish thesis research.
  10. Completion of all course requirements, i.e., a minimum of 24 hours of course work plus 6 for thesis research.  The student must be registered for Thesis Research (Geol. 6399) each semester after successfully proposing his/her thesis.
  11. During the semester in which the student wishes to graduate, the student must be enrolled for Thesis Research Geol. 7399 and also file for graduation.
  12. Upon completion of the research and the writing of a thesis deemed acceptable by the Thesis Committee, a defense of the thesis is scheduled by the student.  A public defense of the complete thesis research will be presented to the Faculty at large and may be attended by any other interested parties. An abstract, which lists the time and place of the defense, must be distributed to the department Faculty and posted publicly at least one week prior to the scheduled date. The Thesis Advisor and at least one other departmental committee member must initial the notice of defense, thus indicating that they approve of the defense.   An unbound copy of the final draft, including all illustrations, must be made available in the Departmental Office at least one week prior to the defense date for inspection by the Faculty of the Department of Geosciences.  A successful defense of the thesis requires a majority vote of the thesis research committee.

    M.S. defenses can be made Monday-Friday during the Spring, Summer, and Fall semesters with starting times between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  Defenses cannot be given during vacations, reading days, or final examination periods (nor over spring or inter-semester breaks).  Scheduling of defenses is done through the Advising Assistant.
  13. Submission of an acceptable thesis in final form to the Department and the College.  A brochure outlining the format to be followed can be obtained from the Office of the College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics.
  14. Graduate.