The M.S. Degree in Geology
at TCU

The M.S. Degree in Geology at TCU

The Program;
The geology program is part of the School of Geology, Energy, and the Environment. One of the options for students within this school is the pursuit of a traditional Master’s degree in geology. A Master’s degree is the terminal degree that we offer and, at this point, we do not have a Ph.D. Program. The geology program currently consists of 11 faculty, 20 graduate students, and 50 undergraduates. Our current strengths are in Structural Geology and Tectonics, Sedimentary geology, Petroleum geology, Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology, Geomorphology, Meteoritics and Planetary Geology, Paleontology and GIS. 

If you are interested in finding out what our students have recently done, please check the following website for TCU geology theses information: 

We offer 4 to 5 graduate courses every semester. Most students find classes that meet their interests. Typical class sizes at the graduate level are between 5 and 10 students, although the more popular classes (many of the petroleum-related classes) may have as many as 24 students as these are often offered at the junior/senior and graduate level.

We expect our students to have a general interest in geology where different subfields within geology are attractive as potential research areas. Most students complete projects that are more-or-less local with easily accessible field areas in Texas or Oklahoma. In the past, students have also worked in Scotland, southern Africa, Peru, the Baja Peninsula and the Sierra Nevada in California. A number of students are completing studies without a field component where they are conducting subsurface studies (structural and stratigraphic). In addition, we have students working on projects in meteoritics, sequence stratigraphy, fluvial geomorphology, physical volcanology, paleontology, and carbonate petrology.

Research Facilities:
The Energy Institute ( and the Institute for Environmental Studies ( are part of the School of Geology, Energy, and the Environment. The Shale Core Facility is part of the Energy Institute and houses several miles of shale core that is used for industry examination and student/faculty research. Furthermore, the school houses the Monnig Meteorite Gallery (, which is one of the finest private meteorite collections in the country and provides unique opportunities for students interested in meteorites and geochemistry. We also have extensive mineralogical and paleontological collections. The Center for GIS and Remote Sensing ( provides a venue for instructing students and area professionals in the use of ESRI’s ArcGIS (and its extensions) and other GIS software. The Center houses computer and GPS units and we provide GIS training on Windows and Mac platforms.
In addition we have extensive networked computing facilities, including scanners, digitizers and plotters; complete remote sensing facilities with computer workstations and image processing/GIS software; scanning electron microscope; environmental chemistry lab with absorption spectrophotometer and mercury analysis system; lab and field equipment for surface and groundwater hydrologic modeling and simulation; research microscopes with cathodoluminescence and fluid-inclusion stages; GPR for shallow subsurface research; wet and dry sediment lab; rock preparation lab.

Program Requirements:
With respect to our general program requirements, we expect an overall undergraduate GPA >3.0 and GRE score of >300 (Verbal & Quantitative on the new GRE scoring system) or >1000 according to the old scoring system. We will also evaluate the GPA of the last 60 hours taken and the geology GPA. We require a number of basic courses that every student must have taken before enrolling at TCU. The courses include:

Geology courses

Associated science courses:

Application Process:
Applications are generally completed online and more detailed application information can be found at:

Any application should be accompanied by the following:

International students must also provide the following:

All materials including letters of reference should be send to the following address:
            College of Science and Engineering
            Attn: Graduate Studies
            TCU Box 298960
            Fort Worth, Texas 76129


Application Deadline:
For full consideration for a fall admission, we must receive the complete application by February 1st.. We will make decisions on admission and teaching assistantships soon thereafter. We will still consider applications after that date, but even qualified applicants may be turned down, if we have reached the number of graduate students that we think we can handle.

Only in rare cases do we consider applications for the Spring semester. Most of the time we will not have any funding available for students wanting to start in the spring.

Program Details:
Most graduate students plan to complete their degrees in 4 semesters (2 years), which is feasible for full-time students. Most classes are held during the day. However, we are trying to offer at least one or two evening classes per semester.

All students in the program must complete a Master’s thesis as part of their degree requirements. We have money available (up to $3000.-) for all graduate students (regardless of whether the student holds a Teaching Assistantship or not) to defray costs for thesis research. Please see for information about geology theses completed in our program.

