Jul 16, 2024  
2022-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2024 Graduate Catalog

Geoenvironmental Science & Sustainability, M.S.

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An applicant must meet the minimum standards of the Graduate School at Shippensburg and must have an undergraduate minimum of:

  1. 12 hours in geography or 12 hours in the earth sciences or a combined total of 18 hours in the two fields; or,
  2. 15 hours in the social sciences including 6 hours of geography and 15 hours in the natural sciences including 6 hours in the earth sciences.

Admission may be granted by the departmental graduate faculty committee for a student lacking the required level of entrance credits, in which case the department will require the student to take addtional courses to make up the deficiencies.  Applicants who do not have an overall quality point average of 2.75 or greater will be required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) prior to admission. Each student will plan a program on an individual basis with the graduate faculty ensuring a balanced natural/social science background.


The Geography-Earth Science Department at Shippensburg University is committed to student learning and personal development through innovative teaching, high quality field application, and use of geotechnology in all aspects of departmental programs. These commitments will deepen student appreciation of geography-earth science, encourage lifelong learning, and prepare graduates to be successful in their future endeavors. The geoenvironmental studies graduate program is designed to be flexible in order to meet the varied needs of a wide range of students. The specific mission of the graduate program can be summarized as follows:

  • Develop mastery of theoretical knowledge and provide experience with practical applications from a wide range of environmental and geotechnical disciplines.
  • Provide further training and experience to increase competitiveness in the environmental, sustainability, and geotechnical job markets.
  • Provide continuing education to fulfill professional development requirements.
  • Provide a solid foundation for continued graduate education.

Core Areas

The department has several core areas of teaching and research. While one goal of the program is to provide broad training in environmental and sustainability science, students will align with one or more faculty who will advise the student in course selection and research. As such, students must make contact with faculty members to determine where a student’s specific interests lie. Below is a list of core areas:

  • Geo-Environmental Science
  • Social, Economic, and Environmental Sustainability
  • Land Use/Human Geography
  • Geo-Techniques
  • Geology


Students are required to take at least 30 credits to complete the master’s degree in geoenvironmental science and sustainability. Listed below are the specific courses and requirements that must be completed to earn the degree.

  • Students must take GEO 503 Fundamentals of Geoenvironmental Research  during the first semester it is offered.
  • Students must take a minimum of 18 credits at the 500 level, including GEO 503 .
  • Students may take a maximum of 12 credits at the 400-level for credit toward the M.S. degree.
  • Students must take a minimum of 3 credits of geotechniques courses at either the 400 or 500 levels.
  • Students may take a maximum of 6 credits outside of the department.
  • Students must complete a thesis (6 credits) OR a one semester research project (3 credits) and internship (3 credits).
  • Students must take and pass the departmental practical exam upon the completion of 18 credits in the MS program.

Deficiencies and Prerequisites

If an incoming student has little or no experience with geography or environmental science, s/he may be required to take undergraduate courses (not for graduate credit) to overcome these deficiencies. The department chair, graduate coordinator, and curriculum committee will establish a list of deficiencies (if any) for all students before they begin the program. Courses from other higher education institutions or appropriate professional experience may fulfill deficiencies.


The department has two twenty-computer student labs that are equipped with the latest versions of GIS, image processing, and data analysis software as well as color and black and white laser printers. In addition, there is a small research computer lab that is equipped with specialized software along with a 42-inch plotter for poster printing. Attached to the computer labs is a communal graduate assistant office that also contains computers. Graduate students also have access to the student lounge located between the GIS labs.

The department maintains a soil and water quality lab and owns extensive field equipment that can be used for classroom applications and student research. This equipment includes but is not limited to: digital surveying equipment, hand held and logging hydrologic and meteorological equipment, geophysical instruments, soils and geologic tools, air quality monitoring equipment, maps, and GPS units. The software associated with much of this equipment is available in the student or research computer labs. There is dedicated lab space for processing any samples that are collected for classroom or research field projects. Arrangements also exist for more sophisticated off-site sample processing. The university is also part of the Marine Science Consortium at Wallops Island. Students may take advantage of this facility during their graduate program for classroom, research, and internship opportunities.

Degree Requirements (30 crs.)

Students must take a minimum of 18 credits at the 500-level, and may take a maximum of 12 credits at the 400-level for credit toward the master of science degree. To be awarded a Master of Science in Geoenvironmental Science and Sustainability degree, you must complete a minimum of 30 hours of graduate work distributed as follows:

Electives (18 crs.)

Natural/Social Science Electives:

Up to 6 credits may be taken from outside Geography-Earth Science by advisement.

Experiential Requirements (6 crs.)

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