Earth Systems and Geoinformation Sciences
- Course Work
- Graduate Programs
Professors:Di, Kafatos, Summers, Taylor, Wong (chair)
Associate professors: Beach, Boybeyi, Chiu, R. Yang
Assistant professor: Qu, C. Yang
Senior contract professor: Wood
Research professors: Gomez, Kwiatkowski, Murphy, Roper, W. Yang
Research associate professors: Amitai, Ji
This department offers all course work designated EOS in the “Course Descriptions” chapter of this catalog.
Earth Systems Science, MS
This interdisciplinary master’s program is offered jointly by the Earth Systems and Geoinformation Department, the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, and the Department of Geography. The program addresses the growing demand for trained professionals in Earth systems science and applications. The degree emphasizes a research oriented, global systems approach to studying the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere, including their interrelationships and interactions with the biosphere. Emphasis is on the observation and quantitative analysis of Earth systems. Students completing the program are qualified to pursue careers that require knowledge of the basics of Earth systems science and the requisite tools. Students are encouraged to undertake either an optional master’s thesis for more in-depth studies, or a research project. In the latter case, students must pass a qualifying exam.
Applicants should have a BS degree in Earth, environmental, or physical science. Previous course work should include two semesters each of calculus, chemistry, and physics, and one semester of statistics. They should have a minimum GPA of 3.00 in their undergraduate degree. To apply, prospective students should forward a completed Mason graduate application, two copies of official transcripts from each college and graduate institution attended, a current resume, and an expanded goals statement to the COS Graduate Admissions Processing Center. Applicants should also include three letters of recommendation, and an official report of scores obtained on the GRE-GEN exam. The GRE-SUB is recommended if it is given in the student’s undergraduate major. The GRE requirement will be waived if the student holds a master’s degree from a U.S. institution. TOEFL scores are required for all foreign applicants.
Candidates must successfully complete 30 credits as follows:
- 9 credits of Earth science core: CSI 655; EOS 656 and 657
- 3 credits of Earth observation courses: EOS 753 or GEOG 579
- 3 credits of quantitative techniques courses: EOS 754 or GEOG 585
- 3 credits of human and biological perspectives courses: one of EOS 704; EOS 721; EVPP 577, 636; GEOG 575, 670
- 3 credits of colloquium or seminar: EOS 792 and EOS 900
- 3-6 credits of research: CEOS 798 or 799
- General electives
Graduate Certificate in Remote Sensing and Earth Image Processing
The RSEIP program focuses on the skills needed to take advantage of the enormous increase in the availability and utilization of remotely sensed data related to the Earth. The certificate requires students to complete 15 credits of EOS graduate courses. Ideal candidates for this certificate are those who have a background in Earth and environmental sciences, and are either working in or planning to enter into the field of remote sensing, Earth observing, or image processing.
The RSEIP certificate program is a professional certification program that charges students at a differential (premium) tuition rate, with an additional $100 per credit added to the standard Mason graduate tuition rate for students who enroll in this certificate program, regardless of in-state or out-of-state status. The differential tuition will be used to fund continuing improvements in the departmental computational facilities used to support the certificate program.
Applicants should hold a BA or BS degree in a discipline related to the science and applications of remote sensing from an accredited university, with a minimum GPA of 3.00. Applicants should have some prior education or training in remote sensing or image processing. Students with a background in one of the physical sciences (physics, chemistry, atmospheric science, hydrology, or geology), geography, or environmental science will be particularly well-suited to undertake this program. Applicants should have an undergraduate background that includes courses in differential and integral calculus, and they should possess working knowledge of a computer programming language. To apply, prospective students should forward a completed Mason graduate application, two copies of official transcripts from each college and graduate institution attended, and a current resume to the COS Graduate Admissions Processing Center. TOEFL scores are required for all international applicants.
