Green Leaf

This degree is intended for students interested in studying the Earth and its processes. Students receive a broad background in the Earth sciences and select one of five specialty concentrations. The concentrations in Earth surface processes, environmental geoscience, geology, and paleontology are solely offered by the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences. The concentration in oceanography and estuarine science is offered jointly with the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, where specific advising is also available.

This is a Green Leaf program.

Teacher Licensure

Students who wish to become teachers and plan to seek teacher licensure should consider the following options:

Interested students should attend an information session early in their undergraduate career. For more information, visit the Graduate School of Education's website.

Admissions

University-wide admissions policies can be found in the Undergraduate Admissions Policies section of this catalog.

To apply for this program, please complete the George Mason University Admissions Application.

Policies

Students must fulfill all Requirements for Bachelor's Degrees, including the Mason Core.

For policies governing all undergraduate degrees, see AP.5 Undergraduate Policies.

Writing Intensive Requirement

GEOL 317 Geomorphology fulfills the writing intensive requirement for this major, with the exception of:
  • The Environmental Geoscience Concentration, whereby GEOL 305 Environmental Geology fulfills the writing intensive requirement.
  • The Paleontology Concentration, whereby GEOL 334 Vertebrate Paleontology  fulfills the writing intensive requirement.

Banner Code: SC-BS-ESCI

Degree Requirements

Total credits: minimum 120

Students should refer to the Admissions & Policies tab for specific policies related to this program.

Students must complete the all coursework with a minimum GPA of 2.00.

Core Science and Mathematics

GEOL 101Introductory Geology I (Mason Core)4
GEOL 309Introduction to Oceanography3
or BIOL 309 Introduction to Oceanography
GEOL 406Seminar in Earth and Environmental Science3
or GEOL 420 Earth Science and Policy (Mason Core)
CHEM 211
CHEM 213
General Chemistry I (Mason Core)
and General Chemistry Laboratory I (Mason Core)
4
CHEM 212
CHEM 214
General Chemistry II (Mason Core)
and General Chemistry Laboratory II (Mason Core)
4
MATH 113Analytic Geometry and Calculus I (Mason Core)4
MATH 114Analytic Geometry and Calculus II4
STAT 250Introductory Statistics I (Mason Core)3
Select one of the following options:3-4
Option A:
Introduction to the Fundamentals of Atmospheric Science (Mason Core)
Introduction to the Fundamentals of Atmospheric Science Lab (Mason Core)
Option B:
Introduction to the Fundamentals of Atmospheric Science (Mason Core)
Introduction to the Fundamentals of Atmospheric Science Lab (Mason Core)
Option C:
Meteorology and Climate
Total Credits32-33

Physics

Select one 8-credit sequence from the following:8
University Physics I (Mason Core)
and University Physics I Laboratory (Mason Core)
and University Physics II (Mason Core)
and University Physics II Laboratory (Mason Core)
College Physics (Mason Core)
and College Physics Lab (Mason Core)
and College Physics (Mason Core)
and College Physics Lab (Mason Core)
Total Credits8

Concentration in Earth Surface Processes (EP) 

This concentration focuses on a broad understanding of the physical processes and natural materials found at or near the Earth's surface that have produced the primary landforms and landscapes observed today. Fundamental concepts, methods and techniques of landscape analysis are also examined. Students choosing this concentration must complete the following coursework:

GEOL 102Introductory Geology II (Mason Core)4
or EVPP 110 The Ecosphere: An Introduction to Environmental Science I (Mason Core)
GEOL 302Mineralogy4
GEOL 303Field Mapping Techniques3
GEOL 306Soil Science3
GEOL 317Geomorphology 14
GGS 311Introduction to Geographic Information Systems3
Select 10-15 credits from the following:10-15
Sedimentary Geology 2
Environmental Geology
Hydrogeology
Topics in Geology II
Coastal Morphology and Processes
Structural Geology
Geochemistry
Geophysics
Total Credits31-36
1

Fulfills writing intensive requirement.

2

GEOL 302 Mineralogy with a C or better is required as a prerequisite.

