M.S. in Physical Sciences
Earth Science Concentration
DESCRIPTION OF QUALIFYING EXAMINATIONThe earth science
qualifying examination should be taken prior to completion of 12 credit hours of
graduate course work. This normally means the exam is taken during the student's
first year of graduate study. The exam may be taken later, if the student needs
additional time to complete probationary requirements.
The exam consists of four sections, of which the student may select three to
take. The exam is designed to test general understanding of the subject matter
at the undergraduate level. The exam consists of various objective-style
questions including true-false, multiple choice, short answer, and diagram
interpretation. At the first time of examination, the student is required to
take all three selected portions. One hour is allowed to take each, with a short
break given between parts.
Each part of the exam includes 60 points, for which a score of 40 or above is
passing. If the student does not pass all three selected parts, the student is
required to repeat only the failed portion(s). A majority of students pass all
three parts on the first round, and it is rare for students not to pass the
Qualifying Examination Parts
- General earth science: physical geology, rocks and minerals, geologic
time, paleontology, tectonics, earth history.
- Mineralogy and petrology: crystallography, mineral classification and
chemistry; igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks; environments of rock
- Tectonics: structure of the Earth, crustal deformation and evolution,
volcanoes and earthquakes, mountain systems, plate tectonics.
- Physical geography: meteorology and climatology, soils, hydrology, basic
cartography, geographic information systems, remote sensing.
Return to Earth Science graduate degree.
update April 2011.