Academic Programs Catalog

College of Natural Science

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

David W. Hyndman, Chairperson

Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) target understanding the dynamic nature of the Earth - from its origin to today. We study the transformation of Earth over timescales ranging from milliseconds to billions of years. We collaborate to understand how physical, biological, and chemical systems formed and continue to shape the Earth.

Among the natural sciences, this is the quintessential interdisciplinary science. In addition to geological disciplines, including seismology, petrology, hydrology, geomicrobiology, paleobiology, geochemistry, mineral physics, tectonics, and cognition, EES students can expect to take courses in related sciences, including biology, chemistry, physics, math, and computational sciences.  This multi-disciplinary curriculum provides a unique perspective on issues such as the availability of natural resources, assessment and response to environmental hazards, and the influence of humans on Earth systems. Our goal is to prepare graduates to lead the way in shaping decisions concerning the stewardship of our planet.



 

Undergraduate Programs


Environmental Geosciences

Requirements for the Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Geosciences

  1. The University requirements for bachelor's degrees as described in the Undergraduate Education section of this catalog; 120 credits, including general elective credits, are required for the Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Geosciences.

    The University's Tier II writing requirement for the Environmental Geosciences major is met by completing Geological Sciences 401.  That course is referenced in item 3. b. below.

    Students who are enrolled in the College of Natural Science may complete the alternative track to Integrative Studies in Biological and Physical Sciences that is described in item 1. under the heading Graduation Requirements in the College statement.  Certain courses referenced in requirement 3. below may be used to satisfy the alternative track.
  2. The requirements of the College of Natural Science for the Bachelor of Science degree.

    The credits earned in certain courses referenced in requirement 3. below may be counted toward College requirements as appropriate.
  3. The following requirements for the major:
    a. The following courses outside the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (24 to 26 credits):
    (1) All of the following courses (8 credits):
    CEM 161 Chemistry Laboratory I 1
    MTH 132 Calculus I 3
    MTH 133 Calculus II 4
    (2) One of the following groups of courses (7 credits):
    (a) CEM 141 General Chemistry I 4
    CEM 142 General and Inorganic Chemistry 3
    (b) CEM 151 General and Descriptive Chemistry 4
    CEM 152 Principles of Chemistry 3
    (3) One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):
    MTH 234 Multivariable Calculus 4
    STT 200 Statistical Methods 3
    STT 201 Statistical Methods 4
    STT 231 Statistics for Scientists 3
    STT 421 Statistics I 3
    (4) One of the following groups of courses (8 credits):
    (a) PHY 231 Introductory Physics I 3
    PHY 232 Introductory Physics II 3
    PHY 251 Introductory Physics Laboratory I 1
    PHY 252 Introductory Physics Laboratory II 1
    (b) PHY 183 Physics for Scientists and Engineers I 4
    PHY 184 Physics for Scientists and Engineers II 4
    (5) One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):
    GEO 203 Introduction to Meteorology 3
    ZOL 303 Oceanography 4
    (6) One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):
    GEO 324 Remote Sensing of the Environment 4
    GEO 325 Geographic Information Systems 3
    STT 464 Statistics for Biologists 3
    (7) One of the following courses (3 credits):
    GEO 435 Geography of Health and Disease 3
    ZOL 355 Ecology 3
    b. The following courses in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (31 credits):
    GLG 201 The Dynamic Earth 4
    GLG 304 Physical and Biological History of the Earth 4
    GLG 321 Mineralogy and Geochemistry 4
    GLG 401 Global Tectonics and Earth Structure (W) 4
    GLG 411 Hydrogeology 3
    GLG 412 Glacial Geology and the Record of Climate Change 4
    GLG 421 Environmental Geochemistry 4
    GLG 431 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (W) 4
    The completion of GLG 401 satisfies the department’s capstone course requirement.
    c. One course from each of the following areas (9 or 10 credits):
    Geophysical Systems
    CE 421 Engineering Hydrology 3
    GEO 409 Global Climate Change and Variability 3
    GLG 413 Groundwater Contamination 3
    GLG 471 Applied Geophysics 4
    GLG 481 Reservoirs and Aquifers 3
    Geochemical Systems
    CE 481 Environmental Chemistry - Equalibrium Concepts 3
    CEM 251 Organic Chemistry I 3
    CSS 455 Pollutants in the Soil Environment 3
    Geobiological Systems
    ENT 319 Introduction to Earth Systems Science 3
    FW 420 Stream Ecology 3
    MMG 425 Microbial Ecology 3
    MMG 426 Biogeochemistry 3
    d. Additional credits in Geological Science courses at the 300-400 level to total 40 credits.  The credits that are used to satisfy this requirement may be used to satisfy either the requirements for the geological sciences major or the requirements for the environmental geosciences major, but not both of these requirements.
    Plant Biology 335 and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics 426 may be used to satisfy either the requirements for the major or the requirements referenced under the heading Graduation Requirements in the College statement, but not both of those requirements.

