Department of Earth SciencesWestern Science

Course-Based Masters Program

Western's course-based Master of Science program in geology or geophysics was launched in 2009 and is designed to meet the rapidly-growing demand in industry for highly-trained applied geophysicists and geologists. They are an important component of our Resource Geoscience Western initiative, an endeavor that we are pursuing in collaboration with industry partners, and which places us at the forefront of Earth Sciences in Canada across a broad range of applied Earth Science disciplines.

A comprehensive course-based M.Sc. degree in Geology or in Geophysics can serve as a basis for starting or upgrading a professional career, or it may lead to further studies in a Ph.D. program. Many of the courses offered will help you to obtain necessary university credits for professional accreditation as a Professional Geoscientist. In addition, we offer an ongoing lecture/workshop series led by an Industrial Visiting Professor, and participation in a program of field workshops abroad.


Students in either of the course-based streams will take seven half-courses over two terms (eight months), followed by an intensive four month research project under faculty supervision. The selection of courses for each student will by individualized based on interests and career objectives, in consultation with a faculty advisor. Each stream is designed to be completed in one year, minimizing time away from other commitments. Because the course-based M.Sc. relies more heavily on courses than the conventional M.Sc. thesis-based degree, students from broader educational backgrounds such as Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science or Engineering will be considered. Each of these program streams will enhance the career of earth scientists by providing training that may be needed for industry applications or professional accreditation, or as a stepping stone to further research within a program offering a Ph.D. degree.

Am I eligible?

Applicants are required to be in their final year or have completed an Honours degree in Earth Sciences or any related discipline from an accredited university, and achieved a minimum 75% average in the last two years of study.

What degree will I graduate with?

Master of Science (course-based) in Geology or Master of Science (course-based) in Geophysics.

Do I need to arrange a supervisor beforehand?

Both the course-based M.Sc. Geology and M.Sc. Geophysics programs require a supervisor to be arranged beforehand for any application to be successful. The applicant and potential supervisor are required to have a conversation (in-person, phone or virtual) to discuss a potential research project before a decision to admit the student is made.

Course work and progression

The Course-Based Masters in Geology and the Course-Based Masters in Geophysics are one-year degree programs, each of which is to be completed in three terms. The degree is offered on a full-time basis only. Full-time studies commence in September and finish at the end of August of each year. Students in either of the streams will take seven half-courses over two terms (eight months), followed by an intensive 4-month research project (GL/GP 9590). The program must be completed in one year. Students must successfully complete their research project before their degree is earned.

Required courses for the course-based Masters include the Graduate Seminar (GL/GP 9580A) and a field course, plus five electives chosen by the student in consultation with the department. The course-based Master of Science in Geophysics requires successful completion of the Exploration Geophysics 9509A field course, offered in late August and early September of each year. Offers of admission to the course-based M.Sc. in geophysics are conditional upon arriving at Western in time to complete GP 9509A, and will be withdrawn in the event of a no-show. The course-based Master of Science in Geology requires successful completion of one graduate level field course.

Students are required to achieve a minimum grade of at least 70% calculated each term over all courses taken for credit, with no grade less than 60%. If their grades do not meet these standards the student will not be able to remain in the program.  In the summer term students are required to produce a project report based on their research project that is suitable for a short, publishable journal article; the research project is intended to represent the equivalent of 4 months of full-time work on a project.

Financial Support and Tuition

Tuition is due at the beginning of each of three terms. Tuition amounts are accessible through the Office of the Registrar. Tuition rates are subject to change each year. Students enrolled in the Course-Based Masters streams are self-funded, and not eligible for regular financial support from the university.

How do I apply?

Graduate school applications must be completed on-line. Access to the on-line application from this site or the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies site will coincide with the commencement of the application period. In addition to the on-line application, candidates are required to provide supporting documentation. All supporting documentation must be provided before an application is considered complete. Incomplete applications will not be assessed.