Jul 14, 2020  
2012-2013 SDSM&T Academic Catalog 
2012-2013 SDSM&T Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Paleontology, M.S.

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Contact Information

Dr. Laurie Anderson
Department of Geology and Geological Engineering
Mineral Industries 303
(605) 394-2461
E-mail: Laurie.Anderson@sdsmt.edu.


Professors Anderson and Price; Assistant Professor Belanger, Pagnac and Sawyer;  Associate Director and Instructor Shelton; Haslem Post-doctoral Fellow Boyd;  Adjunct Professor Benton;  Professors Emeritus Fox and Martin.


The Department of Geology and Geological Engineering offers advanced study leading to an M.S. degree in paleontology.  Resources available to graduate students in paleontology include the extensive collections of the Museum of Geology.  The M.S. in paleontology has a strong emphasis on field-based research as well as courses in museum studies.

A student may enter this program with an undergraduate degree in geology, anthropology, one of the biological sciences, or other science disciplines, but for the latter majors, deficiencies must be completed as listed below. Students with more than three (3) deficiencies should plan to complete them prior to applying for admission.

All incoming students are expected to present one semester of college-level Physics and two semesters each of college-level Calculus and Chemistry as part of their undergraduate record. Deficiencies in these areas must be remedied by taking the necessary coursework prior to or in the first year of enrollment in the graduate program.

All incoming students are expected to have completed courses in the following areas:

  • Statistics
  • Mineralogy
  • Historical Geology
  • Invertebrate Paleontology
  • Petrology
  • Structural Geology
  • Stratigraphy and Sedimentation
  • Field Geology

No graduate credit will be granted for making up undergraduate-level deficiencies.

The GRE exam is required of all applicants.  The TOEFL exam is required for students whose native language is not English.

Candidates for the M.S. degree must fulfill all degree requirements of the graduate office and of the program, including an oral comprehensive exam covering course material.  The thesis option is the only option for the M.S. in paleontology.

Degree Requirements

The M.S. thesis option requires 32 credits, including six to eight (6-8) credits of thesis research and twenty-four to twenty-six (24-26) credits of coursework.

The candidate’s committee is responsible for assisting the student in developing a program of study that prepares the student for his/her intended field of study.  GEOL 700 (Research Methods) is required the first fall semester of enrollment.  In addition, the program of study must include at least one GEOL/GEOE/PALE course emphasizing field methods, one GEOL/GEOE/PALE course emphasizing computational mehtods, and one GEOL/GEOE/PALE course emphasizing the systematics of a taxonomic group.  The student’s advising committee determines the courses that meet these criteria.

The following courses are recommended for M.S. paleontology students, especially those completing thesis research in vertebrate paleontology or interested in pursuing a career in museums or in paleontology resource management. 

Additional Information

All thesis samples, specimens, and their documentation collected while a registered student must be curated into the collections of the Museum of Geology.

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