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Coterminal B.S. and M.S. Degrees in Earth Systems

The Stanford coterminal degree enables an undergraduate to embark on an integrated program of study leading to the master's degree before requirements for the bachelor's degree have been completed. Undergraduates with a minimum 3.4 Stanford GPA may apply to work simultaneously toward B.S. and M.S. degrees. The M.S. degree in Earth Systems provides the student with enhanced tools to evaluate the primary literature of the discipline most closely associated with the student's track and allows an increased specialization through additional course work that may include 9 units of thesis research. Integration of earth systems concepts is furthered by participation in EARTHSYS 290, the Master's Seminar.

To apply, complete and return to the Earth Systems office an application that includes:

Applications must be submitted by the quarter preceding the anticipated quarter of graduation. An application fee is assessed by the Registrar's Office for coterminal applications.

Students may either:

  1. complete 180 units required for the B.S. degree and then complete the three quarters required for the M.S. degree
  2. or, complete a total of 15 quarters during which the requirements of the two degrees are fulfilled concurrently.

The student has the option of receiving the B.S. degree after completing that degree's requirements or receiving two degrees concurrently at the end of the master's program.

It is both assumed and required that all students applying for the Earth Systems coterminal MS degree (irrespective of the undergraduate major) will have met the BS degree requirements for Earth Systems.

These specific requirements must be fulfilled to receive an M.S. degree:

  1. A minimum of 45 units of course work and/or research credit (upon approval). It is expected that the majority of the student's course work will be at the 200-level or above.
  2. Participation in the Master's Seminar (EARTHSYS 290).

The student must devise a program of study that shows a level of specialization appropriate to the master's level, as determined in consultation with the adviser and the Associate Director, Academics. Students applying from an undergraduate major other than Earth Systems should meet with Julie Kennedy, Deana Fabbro-Johnston, or Emily Burns to learn more about the Earth Systems MS degree program.

With the adviser's approval, up to 9 units may be in the form of research. This may culminate in the preparation of a master's thesis; however, a thesis is not required for the degree.

University requirements for the coterminal M.S. are described in the "Coterminal Bachelor's and Master's Degrees" section of this bulletin. For University coterminal degree program rules and University application forms, see

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