ErSE MS Degree

The M.S. degree requires at least 36 credits and has both a thesis and a non-thesis option. The graduate seminar course ErSE 298 is mandatory. The requirements for the two options include the successful completion of:

  1. Core Curriculum: (12 credits) Four core courses from the core curriculum listed below; 
  2. Elective Curriculum: (12 credits) Four courses as agreed to with the student’s advisor. Suggested courses for students with interests in solid earth or fluid earth systems areas of emphasis are listed below; 
  3. Research/Capstone Experience: (12 credits) The requirements for this component of degree depend upon the option that the student chooses to pursue. 


Thesis Option

A minimum of 6 credits of thesis research (ErSE 297) is required although it is expected that a student will enroll in 12 credits of M.S. thesis work. With permission of the M.S. thesis advisor, a student who enrolls in only 6 credits of thesis research may use one of the following options to earn the 6 remaining credits of degree requirements:
  • Internship (ErSE 295): Research-based summer internship  Summer internships are subject to approval by the student’s academic advisor and the ErSE program chair.  A student may not enroll in two internships.
  • Broadening Experience Courses: Courses that broaden a student’s M.S. experience. 
  • Ph.D.-Level Courses: ErSE courses numbered 300 or greater. Any course in the Ph.D. core requirements that is passed with a minimum grade of B– may be used towards meeting the core Ph.D. requirements of the ErSE program if the student chooses to continue for a Ph.D. degree in ErSE at KAUST. 
Students are permitted to register for more than 12 credits of M.S. thesis research as necessary and with the permission of the thesis advisor.

Evaluation of satisfactory completion of MS thesis work is performed by a committee comprising the M.S. thesis advisor and two other faculty members. In special cases one faculty member may be substituted by a Ph.D. holding research staff member with a relevant background. The chair of the committee must be a faculty member within the ErSE program. MS thesis credits will be graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory. The requirement of a public ErSE seminar based on the student’s work is left to the discretion of the MS thesis advisor. For additional details on thesis requirements and committee formation, see General Degree Program Guidelines.

The student is responsible for scheduling the thesis defense date with his/her supervisor and committee members. It is advisable that the student submits a written copy of the thesis to the thesis committee members at least two weeks prior the defense date.

Non-Thesis Option

A minimum of 12 credits of academic work embodying research (six credits)  and broadening experience (six credits) is required. 

1. Research Experience

      • Directed Research (ErSE 299):  Master’s-level supervised research.
      • Internship (ErSE 295):  Research-based summer internship.  Summer internships are subject to approval by the student’s academic advisor and the ErSE program chair.  A student may not enroll in two internships.
2. Broa​dening Experience

      • Two Courses: Any two graduate-level courses in any program at KAUST, including additional directed research.
      • Broadening Experience Courses: Courses that broaden a student’s M.S. experience.
      • Ph.D.-Level Courses: ErSE courses numbered 300 or greater. Any course in the Ph.D. core requirements that is passed with a minimum grade of B– may be used towards meeting the core Ph.D. requirements of the ErSE program if the student chooses to continue for a Ph.D. degree in ErSE at KAUST.
      • Internship (ErSE 295): Research-based summer internship.  Summer internships are subject to approval by the student’s academic advisor and the ErSE program chair.  A student may not enroll in two internships.
It should be noted that a student may also take a combination of the above  courses to satisfy the six- credit requirement. For example, a student could take one Ph.D.-level course and one graduate-level course in another program. A student may not enroll in two summer internships.