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Earth Science Master's without Earth Science Bachelor's?

Indy22Indy22 Registered User Posts: 20 New Member
So I will be a senior this upcoming fall and am seriously considering graduate school. I will have a B.S. in Resource Conservation with a focus in Range Management and Grassland Ecology once I graduate. I currently have a 3.7 GPA and plan on working for a year before graduate school. The problem is that all of the programs that I've looked at for geology, meteorology, or oceanography require physics and calculus which I haven't taken. I took pre-calculus and physics in high school but they were never requirements in college. So far in college, I've taken classes in soils, watershed hydrology, ecology, climate change, and other environmental science classes. If I did well on the GRE could I still make it into an earth science program? If not then I plan on going to law school for environmental law.

Replies to: Earth Science Master's without Earth Science Bachelor's?

  • zannahzannah Registered User Posts: 353 Member
    If a graduate school has the masters program you want and requires calculus and physics, take them before you graduate. While a high GRE is helpful, it will not substitute for required classes. Also, I think you need to think about what you hope to do and decide between a graduate program and law. My guess is you could find a joint program I. Environmental law just as there a joint programs in education and law.
  • bopambobopambo Registered User Posts: 1,221 Senior Member
    My son was applying to geology grad schools a couple of years ago and was missing some of the class prerequisites. He was considering 2 options: first option was to attend an accredited university as a non-degree student after you graduate, and just take the missing classes; second option was to apply and take the missing classes as part of the masters but adding on a semester or two of study, several masters programs he looked at allowed for this.

    It was recommended to him that enrolling as a non-degree student at one of the schools he was interested in for his masters would be a great way to check out the programs and faculty, and I'm sure that would be true, but for him the logistics where too tricky. He would have had to move to a new place, find a job and take classes at his own expense. If you you live near a college where you can take non-degree classes while you work after you graduate, then it would be pretty easy to pick the needed prerequisites.

    He ended up doing the second option, he found a program he liked that would allow him to take the missing classes as part of his masters, it extended his masters program from 2 to 2 1/2 years and he was not offered a TA position until he finished the prereqs. Each masters program makes it's own rules, carefully read the requirements for admission.

  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 11,169 Super Moderator
    second option was to apply and take the missing classes as part of the masters but adding on a semester or two of study, several masters programs he looked at allowed for this.

    Generally speaking, this option is offered only to STRONG candidates who have otherwise really compelling applications but are missing just a few prerequisite classes - enough that you can make up in a semester, typically. And the caveat to this is as bopambo noted, often they make you pay for the additional classes. If you have to pay a flat fee as a master's student, often it can be much cheaper to simply take them as a non-degree student after college.
    The problem is that all of the programs that I've looked at for geology, meteorology, or oceanography require physics and calculus which I haven't taken. I took pre-calculus and physics in high school but they were never requirements in college.So far in college, I've taken classes in soils, watershed hydrology, ecology, climate change, and other environmental science classes. If I did well on the GRE could I still make it into an earth science program?

    It would like depend on the earth sciences program, but the ones that require physics and calculus, likely not. If you haven't taken physics and calculus, it's also very likely that the advanced earth sciences classes you took in college were not the equivalent of what others in an MS in meteorology or oceanography program would've taken - many of those are physics and calculus-based. Being a meteorologist, for example, is a pretty math-heavy job.

    Many programs would allow in students who needed a couple prereqs, but physics and calculus are so integral to the atmospheric sciences that I can't see many programs letting you in if you haven't taken ANY classes in those areas. Physics is a two-semester sequence and calculus is three semesters.

    But there may be other earth sciences programs that are less heavy on the math and physics.
  • warblersrulewarblersrule Super Moderator Posts: 9,317 Super Moderator
    edited June 14
    You should take a year of calculus and then calculus-based physics before you apply. Taking calculus this summer and then physics next year would probably be the best strategy. I strongly recommend taking an intro geology course as well if you haven't yet.

    Geology programs realize that many students come to geology late in their college careers (one PhD student at my university was a music major!) and are therefore flexible about a background in the earth sciences. It's not unusual for MS students to catch up on some of the basics (mineralogy and petrology, historical geology, stratigraphy, structural geology, geomorphology) in their first year. You won't have time to take calc or physics, though, and those are pretty standard requirements for admission.
    Indy22 wrote:
    If not then I plan on going to law school for environmental law.
    Law school is a very expensive enterprise, the job market is tight, and environmental law doesn't pay terribly well. Ponder your options carefully before switching tracks.

    You may want to consider environmental policy or environmental management (MPP/MEM) programs instead, which sometimes offer TAships that help allay the cost of tuition. Your science background would be strong enough, but you'd need to take statistics and microeconomics.
    juillet wrote:
    Many programs would allow in students who needed a couple prereqs, but physics and calculus are so integral to the atmospheric sciences that I can't see many programs letting you in if you haven't taken ANY classes in those areas.
    Yes, atmospheric science and physical oceanography programs are very math-heavy. All require at least calculus, and you should really take differential equations as well.
    Post edited by warblersrule on
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