This degree is intended for students interested in studying the Earth and its processes. Students receive a Green Leafbroad 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 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-GEOL

formerly (SC-BS-ESCI)

Degree Requirements

Total credits: minimum 120

This is a Green Leaf program.

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

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

Core Science and Mathematics

GEOL 101Introductory Geology I (Mason Core)4
GEOL 309Oceanography3
or BIOL 309 Oceanography
GEOL 420Earth Science and Policy (Mason Core)3
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:
Introduction to Weather 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 I (Mason Core)
and College Physics I Lab (Mason Core)
and College Physics II (Mason Core)
and College Physics II 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 102
GEOL 104
Historical Geology (Mason Core)
and Historical Geology Laboratory (Mason Core)
4
or EVPP 108
EVPP 109
Ecosphere - Introduction to Environmental Science I-Lecture (Mason Core)
and Ecosphere- Introduction to Environmental Science I- Lab (Mason Core)
GEOL 302Mineralogy4
GEOL 303Field Mapping Techniques3
GEOL 306Soil Science3
GEOL 317Geomorphology 14
GGS 311Geographic Information Systems3
Select 10-15 credits from the following:10-15
Sedimentary Geology
Environmental Geology
Hydrogeology
Topics in Geology II
Coastal Morphology and Processes
Structural Geology
Geochemistry
Geophysics
Total Credits31-36

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 102
GEOL 104
Historical Geology (Mason Core)
and Historical Geology Laboratory (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
Geographic Information Systems
Issues in Global Change
Physics of Renewable Energy
Conflict and Our World (Mason Core)
Introduction to Conservation Studies (Mason Core)
People with Nature
Human Behavior in Natural Environments
Total Credits35-41

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 102
GEOL 104
Historical Geology (Mason Core)
and Historical Geology Laboratory (Mason Core)
4
GEOL 302Mineralogy4
GEOL 304Sedimentary Geology4
GEOL 308Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology4
GEOL 312Invertebrate Paleontology4
GEOL 317Geomorphology 14
GEOL 401Structural Geology4
Six credits of6
Geological Field Techniques 2
Total Credits34

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 102
GEOL 104
Historical Geology (Mason Core)
and Historical Geology Laboratory (Mason Core)
4
GEOL 458Chemical Oceanography3
or CHEM 458 Chemical Oceanography
Select one of the following 8-credit sequences:8
Introductory Biology II-Survey of Cell and Molecular Biology (Mason Core)
and Intro Biology II Lecture (Mason Core)
and Introductory Biology II Laboratory (Mason Core)
Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core)
and BioDiversity
Ecosphere - Introduction to Environmental Science I-Lecture (Mason Core)
and Ecosphere- Introduction to Environmental Science I- Lab (Mason Core)
and Ecosphere: Introduction to Environmental Science II-Lecture (Mason Core)
and Ecosphere: Introduction to Environmental Science II–Lab (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

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. Students choosing this concentration must complete the following coursework:

GEOL 102
GEOL 104
Historical Geology (Mason Core)
and Historical Geology Laboratory (Mason Core)
4
GEOL 302Mineralogy4
GEOL 304Sedimentary Geology4
GEOL 312Invertebrate Paleontology4
GEOL 334Vertebrate Paleontology 14
BIOL 103Introductory Biology II-Survey of Cell and Molecular Biology (Mason Core)4
or BIOL 213 Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core)
Select 9-10 credits from the following additional courses:9-10
Soil Science
Geomorphology
Paleoclimatology
Marine Geology
Geochemistry
Physical Oceanography
Chemical Oceanography
Paleoceanography
Select 3-4 credits from the following:3-4
BioDiversity
Comparative Chordate Anatomy
Invertebrate Zoology
Biogeography: Space, Time, and Life
Biogeography
Vertebrate Natural History
Dinosaur Biology
Evolution
Total Credits36-38

 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.

  • EP concentration: 43-49 credits
  • EVGS concentration: 38-45 credits
  • GEOL concentration: 45-46 credits
  • OEST concentration: 45-47 credits
  • PLEO concentration: 41-44 credits

Mason Core

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 Communication (ENGH 101)3
Oral Communication3
Quantitative Reasoning3
Information Technology and Computing3
Exploration Requirements
Arts3
Global Understanding3
Literature3
Natural Science7
Social and Behavioral Sciences3
Western Civilization/World History3
Integration Requirements
Written Communications (ENGH 302)3
Writing-Intensive 13
Synthesis/Capstone 23
Total Credits40

Honors in the Major

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 Geology, 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:

First Set of Courses
GEOL 410Research Proposal Preparation1
GEOL 411Geological Research3
GEOL 420Earth Science and Policy (Mason Core)3
Second Set of Courses
CLIM 408Senior Research3
CLIM 409Research Internship3
GEOL 420Earth Science and Policy (Mason Core)3

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

Overview

This bachelor's/accelerated master's degree program allows academically strong undergraduates with a commitment to advance their education to obtain a Green Leaf-designated bachelor's degree and the Environmental Science and Policy, MS degrees within an accelerated timeframe. Upon completion of this 141 credit accelerated program, students will be exceptionally well prepared for entry into their careers or into a doctoral program in the field or in a related discipline.

Students are eligible to apply for this accelerated program once they have earned at least 60 undergraduate credits and can enroll in up to 18 credits of graduate coursework after successfully completing 75 undergraduate credits. This flexibility makes it possible for students to complete a bachelor's and a master's in five years.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies. For more information on undergraduates enrolling in graduate courses, see AP.1.4.4 Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates.