Concentration in Geophysics

A concentration in geophysics is also available. Students must complete all of the following courses. Courses that are used to satisfy the requirements for the concentration may also be used to satisfy the requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Geosciences. The concentration will be noted on the student’s transcript. 

GLG  470 Principles of Modern Geophysics 3
GLG  471 Applied Geophysics 4
MTH 234 Multivariable Calculus 4
MTH 235 Differential Equations 3
PHY 183 Physics for Scientists and Engineers I 4
PHY  184 Physics for Scientists and Engineers II 4


Geological Sciences

Requirements for the Bachelor of Science Degree in Geological Sciences

  1. The University requirements for bachelor's degrees as described in the Undergraduate Education section of this catalog; 120 credits, including general elective credits, are required for the Bachelor of Science degree in Geological Sciences.

    The University's Tier II writing requirement for the Geological Sciences major is met by completing Geological Sciences 401.  That courses is referenced in item 3. b. below.

    Students who are enrolled in the College of Natural Science may complete the alternative track to Integrative Studies in Biological and Physical Sciences that is described in item 1. under the heading Graduation Requirements in the College statement.  Certain courses referenced in requirement 3. below may be used to satisfy the alternative track.
  2. The requirements of the College of Natural Science for the Bachelor of Science degree.

    The credits earned in certain courses referenced in requirement 3. below may be counted toward College requirements as appropriate.
  3. The following requirements for the major:
    a. The following courses outside the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (26 or 27 credits):
    (1) All of the following courses (8 credits):
    CEM 161 Chemistry Laboratory I 1
    MTH 132 Calculus I 3
    MTH 133 Calculus II 4
    (2) One of the following pairs of courses (7 credits):
    (a) CEM 141 General Chemistry 4
    CEM 142 General and Inorganic Chemistry 3
    (b) CEM 151 General and Descriptive Chemistry  4
    CEM 152 Principles of Chemistry  3
    (3) One of the following options (3 or 4 credits):
    (a) MTH 234 Multivariable Calculus  4
    (b) One course of at least 3 credits in statistics and probability.
    (4) One of the following groups of courses (8 credits):
    (a) PHY 231 Introductory Physics I 3
    PHY 232 Introductory Physics II 3
    PHY 251 Introductory Physics Laboratory I 1
    PHY 252 Introductory Physics Laboratory II 1
    (b) PHY 183 Physics for Scientists and Engineers I 4
    PHY 184 Physics for Scientists and Engineers II 4
    b. The following courses in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (40 credits):
    GLG 201 The Dynamic Earth 4
    GLG 304 Physical and Biological History of the Earth 4
    GLG 321 Mineralogy and Geochemistry 4
    GLG 361 Petrology 4
    GLG 401 Global Tectonics and Earth Structure (W) 4
    GLG 431 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy 4
    GLG 491 Field Geology – Summer Camp (W) 6
    Ten additional credits in Geological Sciences courses at the 300–400 level. Plant Biology 335 and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics 426 may be used to satisfy either the requirements for the major or the requirements referenced under the heading Graduation Requirements in the College statement, but not both of those requirements. The credits that are used to satisfy this requirement may be used to satisfy either the requirements for the geological sciences major or the requirements for the environmental geosciences major, but not both of those requirements.
    The completion of Geological Sciences 491 fulfills the department's capstone course requirement.

Concentration in Geophysics

A concentration in geophysics is also available. Students must complete all of the following courses. Courses that are used to satisfy the requirements for the concentration may also be used to satisfy the requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree in Geological Sciences. The concentration will be noted on the student’s transcript.