Graduate students must complete 30 credit hours in order to graduate and, a credit hour at TCU during the current academic year (Fall 2012/Spring 2013) costs $1200.-. The 30 hours are a mix of class work and more independent work and more information about general graduate requirements can be found at: Based on the cost per credit hour the total tuition cost at TCU is currently $16,875 per academic year. However, this does not include the cost-of-living expenses.

Teaching Assistantships:
Tuition and fees are waived for those students who receive full financial support in the form of teaching assistantships, which is the only form of financial support that we offer. These positions are competitive and currently seven of our graduate students receive financial support in the form of teaching assistantships. Teaching assistant positions are for a total of two years (4 semesters) and include a full tuition waiver and a $15,000.- per year stipend Receiving financial aid usually means teaching 3 introductory lab classes in the afternoons to non-science majors.

Other Information:
Aside from being successful in finding jobs after graduation, most of our students also have great success in finding part-time or internship positions at local oil and gas companies during the regular school year and the summer. 

Other important links:
Graduate information for the College of Science and Engineering is at:
The application can also be filled online at:


In addition to the brief faculty summaries below, you may see more about the faculty on the Faculty page.

If you would like more information about the graduate program in geology at TCU please contact:

Dr. Helge Alsleben
Graduate Advisor
School of Geology, Energy, and the Environment
Box 298830
Texas Christian University
Fort Worth, Texas 76129
TEL: (817) 257-7270
FAX: (817) 257-7789

Graduate Courses Include

50233 Optical Mineralogy and Petrography. Prerequisites: GEOL 3223 or permission of instructor Two hours of lecture and one three hour laboratory period per week. Analysis of the behavior of light in crystalline substances, complete treatment of crystal optics and the identification of non-opaque, rock-forming minerals using immersion media and thin section techniques. Intensive use of the microscope required.

50251 Scanning Electron Microscopy. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture per week for five weeks. Use of the SEM in geological applications.

50331 Basic Seismics. Prerequisites: GEOL 30423 and GEOL 40223. Three hours of lecture per week for five weeks. An introduction to techniques of gathering, processing and interpreting seismic data.

50341 Interpreting Seismic Data. Prerequisites: GEOL 5331 or equivalent. Three hours of laboratory per week for five weeks. A Practicum in interpreting seismic data.

50351 Seismic Stratigraphy. Prerequisites: GEOL 50331 or equivalent. Three hours of lecture per week for five weeks. An introduction to the principles of seismic stratigraphy and their application in oil and gas exploration.

50361 Basic Well Log interpretation. Perquisite: GEOL 40223. Three hours of lecture per week for five weeks. An introduction to the use of borehole geophysical logs in formation evaluation, correlation and subsurface facies analysis.

50413 Global Tectonics and Basin Analysis. Three hours of lecture per week. Explores the relationship between plate motion and the evolution of sedimentary basins.

50423 Petroleum Geology. Origin, migration and entrapment of hydrocarbons, exploration and production techniques used in the petroleum industry.

50493 Physical Hydrology. Prerequisite Geol 10113 and Math 10524. Two hours of lecture and two hours of laboratory per week. Designed to introduce upper-undergraduate/first-year-graduate students in earth sciences and natural resources to the study of hydrologic science. Provides a comprehensive treatment of modern conceptual and methodological approaches to answering hydrologic questions by combining (1) a qualitative, conceptual understanding of hydrologic processes; (2) an introduction to the quantitative representation of those processes; and (3) an understanding of approaches to hydrologic measurements and the uncertainties involved in those measurements.

50543 Sedimentary Environment and Facies. Three hours of lecture per week. Facies analysis and facies models applied to the problem of interpreting stratigraphic sequences and reconstructing paleogeography.

50602 Preparation of Environmental Impact Statements. Two laboratory periods per week. The methodology of environmental impact statement preparation from initial collection of data to final report drafting is covered. The course offers problem-oriented exercises where students are trained to take the initiative in EIS preparation. (Also offered as Biology 5602).

50603 Introduction to Geochemistry. Prerequisite: GEOL 3023, CHEM 10114-10124 or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture per week. Application of basic chemical principles to understanding the origin, distribution and migration of chemical elements in the earth's lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere.