Concentration in Environmental Geoscience (EVGS)

This concentration provides the tools for applying geologic information (on soils, rocks, water, weather, and landscapes) to contemporary environmental problems (including: pollution, waste management, resource extraction, natural hazards, land-use, habitat restoration, species preservation, and human health). Environmental geoscience studies the physical environment in which biological interactions take place, whereby aiding the understanding of ecology. Students choosing this concentration must complete the following coursework:

GEOL 102Introductory Geology II (Mason Core)4
GEOL 302Mineralogy4
GEOL 305Environmental Geology 13
GEOL 306Soil Science3
GEOL 313Hydrogeology3
GEOL 320Geology of Earth Resources3
GEOL 321Geology of Energy Resources3
GEOL 403Geochemistry3
or CHEM 427 Aquatic Environmental Chemistry
EVPP 336Human Dimensions of the Environment3
or EVPP 361 Introduction to Environmental Policy
Select 6-12 credits from the following:6-12
Global Warming: Weather, Climate, and Society (Mason Core)
Physical Oceanography
Sedimentary Geology
Environment and You: Issues for the Twenty-First Century (Mason Core)
Human Dimensions of the Environment
Introduction to Environmental Policy
Energy Policy
The Human Dimensions of Global Climate Change
Global Environmental Hazards
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Issues in Global Change
Fundamentals of Renewable Energy
Conflict and Our World (Mason Core)
Introduction to Conservation Studies
People with Nature
Human Behavior in Natural Environments
Total Credits35-41
1

Fulfills writing intensive requirement for this concentration only.

Concentration in Geology (GEOL) 

This concentration is fashioned after traditional geology bachelor's degrees. It allows graduates to be employed as geologists in the field or to pursue graduate studies in geology. Students choosing this concentration must complete the following coursework:

GEOL 102Introductory Geology II (Mason Core)4
GEOL 302Mineralogy4
GEOL 304Sedimentary Geology 14
GEOL 308Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology 14
GEOL 312Invertebrate Paleontology4
GEOL 317Geomorphology 24
GEOL 401Structural Geology4
Six credits of6
Geological Field Techniques 3
Total Credits34
1

Prerequisite requires a grade of 'C' or better in GEOL 302 Mineralogy

2

Fulfills writing intensive requirement.

3

A 6-credit geology field camp may be substituted for this requirement, see advisor for details.

Concentration in Oceanography and Estuarine Science (OEST) 

This concentration provides students with a comprehensive knowledge of oceanography. Additional coursework in physical and chemical oceanography give insight into the aquatic environment and its link to both ecosystems and climate. Within the concentration, students can choose an open ocean or coastal ocean option. The curriculum will emphasize local and regional case studies, in particular the Chesapeake Bay. The program will provide students with the basic training required to allow them to obtain entry level positions in oceanographic and estuarine career tracks or an appropriate graduate degree program. Students choosing this concentration must complete the following coursework:

CLIM 412Physical Oceanography3
or GEOL 412 Physical Oceanography
GEOL 102Introductory Geology II (Mason Core)4
GEOL 458Chemical Oceanography3
or CHEM 458 Chemical Oceanography
Select one of the following 8-credit sequences:8
Introductory Biology I (Mason Core)
and Introductory Biology II (Mason Core)
Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core)
and Animal Biology
The Ecosphere: An Introduction to Environmental Science I (Mason Core)
and The Ecosphere: An Introduction to Environmental Science II (Mason Core)
Select one of the following options:15-16
Open Ocean Option:
Marine Geology
Marine Ecology
Three additional courses from the electives list below (minimum of 9 credits)
Coastal Ocean Option:
Coastal Morphology and Processes
Estuarine and Coastal Ecology
Three additional courses from the electives list below (minimum of 9 credits)
Total Credits33-34

Electives 

GEOL 302Mineralogy4
GEOL 304Sedimentary Geology4
GEOL 308Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology4
GEOL 312Invertebrate Paleontology4
GEOL 363Coastal Morphology and Processes4
GEOL 364Marine Geology3
GEOL 565Paleoceanography3
BIOL 440Field Biology 14
BIOL 449Marine Ecology3
EVPP 350Freshwater Ecosystems4
EVPP 377Applied Ecology3
EVPP 419Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation3
EVPP 581Estuarine and Coastal Ecology3
EVPP 582Estuarine and Coastal Ecology Laboratory1
INTS 395Field-Based Work 21-18
Additional recommended course:
RECR 161Scuba Diving: Basic2
1

When topic is Coral Reef Ecology 

2

When topic is Exploring Underwater Ecology. 