1. All of the following courses (22 credits):
GLG 470 Principles of Modern Geophysics 3
GLG 471 Applied Geophysics 4
MTH 234 Multivariate Calculus 4
MTH 235 Differential Equations 3
PHY 183 Physics for Scientists and Engineers I 4
PHY 184 Physics for Scientists and Engineers II 4


 


Teacher Certification Options

The earth science—interdepartmental disciplinary major leading to the Bachelor of Science degree is available for teacher certification. Students who complete the requirements for this disciplinary major and the requirements for teacher certification choose whether they wish to be recommended for certification in earth science or general science.

An earth science disciplinary minor is also available for teacher certification.

Students who elect the earth science—interdepartmental disciplinary major or the earth science disciplinary minor must contact the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

For additional information, refer to the statement on TEACHER CERTIFICATION in the Department of Teacher Education section of this catalog.


Graduate Study

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences offers programs in geological sciences leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The department also offers programs in environmental geosciences leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

The goal of the graduate programs in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences is to develop creative and productive scientists who can develop skills to address problems facing the modern environment and problems related to understanding the Earth's past and future.

The Department's graduate programs emphasize the study of the biological, chemical, and physical processes of the Earth and the application of knowledge about these processes to solve applied and basic problems over time scales ranging from seconds to billions of years.

Areas of active research in the department include experimental minerology, geochemistry, geocognition, geodynamics, geomicrobiology, geophysics, hydrology, hydrogeology, land use sustainability, mineral/water interactions, evolutionary paleobiology, petrology, seismology, and tectonics.

 

Environmental Geosciences - Master of Science

The Master of Science degree program in environmental geosciences is available under either Plan A (with thesis) or Plan B (without thesis). 

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Natural Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

When applying for admission to the program, an applicant must specify either Plan A or Plan B.

Academic record, letters of recommendation, and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test scores are considered in admission decisions.

For regular admission to the master's degree program in environmental geosciences under Plan A, the student must have:

  1. A bachelor's degree in a physical or biological science or in engineering from a recognized educational institution.
  2. Completed the courses in physics, chemistry, and mathematics that are required for the Bachelor of Science degree with a major in geological sciences at Michigan State University, or equivalent courses.
  3. At least 12 credits in geological sciences courses.
  4. A grade–point average of at least 3.00.
  5. Satisfactory scores on the GRE General Test.

Provisional admission may be granted to an applicant who has not completed the course work referenced in items 2. and 3. above.  Deficiencies must be removed by completing collateral courses. 

For regular admission to the master's degree program in environmental geosciences under Plan B, the student must have:

  1. Completed a Master of Science degree in the geosciences for which a thesis was required.
  2. A grade–point average of at least 3.00.
  3. Satisfactory scores on the GRE General Test.

Requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Environmental Geosciences

A total of 30 credits is required for the degree under either Plan A or Plan B.  The student's program of study must be approved by the student's guidance committee.  The student must meet the requirements specified below:

Requirements for Both Plan A and Plan B

               
1. Tier I requirements (10 to 12 credits):  
  a. General Component.  The following course (1 credit):  
    GLG 423 Environmental Geosciences 1
  b. Soil Component.  One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):  
    CSS 455 Pollutants in the Soil Environment 3
    CSS 825 Clay Mineralogy and Soils Genesis 4
    CSS 855 Interfacial Environmental Chemistry 4
  c. Chemical Component.  One of the following courses (3 credits):  
    GLG 421 Environmental Geochemistry 3
    GLG 821 Aqueous Geochemistry 3
    GLG 823 Isotope Geochemistry 3
  d. Hydrogeology Component.   One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):  
    CE 421 Engineering Hydrology 3
    CE 821 Groundwater Hydraulics 3
    GLG 411 Hydrogeology 4
2. Tier II requirement.  One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):  
  GEO 408 Soil Geomorphology Field Study 4
  GLG 412 Glacial and Quaternary Geology 3
  GLG 422 Organic Geochemistry 3
  GLG 471 Applied Geophysics 4
  GLG 481 Reservoirs and Aquifers 4
  GLG 822 Analytical Applications for Biogeochemical Research 3
  GLG 863 Mineral–Water Interactions 4
  With the approval of the guidance committee, a student may substitute a course listed in the Tier I requirements for one of the courses listed above.  

