Graduate students interested in studying geomorphology usually need to pursue a master's or doctoral degree in geography or another geoscience-related area and then focus their coursework and/or research in areas of geomorphology. These degree programs go by many names, but usually require an original thesis or dissertation, depending on the degree level. Compare and contrast the master's and doctoral level degree options below.
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Graduate Degrees in Geomorphology
Master of Science in Applied Geomorphology/Geography
At the master's level, students have several degree options that allow for further focused study and/or research in the field of geomorphology, including a Masters in Earth and Space Sciences, Applied Geosciences, Master of Science (MS) in Applied Geomorphology or MS in Geography and Environmental Engineering. Typically, within these degree programs are opportunities to work with research groups and faculty members that focus on geomorphology and various areas within that field, such as fluvial geomorphology, climatic geomorphology or tectonic geomorphology.
Students in these programs may take courses in topics such as geomorphology, soils geomorphology, GIS programming, environmental modeling, cartography and climatology. Graduates of these degree programs may pursue more advanced education or find work in planning organizations, government research or regulatory agencies, environmental consulting firms and more. Programs range from about 30-36 credits; most require a master's thesis or research project.
Doctor of Philosophy in Geography
Similar to the master's degree programs, students at the doctoral level can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Geography, Geography and Environmental Engineering or Earth and Space Sciences and focus their research in the area of geomorphology. Students in these degree programs typically need to complete qualifying and/or other comprehensive exams and a dissertation. Some programs may expect students to be completed with their degree in 6 years or less.
Coursework at the doctoral level is usually very flexible to allow students to pick and choose courses that align with their research interests, but students may take geography-based courses in topics like scientific communication, research, advanced field study, GIS, development theory and geomorphology of particular locations, such as a specific state. Graduates of these programs may go on to pursue advanced careers in research, higher education and other organizations similar to graduates of the master's programs.
Common Entrance Requirements
Although application requirements vary based on the specific degree program and school, most master's and doctoral degree programs in the field of geography and geomorphology require students to have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of these programs may require a minimum GPA around a 3.0 and some programs require the GRE, while others do not. Prospective doctoral students usually need to contact faculty members to find potential advisors before applying to the program. Applicants may need to include items such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, resume or CV, personal statement and/or writing sample with their application, depending on the specific program.
Geomorphology is usually offered as a research area for research-based master's and doctoral degree programs in the field of geography. These programs typically require a final paper or project and prepare students for careers in research, consulting and more.