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Coterminal Masters Program

Students visit a wind farm on a class field trip

The Stanford coterminal degree plan 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 majoring in Earth Systems, or a related field, may apply to work simultaneously toward their Bachelor’s of Science (B.S.) degree and Master’s degree in Earth Systems. Earth Systems offers a coterminal MS degree and a coterminal MA degree in Environmental Communication. The M.S. degree in Earth Systems allows increased specialization through additional course work that may include up to nine units of research with the master’s adviser. This may culminate in the preparation of a M.S. thesis; however, a thesis is not required for the degree. The MA degree provides an overview of the theory, techniques, and challenges of communicating environmental concepts to non-specialist audiences and includes hands-on experience with different modalities of communication, principally writing, multimedia production, and education. The process of building mastery in your field is enriched through steady communication with a faculty advisor. All coterminal Master's students are required to take the capstone course, EARTHSYS 290 Master's Seminar.

Application and Admission

Check with program staff for application deadline. A $125 application fee will be assessed by the Registrar's office for those accepted and matriculated into the program. To apply, complete and return the following to Kristin Tewksbury, Y2E2 Rm. 127 (ktewks@stanford.edu):

  • The Stanford coterminal application
  • A statement of purpose
  • A resume
  • A current Stanford unofficial transcript
  • Two letters of recommendation, one of which must be from the M.S. adviser (who must be an Academic Council member)
  • A list of courses that fulfill degree requirements signed by the M.S. adviser and the Director of Earth Systems
  1. Applications must be submitted no later than the quarter prior to
    the expected completion of the B.S. degree (check with program office
    for specific application deadline). An application fee is assessed by
    the Registrar's Office for coterminal applications, once students are
    matriculated into the program.
  2. Students applying to the coterminal M.S. program must have
    completed a minimum of 120 units toward graduation with a minimum
    overall Stanford GPA of 3.4.
  3. All applicants must devise a program of study that shows a level of
    specialization appropriate to the master's level, as determined in
    consultation with the M.S. adviser and the Director of Earth Systems.
  4. Students applying from an undergraduate major other than Earth
    Systems should review their undergraduate course list with Richard Nevle, Deana Fabbro-Johnston, or Julie Kennedy.
  5. The student has the option of receiving the B.S. degree after
    completing that degree's requirements or receiving the B.S. and M.S.
    degrees concurrently at the completion of the M.S. program.

Degree Requirements

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

  • A minimum of 45 units of course work and/or research credit (upon approval).
  • At least 34 units of the student's course work for the M.S. must be at the 200-level or above.
  • All remaining course work must be at the 100-level or above.
  • All courses for the M.S. degree must be taken for a letter grade;
    courses not taken for a letter grade must be approved by the M.S.
    adviser and Director of Earth Systems.
  • A minimum overall GPA of 3.4 must be maintained.
  • Please see the Stanford Bulletin for a list of courses that must be taken if not completed in your
    undergraduate degree program (these may not be counted as part of the
    45-unit M.S. 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 the "Procedures for Coterminal Students" web site.