Earth Systems and Geoinformation Sciences, PhD
The innovative ESGS program is based on the integration of the scientific disciplines in geosystems, geosciences, and geography, with the two slightly more technology oriented scientific disciplines in geoinformation sciences, remote sensing, and GIS. Graduates from the ESGS doctoral program will be qualified to serve as lead scientists in a wide range of activities involving geosciences, geography, geographic information systems, and remote sensing. The continual expansion of the NASA Earth observation satellite constellation, the development and expansion of the geospatial data infrastructure at federal agencies, and the need to analyze these Earth-oriented data to achieve environmental and economic objectives ensure a constant need in the foreseeable future for qualified scientists in these fields. Students receive broad-based training in the geosciences and geography as well as concentrated courses in computation and geoinformation sciences. The ESGS doctoral program represents a gateway to an academic career for some students; for others, it facilitates career advancement in either the public sector or private industry. Graduates are equipped to participate in interdisciplinary research, which is the norm in today’s research arena. In addition, students also receive training in teaching, qualifying them to join academic units in more traditional disciplinary and instruction-oriented settings or in multidisciplinary programs.
This program is intended for graduates who hold a BS or BA degree in atmospheric science, climatology, meteorology, Earth science, geology, environmental science, remote sensing and Earth observing, hydrology, oceanography, geography, or related field, with a minimum GPA of 3.00. Applicants should have knowledge of calculus, and working proficiency with a computer programming language. Knowledge of mathematics through ordinary differential equations is preferred. Interested applicants should contact the academic coordinator or the ESGS chair for more specific advice. To apply, prospective students should forward a completed Mason graduate application, two copies of official transcripts from each college and graduate institution attended, a current resume, and an expanded goals statement to the COS Fairfax Campus Graduate Admissions Processing Center. Applicants should also include three letters of recommendation, and an official report of scores obtained on the GRE-GEN exam. The GRE-SUB is recommended if it is given in the student’s undergraduate major. The GRE requirement for admission to the doctoral programs will be waived if the student holds a master’s degree from a U.S. institution. TOEFL scores are required for all international applicants.
The curriculum consists of 72 credits: 48 credits of course work, and 24 credits of dissertation research. The 48-credit requirement may be reduced by up to 30 credits for a qualified student holding a previous master’s degree. Up to 24 credits of previous, relevant graduate course work may be transferred into the program as long as those credits have not been applied toward a previous degree. The curriculum is organized into the four concentrations listed below:
- Geosciences (GSC)
- Geography (GEOG)
- Remote Sensing and Earth Observation (RS)
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Students may select one of the four concentrations listed above, or they may opt to develop a curriculum that combines elements from two or more concentrations, subject to approval by the program director.
All students are required to select courses from a set of three core areas: computational, geosciences-geography, and geoinformation. Additional requirements include courses in the concentration, a single credit of colloquium taken three times, and electives relevant to the student’s focus. In recognition of the diverse interests in this scientific area, students are given considerable flexibility to construct their curriculum, under the guidance of a faculty advisor. To provide the desired level of flexibility and encourage interdisciplinary education and research, the following seven program elements are required:
- 6 credits of computational core courses
- 9 credits of geosciences-geography core courses
- 6 credits of geoinformation sciences core courses
- 6 credits of concentration courses
- 3 credits of colloquium (1 credit, taken three times)
- 18 credits of electives
- 24 credits of dissertation research
For a complete list of the various courses in each category, go to www.cos.gmu.edu.
All students will be assigned a temporary academic advisor when they first enroll in the program. No later than the end of the second year, each student should identify a dissertation advisor and form a doctoral committee. After completing all required courses, each student must take a candidacy exam administered by the dissertation committee. The exam will have written and oral components. Its purpose is to determine whether the student has acquired adequate general knowledge in the selected subject area, as well as much more detailed knowledge of the specific research topic planned for the dissertation. After students have completed all required courses and passed the candidacy exam, they should prepare an acceptable dissertation proposal. After the dissertation proposal is approved, the student is formally advanced to doctoral candidacy. The degree will be awarded upon completion of the required course work, and approval of a PhD thesis that makes an original and significant contribution to the field.