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The University of Texas at Arlington
Vol LXXXVII - July 2004
Graduate Catalog 2004-2006
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     Note: This Catalog is superseded by the 2005-2006 Catalog.

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

department web page: www.uta.edu/geology/
department contact: geology@uta.edu
graduate web page: www.uta.edu/geology/Graduate_programs.htm
graduate contact:


John S. Wickham
107 Geoscience

Admission Requirements | Degree Requirements | Courses: GEOL

Areas of Study and Degrees


Mathematical Geoscience
(See Interdepartmental and Intercampus Programs.)

Environmental Science and Engineering
M.S., Ph.D.
(See Interdepartmental and Intercampus Programs.)

Earth Science Teaching
(See Interdepartmental and Intercampus Programs.)

Spatial Information Systems

Petroleum Geoscience

Master's Degree Plans

(Thesis and Non-Thesis Options)

Graduate Advisor, Geology

William L. Balsam

Graduate Advisor, Mathematical Geoscience

Merlynd K. Nestell

Graduate Advisor, Environmental Science and Engineering

Karen Johannesson

Graduate Faculty


Balsam, Crick, Holbrook, M. Nestell, Scotese, Wickham

Associate Professor

K. Johannesson

Adjunct Faculty

Bhattacharya, Damuth, Eisenstadt, Ellwood, Leybourne, Medley, G. Nestell, Oliver, Shanmugam, Standlee

Professors Emeritus

Burkart, McNulty, Smith


The Master of Science in geology provides a basic geologic background for students interested in a professional career in geology. With the thesis as a focus, the program integrates coursework and research to give the student not only a broad foundation but also a specific area of competence through participation in the research experience. Special coursework and research in geology, which lead to specialization in the areas of environmental geology or natural resource development, are available in addition to the more traditional areas of specialization.

The Ph.D. program in Mathematical Sciences is available to students interested in a more quantitative approach to earth science. Emphases in statistics or numerical and computational methods are especially useful when combined with coursework in the earth and environmental sciences. For more details on the Ph.D. in Mathematical Sciences, see the section on Interdepartmental and Intercampus Programs.

The M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Environmental Science and Engineering are designed for students interested in applying environmental geoscience in a multidisciplinary setting involving engineering, biology, chemistry and public policy. For more details on these programs, see the Interdepartmental and Intercampus Programs section of this catalog.

The M.A. degree in science teaching is for K-12 teachers who want to increase their teaching skills and understanding of science in general and earth science in particular.

Spatial Information Systems Certificate includes instruction in the technology of acquiring, managing, analyzing, and displaying information in a spatial context. This technology is a critical component of decision-making in a wide variety of enterprises and includes Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, the Global Positioning System (GPS), and remotely sensed data from aircraft and satellites.

The Petroleum Geoscience Certificate provides instruction in the geological principles and techniques used in the petroleum industry to explore and produce oil and gas. It is useful for professionals wishing to upgrade their knowledge and skills, and those interested in employment in the petroleum industry. The graduate courses may also be used toward a M.S. degree.


Students entering the graduate program in geology must meet the general Graduate School admission requirements. Those in the certificate programs will be admitted as Special Students and do not have to meet all the admissions requirements for the degree programs.

Applicants with degrees in geology are encouraged to have had the following courses or their equivalents as a part of a bachelor's program: mineralogy (2445), petrology-petrography (2446), paleontology (3441), computer literacy (1391), stratigraphy (3442), structural geology (3443), field geology (3387, 3388), one year each of physics, chemistry, biology and math through calculus II.

A program of leveling coursework for students with undergraduate deficiencies will be designed by the graduate studies committee depending on the student's professional interests.

Students in the Environmental Science and Engineering or Mathematical Geoscience degree programs who want to concentrate in geoscience should also have a baccalaureate degree in Geology with extra coursework in science, math, or engineering.

Those admitted into the Spatial Information Certificate program should be computer literate, with a B.S. or B.A. degree.

Students in the Petroleum Geoscience Certificate should have a baccalaureate degree in geoscience, or a degree in science, math or engineering with some experience in the petroleum industry.

