The following requirements are applicable to the M.A. or M.S. degree with thesis. They are applicable also to students pursuing the M.S. degree non-thesis option, except that 37 credit hours of graduate coursework are required and one expanded research paper must be submitted in lieu of the thesis. All candidates must pass the comprehensive examination consisting of an oral defense of the thesis document.
Minimum of 25 credit hours, with at least 13 at the 700 level
Please see the listing of courses below which fall into each of these three categories. The content of GEOG 510 will determine the cluster in which it belongs. Students cannot use GEOG 595, GEOG 705, GEOG 706 and GEOG 805 to fulfill course cluster requirements for the Master’s degree.
The Department offers opportunities for students to work in a wide range of systematic, technical, and regional areas, as indicated by faculty interest and expertise. Each student will be assigned an interim advisor who will provide guidance on the initial selection of courses, but students should select a permanent advisor during their first semester of residence in the Department.
Students who enter the M.S. program are expected to complete a majority of their coursework credit hours in physical geography/environmental science and/or GIScience courses. Master’s students must have an approved Master’s Program of Study (M-POS) form within 12 months of initial enrollment. All courses appearing on the M-POS must have a grade of B or better.
There are two options for this degree: (1) Thesis Option (30 credit hours) and (2) Non-Thesis Option (36 credit hours).
A. Thesis Option (30 credit hours)
I. GEOG 801 (3 credit hours). II. A graduate-level (500-level or above) techniques or methods course with GEOG designator selected with advisor approval (3 credit hours). III. Twenty-four (24) additional credit hours with the following stipulations:
Students will publicly defend their proposal prior to the completion of the third regular semester. During preparation of the thesis, any student who wishes to use University facilities or to confer with faculty must be enrolled in GEOG 799. Students will publicly defend their thesis research.
B. Non-Thesis Option (36 credit hours)
Students must declare their intention to pursue the non-thesis option no later than the end of the student’s third regular semester. Students choosing this option should have an advisor and a second reader for the research paper. The advisor and second reader must be faculty within the Geography Department. Either may be a regular, associate, or term graduate faculty member.
I. GEOG 801 (3 credit hours). II. A graduate-level (500-level or above) techniques or methods course with GEOG designator selected with advisor approval (3 credit hours). III. Thirty (30) additional credit hours with the following stipulations:
2. Research Paper
An extended research paper is written under the guidance the student’s advisor. The completed paper will be submitted a minimum of six weeks prior to the Graduate School’s “Final Submission Deadline” to the student’s advisor and a second reader. Prior to the Graduate School’s “Final Submission Deadline,” the student must orally present their research paper to their advisor and second reader. The advisor and second reader will evaluate the research paper as “Pass,” “Conditional Pass,” or “Fail.” The student will have two weeks to complete remediation if a “Conditional Pass” or “Fail” is given. The remediated work will be evaluated as “Pass” or “Fail” within two weeks. Students only have one opportunity to remediate. The committee must assign a “Pass” to the paper for the student to pass the comprehensive assessment.
Remaining Bulletin Text:
The minimum residence requirement for the Master’s degree is two regular semesters of approximately 16 weeks each or the equivalent in summer sessions. Three to six semester hours of work in a five-week summer session constitute a full load; nine to twelve hours of course work constitutes a full load in a regular session. The department considers six-thesis credit hours per semester to be a full load. Students on assistantships are expected to be enrolled for a minimum of nine hours of course work during the semester they hold the assistantship.
Six years is the maximum time allowed for completion of the Master’s degree. If more than six years are spent in the program, Special arrangements must be made with the Graduate School to revalidate credits in courses taken. Comprehensive examinations are valid for two years prior to completion of all degree requirements. Students who do not complete the program within the six year period become subject to changes in degree requirements adopted up to a date six years prior to his/her completion of the program.
As soon as possible, normally following the second full semester of coursework, the candidate who follows the thesis option begins the thesis phase of the program. The student’s advisor serves as thesis director and, in consultation with the student, selects the second and third members of the Thesis Committee.
The student then submits a formal thesis proposal to the committee prior to the defense date. The proposal includes the topic to be investigated, the purpose of the study, the research design; and familiarity with literature in the area. At the proposal defense, the student, with agreement from the committee, may request either the traditional or manuscript style thesis. The request for a manuscript style thesis shall include the journal name and brief justification explaining the journal selection. Students seeking the manuscript option shall discuss their intentions with their advisor prior to the thesis proposal defense.
Students are encouraged to complete their thesis proposals as early as possible. Students are not allowed to register for GEOG 799 without the committee approval of a thesis proposal. Any student on assistantship who has not had the proposal accepted but the end of the third semester (or semester in which 25 hours of coursework are completed, if student had been part-time at some point) is not eligible for further funding by the Department. Thesis committees normally do not meet during the periods between semesters or sessions, nor during the first or last week of any semester or session. The student, therefore, should bear in mind that failure to submit an acceptable proposal well in advance of the end of a semester may lead to a serious delay in obtaining committee approval of the thesis proposal.