Admission Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in the Graduate Admission Policies section of this catalog.

Important application information and processes for this accelerated master's program can be found here.

The GRE exam is not required for this accelerated master's program.

Students should submit 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 (see Graduate Advisor section below) 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.

Students with an overall GPA of at least 3.20 who are pursuing any Green Leaf-designated major or minor may apply to 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 BIOL or CONS electives

Graduate Advisor

By at least the beginning of their senior year, students should seek out a faculty member in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy who is willing to serve as their advisor. 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 University (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.

Accelerated Option Requirements

After the completion of 75 undergraduate credits, students may complete 3 to 12 credits of graduate coursework that can apply to both the undergraduate and graduate degrees.

In addition to applying to graduate from the undergraduate program, students in the accelerated program must submit a bachelor's/accelerated master's transition form (available from the Office of the University Registrar) to the College of Science's Office of Academic and Student Affairs by the last day to add classes of their final undergraduate semester. Students should enroll for courses in the master's program in the fall or spring semester immediately following conferral of the bachelor's degree, but should contact an advisor if they would like to defer up to one semester.

Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.00 or higher in all graduate coursework and should consult with their faculty advisor to coordinate their academic goals.

Reserve Graduate Credits

Accelerated master's students may also take up to 6 graduate credits as reserve graduate credits. These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree, but will reduce the master's degree by up to 6 credits. With 12 graduate credits counted toward the undergraduate degree plus the maximum 6 reserve graduate credits, the credits necessary for the graduate degree can be reduced by up to 18.

Graduate Course Suggestions

The following list of suggested courses is provided for general reference. To ensure an efficient route to graduation and post-graduation readiness, students are strongly encouraged to meet with an advisor before registering for graduate-level courses.

EVPP 518Conservation Biology3
EVPP 529Environmental Science Communication3
EVPP 621Overview of Biodiversity Conservation3
EVPP 635Environment and Society3

Geology, 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 program and obtain a BS in Geology and an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction (Secondary Education Earth Science concentration) in an accelerated time-frame after satisfactory completion of a minimum of 143 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 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.

BAM Pathway Admission 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 and Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree policies. For information specific to this accelerated master's program, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.

Students will be considered for admission into the BAM Pathway after completion of a minimum of 60 credits, and additional unit-specific criteria.

Students who are accepted into the BAM Pathway will be allowed to register for graduate level courses after successful completion of a minimum of 75 undergraduate credits and course-specific pre-requisites.

Accelerated Master’s Admission Requirements

Students already admitted in the BAM Pathway will be admitted to the MEd program, if they have met the following criteria, as verified on the Bachelor’s/Accelerated Master’s Transition form:

  • 3.0 overall GPA                                                      
  • Completion of specific undergraduate coursework          
  • Successfully meeting Mason’s requirements for undergraduate degree conferral (graduation) and completing the application for graduation. 

Accelerated Pathway Requirements

To maintain the integrity and quality of both the undergraduate and graduate degree programs, undergraduate students interested in taking graduate courses must choose from the following which can be taken as Advanced Standing or Reserve Graduate credit (to be determined by the student and their advisor):

EDRD 619Literacy in the Content Areas3
EDUC 547Scientific Inquiry and the Nature of Science3
SEED 522Foundations of Secondary Education3
SEED 540Human Development and Learning: Secondary Education3
SEED 573Teaching Science in the Secondary School3
SEED 673Advanced Methods of Teaching Science in the Secondary School3
SEED approved elective

For more detailed information on coursework and timeline requirements, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree policies.

Geology, BS/Earth Systems Science, Accelerated MS

Overview

Geology, and Earth sciences more broadly, are extremely important to society and our economy as they deal with our planet, our oceans, and our climate. Degrees in Earth science are broadly useful in industry, government, conservation, and many other areas of our economy. While there are many positions in the field that only require a bachelor’s degree, many employers either prefer a Master’s degree, or a Master’s degree can be the key to further promotion within a particular organization. This Accelerated Master’s degree is designed to give students the skills and the degrees that they need to be both initially successful, and to ensure long-term advancement in their chosen professions.

Application Requirements

Applicants should be enrolled in the Geology, BS degree at Mason and have earned at least 60 credits. 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.

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 (including information on the applicant's proposed MS research), and a letter from their advisor. This letter should state that the advisor agrees to take on the candidate as an MS student, addresses how the candidate would be a good fit for them, and indicate why the applicant's research topic would be suitable for study.

Accelerated Option Requirements

Students admitted to this program may take graduate courses after completing 75 undergraduate credits, and up to 12 credits of appropriate 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 24 credits to receive the master's degree. All other requirements for the Earth Systems Science, MS, must be met.

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's website.

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.

Reserve Graduate Credit

Undergraduate students may also take up to 6 additional and appropriate 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 12 credits counted toward the undergraduate and graduate degrees plus the maximum 6 reserve credits for the master's, an MS could be completed with 12 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.

Graduate Course Suggestions

Students should consult with an advisor before registering for graduate credits.

GEOL 504Sedimentary Geology4
GEOL 506Soil Science3
GEOL 513Hydrogeology3
GEOL 521Geology of Energy Resources3
GEOL 532Paleoclimatology3
GEOL 534Vertebrate Paleontology4
GEOL 536Paleontology Seminar1-2
GEOL 553Field Mapping Techniques3