Masters Program Admissions Criteria

For unconditional admission, students must demonstrate that they will likely be successful in the graduate program. The department admissions committee uses the following guidelines to make that judgment:

  1. A B.S. degree in an Earth Science discipline with the following courses or their equivalent: Mineralogy, Petrology, Structure, Stratigraphy, Field Geology and Geophysics or Paleontology. In addition, students need a year of Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Calculus.
  2. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, as calculated by the Graduate School.
  3. GRE scores are combined with the other measures of achievement to determine admission. Successful students in the past have scored above the 60 percentile on the verbal, quantitative and analytical writing portions. International students have been successful with somewhat lower scores on the verbal and analytical writing portions.
  4. Favorable letters of recommendation from the former university instructors.

These are only guidelines, and students who do not meet the guidelines in one area may be admitted unconditionally if they are strong in other areas.

Students that are unconditionally admitted will be eligible for available scholarship and/or fellowship support. Award of scholarships or fellowships will be based on consideration of the same criteria utilized in admission decisions. To be eligible, candidates must be new students coming to UTA in the fall semester, must have a GPA of 3.0 in their last 60 undergraduate credit hours plus any graduate credit hours as calculated by the Graduate School, and must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 hours of coursework in both long semesters to retain their fellowships.

If an applicant does not meet the standards for unconditional admission outlined above, they may be considered for probationary admission after careful examination of their application materials. Probationary admission requires that the applicant receive a B or better in their first 12 hours of graduate coursework at UTA.

A candidate may be denied admission if they have less than satisfactory performance on a majority of the admission criteria described above. However, students who are nearly qualified for unconditional admission may be admitted on probationary status in which they will be required to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their first 12 hours of formal courses in the program.

A deferred application decision may be granted when a file is incomplete or when a denied decision is not appropriate. An applicant unable to supply all required documentation prior to the admission deadline but who otherwise appears to meet admission requirements may be granted provisional admission.

Finally, international students must have a minimum score of 550 on the TOEFL exam. To have a graduate teaching assistantship, international students must also have a minimum score of 40 on the TSE.

Degree Requirements

In the first year, a degree candidate must file a plan approved by the graduate studies committee, which includes coursework for the program including undergraduate course deficiencies if any. The graduate studies committee may allow graduate course credit for undergraduate courses with written approval. Enrollment in Technical Sessions, GEOL 5199, is required each semester a student is enrolled in lecture classes.

For the M.S. thesis option, 24 semester hours of approved graduate level courses are required in addition to the thesis. A thesis proposal, written thesis and thesis defense are required. No more than 3 hours of research courses and one hour of 5199 can be applied to the 24 semester hours.

For the M.S. non-thesis option, a minimum of 36 hours of approved graduate courses are required. A minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6 hours are to be taken in GEOL 5381, Research in Geology. No more than 2 hours of 5199 can be applied to the 36 required hours.

The degree requirements for the Environmental Science and Engineering, the Mathematical Geosciences, and Master of Arts in teaching programs are described in the Interdepartmental and Intercampus Programs section of this catalog.

The two certificate programs require 15 hours of graduate credit each with a grade point average of 3.0. The Spatial Information Systems Certificate requires a project as part of the 15 credit hours.

The grade of R (research in progress) is a permanent grade; completing course requirements in a later semester cannot change it. To receive credit for an R-graded course, the student must continue to enroll in the course until a passing grade is received.

An incomplete grade (the grade of X) cannot be given in a course that is graded R, nor can the grade of R be given in a course that is graded X. To receive credit for a course in which the student earned an X, the student must complete the course requirements. Enrolling again in the course in which an X was earned cannot change a grade of X. At the discretion of the instructor, a final grade can be assigned through a change of grade form.

Three-hour thesis courses and three- and six-hour dissertation courses are graded R/F/W only (except social work thesis courses). The grade of P (required for degree completion for students enrolled in thesis or dissertation programs) can be earned only in six- or nine-hour thesis courses and nine-hour dissertation courses. In the course listings below, R-graded courses are designated either "Graded P/F/R" or "Graded R." Occasionally, the valid grades for a course change. Students should consult the appropriate Graduate Advisor or instructor for valid grade information for particular courses. (See also the sections titled "R" Grade, Credit for Research, Internship, Thesis or Dissertation Courses and Incomplete Grade in this catalog.)

Courses in Geology (GEOL)

Course fee information is published in the online Student Schedule of Classes. Please refer to www.uta.edu/schedule for a detailed listing of specific course fees.

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