Theses must follow the formats defined by the Graduate School (http://gradschool.sc.edu/thesisdissertation/format.asp). The manuscript style thesis will be composed of at least one manuscript. The content of the manuscript is as typical for submission to the refereed journal article (identified in the proposal) and formatted (i.e. abstract, List of tables/illustrations, page numbering) as defined by the Graduate School. The formal requirements include required chapters in the table of contents where these ‘chapters’ may be sections of the manuscript. The student must be first author on any manuscript(s) in the thesis. A manuscript style thesis may include additional chapters (e.g. expanded literature review or appendices).
The thesis is distributed to the committee members at least two weeks (three weeks for the manuscript style) before the scheduled defense and is available for public review in the department office at least one week prior to the defense.
A public defense of the thesis is required before final committee approval and it must be held at least 30 days prior to graduation. Deadlines for the deposit of approved theses at the Graduate School arc subject to University regulations, and students should consult the published University academic calendar for such deadlines. To graduate during a given semester, it is necessary for a first draft to be submitted to the thesis committee no later than about the mid-point of that semester.
The M.S. degree is awarded when the student’s program of study includes a majority of course work in the technical and physical/environmental areas of discipline. The M.A. is awarded when the student’s program of study consists of a majority of course work in human geography or regional analysis.
A student must demonstrate satisfactory academic progress at the end of each semester and maintain a minimal “B” average in all courses and a “8” average in courses at the 700 level and above. Any student who receives less than a “B” in a graduate course will be on probation for the next semester. See the Graduate Program Director for a more detailed document on the minimum expectations for maintaining satisfactory progress. Financial assistance is terminated or reduced for a student who is on probation or who is not progressing satisfactorily. During the preparation of the thesis any student who wishes to use University facilities or to confer with the faculty must be enrolled officially in GEOG 799.
A serious or repeated failure to make satisfactory academic progress will result in a student being terminated from the master’s program. The student should become familiar with the criteria that determine whether satisfactory progress is being made and whether a student should be placed on probation as they are detailed in the document titled Minimum Expectations for Maintaining Satisfactory Progress in the Masters Program. A student will be notified of termination, in writing, prior to the beginning of classes for a semester.Listed below arc the more likely causes for termination:
**The old language should be deleted entirely and not replaced. It is found above, in the Graduate Handbook, or in the general Bulletin**
This program change addresses several department- and university-level concerns:
1) We codify the requirements for the non-thesis degree option.
2) We decreased the CH minimum by one (from 31 to 30 for thesis option and 37 to 36 for non-thesis option). We removed the requirement for students to take GEOG 740, which is a MS-level 1 CH course. As a department, we feel the students will benefit more from taking GEOG 801 (currentlly on the books and required for PhD students), as it will provide them with an introduction to the entire discipline. This change also places us in-line with our peer aspirant institutions. Furthermore, under the old model, our students were taking 10 CH their second semester, which was overburdening to them (and our department's budget!).
3) Removed the 'breadth' requirement because students will gain this information from GEOG 801. Proposing a new restriction on the number of outside-Geography courses students can take. The students will get the 'breadth' they need by default, it just won't be as prescriptive and will not require the department to keep a list of courses.
4) Revised language of learning outcomes to better reflect the program.
5) The “academic progress” section has been removed and added to the Department Graduate Handbook.
6) Wordsmithing throughout and removal of language that is better placed in the Graduate Handbook or that is found in the Graduate Bulletin.
7) The 'other' program requirements in the old bulletin should be deleted and not replaced. The correct language is in the program requirements, in the Graduate Handbook, or in the general Bulletin.
All changes were reviewed and approved by the faculty.
Administratively returned, see public comments.
This program allows both thesis and non-thesis options. Hence, the introductory sentence appears inappropriate: "The master’s program is a research degree, and students enter the program with the goal of completing a thesis."
All of the language that appears from 1. Thesis down to 1B Non-thesis, has numbering issues, and would be better suited to a Graduate Handbook instead of the Graduate Bulletin. I would suggest removing it, and placing it in a Graduate Handbook.
For comprehensive assessments, there must be both a written and an oral component. This is not clearly stated in the non-thesis option.
The probation language is different from Graduate School regulations. To enforce this policy will require formal contact from the program to implement--not a problem; just wanted to be clear on how that will need to be handled.
One more item, relative to reasons for termination: Students have a right to an advisor when admitted to a program. You cannot dismiss them for not having an advisor--especially not in the non-thesis option. Students are not guaranteed a major professor for either a thesis or dissertation--that is negotiated, and faculty have the right to refuse. This language needs to be modified.
Minor revisions. No BOT, CHE, or SACS notification required
This update will appear in the 2019-20 Graduate Studies Bulletin to be published February 15, 2019.