A student who completed any course listed in the Tier I requirements or in the Tier II requirement prior to enrollment in the program must substitute another course approved by the student's guidance committee.

A  given course may be used to satisfy either the Tier I requirements or the Tier II requirement, but not both of those requirements.

Additional Requirements for Plan A

  1. Tier III requirement:
    Seven to 13 credits in courses approved by the student's guidance committee.
  2. Tier IV requirement:
    Four to 7 credits in GLG 899 Master's Thesis Research.  The research area may focus on any topic that may have applications to solving problems related to the environment.  The student must include in the thesis proposal a paragraph that addresses the environmental applications of the thesis topic selected.

Additional Requirements for Plan B

  1. Tier III requirement:
    Thirteen to 16 credits in courses approved by the student's guidance committee.
  2. Tier IV requirement:
    One credit of GLG 898  Special Problems in Environmental Geosciences.  The student must complete a research paper or project while enrolled in Geological Sciences 898.  The topic of the paper or project must be mutually agreed upon by the student and the student's academic advisor.




Environmental Geosciences - Doctor of Philosophy

The core of the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in environmental geosciences is independent research.  Course requirements are designed to support the student's professional goals.  Commonly, research programs are pursued within the specialty of the staff.  However, innovative research is encouraged in any area of environmental geosciences.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the University and of the College of Natural Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

Students holding bachelor's or master's degrees may be admitted to the doctoral program in environmental geosciences on the basis of their performance during the previous two years of academic work.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Environmental Geosciences

The program of study is determined by mutual agreement between the student and the guidance committee. The student must complete, or have completed prior to admission, 9 credits of course work in geological sciences including a course in physical geology and at least 3 credits in 800-level course work.

The required comprehensive examination involves both an oral and a written portion and covers the area of the student's research specialty, those areas that interface with that specialty, and the significance of the proposed research program.  Students who are admitted to the doctoral program with master's degrees must pass the comprehensive examination during the second year of enrollment in the program.  Students who are admitted to the doctoral program with bachelor's degrees must pass the comprehensive examination during the third year of enrollment in the program.

 


Environmental Geosciences - Environmental Toxicology - Doctor of Philosophy

For information about the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in environmental geosciences–environmental toxicology, refer to the statement on Doctoral Program in Environmental and Integrative Toxicological Sciences in the Graduate Education section of this catalog.

 


Geological Sciences - Master of Science

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Natural Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

Academic record, letters of recommendation, and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test scores are considered in admission decisions.  For regular admission, the student must have:

  1. A bachelor's degree in a physical or biological science or in mathematics from a recognized educational institution.
  2. Completed the courses in physics, chemistry, mathematics, and geological sciences that are required for the Bachelor of Science degree with a major in geological sciences at Michigan State University, or equivalent courses.
  3. A grade–point average of at least 3.00.
  4. Satisfactory scores on the GRE General Test.

Depending on the proposed area of specialization, provisional admission may be granted to an applicant who has not completed the courses referenced in item 2. above. Deficiencies must be removed by completing collateral courses before a thesis proposal will be accepted.

Requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Geological Sciences

The student must complete a total of 30 credits for the degree under Plan A (with thesis).  Of the 30 credits, no more than 7 credits may be in Geological Sciences 899.



Geological Sciences - Doctor of Philosophy

The core of the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in geological sciences is independent research. Course requirements are designed to support the student's professional goals. Commonly, research programs are pursued within the specialty of the staff. However, innovative research is encouraged in any area of geological sciences.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the University and of the College of Natural Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

Students holding bachelor's or master's degrees may be admitted to the doctoral program in geological sciences on the basis of their performance during the previous two years of academic work.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Geological Sciences

The program of study is determined by mutual agreement between the student and the guidance committee.

The required comprehensive examination involves both an oral and a written portion and covers the area of the student's research specialty, those areas that interface with that specialty, and the significance of the proposed research program.  Students who are admitted to the doctoral program with master's degrees must pass the comprehensive examination during the second year of enrollment in the program.  Students who are admitted to the doctoral program with bachelor's degrees must pass the comprehensive examination during the third year of enrollment in the program.