Where can Applied Geosciences take you?

Eileen Capitoli discovered that Applied Geosciences can take you to Mars and back.

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The Master of Science in Applied Geosciences (MSAG) degree requires the completion of 12 course units (c.u.s) as follows:

Foundation Courses (7 c.u.’s)


One course must be taken in each of the following three Foundation areas


Engineering Geology

Ground Water Hydrology

Concentration Courses (3 c.u.’s)

Students choose three elective courses within their area of professional concentration. The professional concentration courses allow the student to acquire the skills and the critical perspective necessary to pursue the final Project Design exercise. These courses may be chosen from a specific list of courses selected by the Faculty. Students may choose from the following concentrations:

Project Management (1 c.u.)

Whether students plan to work in the consulting field, the government, or go on for a PhD, the skills learned in a Project Management course are useful for the next steps after graduation.

Project Design (1 c.u.)

Toward the end of the program, students undertake the Project Design, a semester-long professional exercise that demonstrates mastery of a particular area of applied geoscience. The subject of this project is related to the professional concentration the student chose and may be selected to complement or further develop a student’s work-related interests. The Project Design documents the student’s ability to:

  • Identify a geotechnical, hydrologic, or environmental problem or issue that would be encountered in professional practice
  • Design a protocol to address this question
  • Acquire the data necessary to clarify, if not resolve, the question
  • Critically assess the quality of the data acquired
  • Draw defensible conclusions from those data
  • Communicate this process and conclusions to professional colleagues with clarity and precision

Each student in the MSAG program will work with a faculty advisor who will act as supervisor for the student’s thesis research. These faculty are drawn from the Department of Earth & Environmental Science and members of the Institute for Environmental Studies at Penn.

Field Opportunities

Field trips and site visits are incorporated within the curriculum. Students in the program also have access to other earth science research projects within the Department of Earth & Environmental Science, which require field participation and training.

Comprehensive Course List

Time Frame

Admitted students may attend on either a part-time or full-time basis. Full-time students can complete the program in two years, including summers. Part-time students must complete their work in no more than four years.


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