Employers in the field of geoenvironmental sciences increasingly recognize the need for broadly trained environmental scientists who can bridge the gap between the social science (geography, planning, land use) and physical science (geology, hydrology, climatology, geomorphology) aspects of natural systems. To this end, the master’s program in geoenvironmental studies is designed to produce broadly trained scientists with a holistic understanding of the environment, with an emphasis on geotechnology (GIS and GPS) and practical experience like field research and internships.
Shippensburg University designed its Master of Science degree in geoenvironmental studies to provide scientists, planners, researchers, and educators with skills in four areas of emphasis:
- A broad understanding of the environment
- Technical and managerial skills needed to solve environmental problems
- Experience with geotechnology (GIS, GPS, and related field techniques)
- Practical field experience
The Department of Geography-Earth Science is well equipped with facilities including two GIS-oriented computer laboratories, a faculty/student research laboratory, soils laboratory, rock and mineral laboratory, climatological, and micrometeorological station, and air photo and map library. There is a wide range of field equipment and instrumentation including a total station and global positioning systems for topographic remote sensing, geologic, land use, meteorologic, hydrologic, soil, and subsurface surveys.
You can access geographic data services, work with aerial photographs and satellite images, and make professional- quality maps. Other equipment includes Trimble GPS receivers and software, color printers and a large format plotter.
Shippensburg University's campus is ideally located for fieldwork and internships related to geoenvironmental studies.
A large number of degree candidates opt for an internship with benefits such as:
- Exposure to the environmental problems and activities of a state or community as seen from the perspective of the agency or organization with which you are placed.
- An introduction to the environmentally related activities and projects of the agency or organization with which you work.
- Application of GIS in the workplace.
- Responsibility for completing a worthwhile project.
- Opportunity to apply geographic and environmental theory, techniques, and knowledge to real-life practices.
- Opportunity to gain professional experience in an applied area of the environment where deficiencies might exist.
- Opportunity to make contacts in the work force.
The high caliber of the work done by Shippensburg interns has enabled the university to establish and maintain internships with such governmental and private agencies as:
- Chesapeake Bay Foundation
- Bucks, Cumberland, & Franklin County planning commissions
- Departments of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) and Environmental Protection (DEP)
- Greenhorne & O'Mora
- National and state parks
- National Audubon Society
- Sierra Club
- U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Agriculture
- Environmental and engineering consulting firms such as Martin & Martin, Skelly & Loy, KCI Technologies, and Gannett Fleming
- National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA)
In some cases, an internship develops into an offer of employment after graduation. This has happened with agencies such as KCI Technologies, Weston and Associates, and the Pennsylvania Departments of Environmental Protection, and Conservation and Natural Resources.
Graduates of the program are at every level of government, teaching at every level of education, and working with many types of consulting firms and industry. They hold positions such as physical scientist, environmental planner, conservationist, city planner, senior hydrogeologist, solid waste planner, GIS manager, and environmental scientist. Others pursue a doctorate in preparation for college teaching or positions in public or private enterprises.
The average salary for geoenvironmental jobs in PA is $73,000.
To be eligible to pursue a Master of Science degree in geoenvironmental studies, you must:
- Have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university
- Present an official transcript showing at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA for your undergraduate studies
- Students with a GPA below a 2.75 must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) prior to admission
- And you must have completed:
- 12 undergraduate credit hours in geography, or
- 12 undergraduate credit hours in earth science, or
- Combined total of 18 undergraduate credit hours in the two fields, or
- 15 undergraduate credit hours in the social sciences (including 6 hours in geography) and 15 undergraduate credit hours in the natural sciences (including 6 hours in the earth sciences).
If you lack the required undergraduate credit hours, you may be granted conditional admission. After you complete the necessary undergraduate credits and have successfully completed 6 hours of graduate study, you will be granted full admission.
You must complete a minimum of 36 hours of graduate work, as follows:
- At least 24 credit hours in geoenvironmental elective courses;
- A 6 credit hour internship or a 6 credit hour thesis (a 3 credit research course is required with the internship option);
- Take a practical written exam after completing 21-27 credits of course work;
- No more than four 400 level classes can be taken for credit.
See the Graduate Catalog for a complete list of courses offered in the program.
To assure that you have the appropriate balance of coursework, you will plan your program in consultation with a member of the geoenvironmental studies graduate faculty. In view of your professional goals, your faculty advisor will help you decide whether you should write a thesis or engage in an internship.
The thesis option is available for those students who plan to continue their education or are interested in developing a research topic. Recent thesis titles have included:
- The Ability of a Spring-Fed Wetland to Lower Nitrate Concentrations in an Agricultural Area
- Floodplain Management Programs in a Tri-State Regional Area: A Comparison of Elements and Implementations
- Population Characterization as a Determinate of Urban Form: A study of Harrisburg Pennsylvania
- Reconstructing the Cultural Landscape of Pennsylvania's Cumberland County: 1765-1775
- Ischemic Heart Disease Mortality and Priority Air Pollution in Pennsylvania
Ship's Department of Geography-Earth Science has a large faculty, which enables it to offer course work and experiences comparable to larger research universities. Because master's students are our only graduate students, we are able to offer individualized attention and mentoring that may not be available at these larger institutions. Our faculty have a rich variety of backgrounds and are widely traveled to virtually every part of the globe. There are plenty of opportunities for graduate research.