Concentration in Paleontology (PLEO) 

This concentration focuses on a broad understanding of Earth's history and the evolution of life on Earth as revealed through the fossil record. Fundamental concepts, methods and techniques of historical geology and paleontological data and analysis are also examined. This concentration may not be taken in conjunction with the paleontology minor. Be aware that some of the courses below may have additional prerequisites. Students choosing this concentration must complete the following coursework:

GEOL 102Introductory Geology II (Mason Core)4
GEOL 302Mineralogy4
GEOL 304Sedimentary Geology4
GEOL 312Invertebrate Paleontology4
GEOL 334Vertebrate Paleontology 14
BIOL 103Introductory Biology I (Mason Core)4
or BIOL 213 Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core)
Select 9-10 credits from the following additional Geology courses:9-10
Soil Science
Geomorphology
Paleoclimatology
Marine Geology
Geochemistry
Physical Oceanography
Chemical Oceanography
Paleoceanography
Select 3-5 credits from the following additional Biology course:3-5
Biodiversity
and Biodiversity Lab and Recitation
Comparative Chordate Anatomy
Invertebrate Zoology
Biogeography: Space, Time, and Life
Biogeography
Vertebrate Natural History
Vertebrate Natural History
Dinosaur Biology
Evolution
Total Credits36-39
1

 Fulfills writing intensive requirement for this concentration only.

 

Mason Core and Elective Credits

In order to meet a minimum of 120 credits, this degree requires additional credits (specific credit counts by concentration are shown below), which may be applied toward any remaining Mason Core requirements, Requirements for Bachelor's Degrees, and elective courses. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisors to ensure that they fulfill all requirements.

  • ESE concentration without Teacher Licensure: 50-51 credits
  • ESE concentration with Teacher Licensure: 29-30 credits
  • EP concentration: 43-49 credits
  • EVGS concentration: 38-45 credits
  • GEOL concentration: 45-46 credits
  • PLEO concentration: 40-44 credits
  • OEST concentration: 42-47 credits

Mason Core

Note: Some Mason Core requirements may already be fulfilled by the major requirements listed above. Students are strongly encouraged to consult their advisors to ensure they fulfill all remaining Mason Core requirements.

Foundation Requirements
Written Communication6
Oral Communication3
Quantitative Reasoning3
Information Technology3-7
Core Requirements
Arts3
Global Understanding3
Literature3
Natural Science7
Social and Behavioral Sciences3
Western Civilization/World History3
Synthesis/Capstone Requirement 1
Synthesis/Capstone3
Total Credits40
1

minimum 3 credits

Honors in the Major

Earth science and geology majors who have completed 16 credits of math and science, including GEOL 302 Mineralogy with a GPA of 3.00 or higher are eligible to enter the departmental honors program. Transfer students who have an incoming GPA of 3.10 or higher in math and science and a grade of ‘B’ or better in GEOL 302 Mineralogy are also eligible. To graduate with honors in Earth Science, students are required to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00 in math and science courses and complete one of the two following sets of courses with an average GPA of 3.50 or better:

Course List
First Set of Courses  
GEOL 410 Research Proposal Preparation 1
GEOL 411 Geological Research 3
GEOL 420 Earth Science and Policy (Mason Core) 3
Second Set of Courses  
CLIM 408 Senior Research 3
CLIM 409 Research Internship 3
GEOL 420 Earth Science and Policy (Mason Core) 3

Bachelor's Degree (Green Leaf)/Environmental Science and Policy, Accelerated MS

Overview

This degree option allows highly qualified George Mason University students to earn an Environmental Science and Policy, MS in less time than if they had first graduated with an environmentally-focused Green Leaf-designated BA or BS degree and then applied to the MS program sequentially.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate programs, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Admission Requirements

Students with an overall GPA of at least 3.20 who are pursuing any Green Leaf-designated major or minor may apply for provisional acceptance into this accelerated master's program after completing two semesters of chemistry (including CHEM 211 General Chemistry I (Mason Core) and CHEM 212 General Chemistry II (Mason Core)) and three semesters of biology, including a course in ecology, or the equivalent, for example:

