This is a shared program between the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences and the Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science.

The program addresses the growing demand for trained professionals in the Earth sciences. The degree emphasizes a research-oriented, global systems approach to studying the Earth and its systems- the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and the lithosphere, including their interrelationships and interactions with the biosphere. Emphasis is on the observation, measurement, and analysis of Earth's systems.

Most student research projects and theses will relate to geologic and geographic topics, however studies of related topics in Earth science are welcome. Students completing the program are qualified to pursue careers that require knowledge of the basics of Earth systems science and the requisite tools, specifically pertaining to the area of Earth science that they choose to investigate. Students are encouraged to undertake a master's thesis but may choose a research project. In the latter case, students must pass a comprehensive exam.


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

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


Applicants should have earned a BS degree in atmospheric, Earth, environmental, geological, geographical, ocean, or physical science. Previous coursework should include two semesters each of calculus, chemistry, and physics, and one semester of statistics. Applicants should have a minimum GPA of 3.00 in their undergraduate degree.

Application Requirements

Official transcripts from each college and graduate institution attended, a current résumé, and a goals statement are required. Applicants also need three letters of recommendation and an official report of scores obtained on the GRE-GEN. The GRE requirement for admission may be waived if the student holds a master's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. TOEFL scores are required of all international applicants.


For policies governing all graduate programs, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Banner Code: SC-MS-ESSC

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 30

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

Candidates must complete 10 credits of GGS courses and 10 credits of GEOL/CLIM courses towards their requirements. ("Culminating Experience" credits do not count towards this requirement).

Earth Science Core

Select one course from each of the following groups:9
Introduction to Physical Climate System
Land-Climate Interactions
Introduction to Atmosphere and Weather
Atmospheric Physics I
Physical Oceanography
Physical and Dynamical Oceanography
The Hydrosphere
Soil Science
The Lithosphere
The Lithosphere
Total Credits9


Select two courses from the following:6
Geographic Information Systems
Quantitative Methods
Remote Sensing
Earth Image Processing
Earth Science Data and Advanced Data Analysis
Courses can be substituted with advisor approval
Total Credits6


GGS 900Geography and Geoinformation Science Colloquium1
Select one from the following:1
Paleontology Seminar
Seminar in Earth Systems Science, Geology, Earth Science
Climate Dynamics Seminar
Total Credits2


Select 10 credits of courses at the 500 to 900-level (excluding 700, 798, and 799 courses)10
Total Credits10

Culminating Experience

Choose the culminating experience of either a thesis or a project (either must total 3 credits):


Select 3 credits from the following:3
Master's Thesis in Earth Systems Science
Master's Thesis in Climate
Total Credits3


Select one from the following:1
Comprehensive Exam
Comprehensive Exam
Climate Comprehensive Exam
Select one from the following:2
Research Project in Earth Systems Science
Master's Research Project in Earth Systems Science
Master's Climate Research Project
Total Credits3