50613 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology. Prerequisite: GEOL 50233. Two hours of lecture and one three hour laboratory period per week. Petrogenesis of igneous and metamorphic rocks based on field, petrographic, chemical and isotopic data. Inferences on the evolution and dynamics of the crust and mantle. Involves use of microscope.

50623 Volcanology. Prerequisites: GEOL 50233. Two hours of lecture and one three hour laboratory period per week. Types and processes of volcanic eruptions; characteristics of modern volcanic products; recognition and significance of ancient volcanic deposits in the stratigraphic record. Involves use of microscope. Field trip required.

05712 Environmental Geology. Prerequisites: GEOL 10413; GEOL 30223 recommended. Three hours of lecture per week for ten weeks. Geologic processes, earth resources and engineering properties of crustal materials in the activities of society.

50721 Geographic Information Systems. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture per week for five weeks. An introduction to computer systems for creating and managing large data bases and to techniques for displaying ind interpreting layered environmental geologic data.

50731 Remote Sensing Technology. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture per week for five weeks. An introduction to the technology used in remote sensing, including MSS, TM and SPOT, thermal scanners and radar imaging.

50741 Image Processing. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture per week for five weeks. An introduction to processing techniques used to enhance the display of remote sensing images with emphasis on those techniques useful in resource mapping.

50751 Image Interpretation. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture per week for five weeks. Geologic and resource mapping and environmental monitoring using satellite images.

50773 Introduction to Environmental Law. Prerequisite: Enrollment in Environmental Sciences, Master of Sciences program or senior with appropriate major (biology, geology, chemistry or other sciences; engineering; pre-law; business management. Three hours of lecture per week. Introduction to and analysis of selected federal statutes regulating environmental degredation and environmental clean-up, including National Environmental Policy Act and regulation of air quality, water quality, wastes, hazardous and toxic substances and enforcement.

50783 Environmental Chemistry. Prerequisites: GEOL 10413 or GEOL 10113, CHEM 10114-10124 or permission of the instructor. Three hours of lecture per week. Chemistry of water soil energy, and air as related to environmental problems. Subjects include: nutrients and eutrophication, fluorocarbons, sulfur and nitrogen oxides, Eh-pH relationship, natural carbonate reactions, and cation exchange phenomena.

50883 Introduction to Environmental Engineering Technology. Introduction to fundamentals of pollution control technology; impact of federal and state legislation on the construction, modification and control of industrial plants. Other topics include hazardous pollutants, modification to ambient quality, and basic pollution modeling. (Also sited as Biology.)

50901 Computer applications in Geology. Prerequisites: COSC 10403 or equivalent. Three hours of lecture per week for five weeks. The use of microcomputers in Geology.

50912 Statistical applications for microcomputers. Prerequisite Geol 50901. Three hours of lecture per week for ten weeks. Statistical treatment of directional data and the use of multivariate and special regression techniques analysis of variance, discriminate function analysis and factor analysis in solving geologic problems.

50922 Mapping applications for Microcomputers. Prerequisite: GEOL 50901. Three hours of lecture per week for ten weeks. Selecting and using mapping and drafting software.

60213 Environmental Analysis. Two hours of lecture and one laboratory period per week. Techniques of analysis usingX-ray, atomic absorption, differential thermal, infrared absorption, chromatography and liquid scintillation.

60413 Advanced Map Interpretation. Three hours lecture per week. Techniques used in the analysis of geological structures.

60513 Carbonate Petrology. Two hours lecture and one laboratory period per week. An examination of the chemical sedimentary rocks: limestones, dolomites, evaporites, chert, ironstones and phosphates, including their classification, genesis and diagenesis. The course has a large component of laboratory and fieldwork.

60523 Sandstone Petrology. Two hours lecture and one laboratory period per week. Study of provenance, diagensis and classifcaiton of standstone using the petrographic microscope; consideration of the relationship between tectonics and sedimentation, especially sandstone composition.

60710 Geology Seminar. Formal presentation and discussion of controversial topics with emphasis on geologic principals involved.

70980 Thesis

70970 Thesis. Continuation of 70980.

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Last updated January 13, 2015
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