Select one of the following options:13
Option 1:
Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core)
Biostatistics for Biology Majors
Foundations of Ecology and Evolution
Option 2:
Environmental Biology: Molecules and Cells
Environmental Science: Biological Diversity and Ecosystems
Environmental Science: Biomes and Human Dimensions
Environmental Microbiology Essentials
Environmental Microbiology Essentials Laboratory
Option 3:
Conservation Theory
Applied Conservation
6 credits of 6 credits of BIOL or CONS electives
Option 4:
Ecology and Conservation Theory
Biodiversity Monitoring
BIOL or CONS electives

By the beginning of the undergraduate's senior year, they should first submit a Graduate Application for Accelerated Master's Program form (obtained from the Office of Academic and Student Affairs). Secondly, in their senior year accelerated master's students must complete the two graduate courses indicated on their Accelerated Master's Program Application with a minimum grade of 3.00 in each course. They must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00 in all coursework and in coursework applied to their major. Upon completion and conferral of the undergraduate degree in a Green Leaf-designated program, in the semester indicated in the application, they must additionally submit the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition form (found on the Office of the University Registrar website) and will subsequently be admitted into graduate status.

By at least the beginning of their senior year, they should seek out a faculty member in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy who is willing to serve as their advisor (unless the student is planning to enroll in the MS concentration in Environmental Management). This advisor will aid the student in choosing the appropriate graduate courses to take and help to prepare the student for graduate studies. Admission into a research-oriented master's concentration is dependent upon securing the agreement of a faculty advisor. Faculty from a variety of departments and colleges at George Mason (called "program faculty") can serve as master's advisors. Potential students are encouraged to speak with the graduate program coordinator in the department to obtain guidance on this issue.

Application Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at Mason must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in the Graduate Admission Policies section of this catalog, excluding the GRE exam requirement (which is not required for those enrolled in the accelerated program). This includes three letters of recommendation (at least one from a former professor or someone with a PhD), a recent resume, a statement of interest/research goals and interests (including information on the candidate's proposed MS research), and a letter from their advisor stating that the advisor agrees to take on the candidate as an MS student, how the candidate would be a good fit for them and why candidate's research topic would be suitable (please note that a letter of endorsement from an advisor not necessary for candidates taking the Environmental Management concentration).

For information specific to the accelerated Environmental Science and Policy, MS, see Graduate Admissions on the department's website.

Reserve Graduate Credits

Students admitted to this program may take graduate courses after completing 90 undergraduate credits, and up to 6 credits of appropriate environmentally-focused graduate coursework may be used in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the undergraduate degree. If students earn at least a 3.00 GPA in these classes, they are granted advanced standing in the master's program and must then complete an additional 27-31 credits to receive the master's degree. 

To apply these credits to the master's degree, students must request that the credits be moved from the undergraduate degree to the graduate degree using the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition form found on the Office of the University Registrar website (as noted above).

Students may take up to 6 additional environmentally-focused graduate credits as reserve graduate credit. These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree but will reduce the subsequent master's degree credits accordingly (e.g., with 6 credits counted towards undergraduate degree plus the maximum 6 reserve credits, an MS could be completed with 21 post-bachelor's credits). The ability to take courses for reserve graduate credit is available to all high achieving undergraduates with the permission of the department.

Earth Science, BS/Curriculum and Instruction, Accelerated MEd (Secondary Education Earth Science concentration)

Overview

Highly-qualified undergraduates may be admitted to the bachelor's/accelerated master's option and obtain both a BS in Earth Science and an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction (concentration in secondary education earth science) in an accelerated time-frame after satisfactory completion of 149 credits. See AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree for policies related to this program.

This accelerated option is offered jointly by the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences and the Graduate School of Education.

Students in an accelerated degree program must fulfill all university requirements for the master's degree. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Application Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions Policies. For information specific to this accelerated master's program, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.

Accelerated Option Requirements

Requirements

Students complete the following courses in their senior year:

Senior
Fall SemesterCreditsSpring SemesterCredits
EDCI 5733EDCI 6733
EDUC 6723EDRD 6193
 6 6
Total Credits 12

While undergraduate students, accelerated master's students are able to apply two of the courses listed above to both the bachelor's and master's degrees. These courses are considered advanced standing for the MEd. A minimum grade of B must be earned to be eligible to count as advanced standing. The other two courses are taken as reserve graduate credit and do not apply to the undergraduate degree. Early in their final undergraduate semester, students must submit the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form to the CEHD Admissions Office and specify which of the four courses are to be designated as advanced standing and reserve graduate credit.