Plan A for M.S.C.E./M.S.Geo.E.

The Master of Science Plan A is a research-focused degree that requires completion of at least 20 course credits plus 10 thesis credits (CEGE 8777) and a final defense.


Coursework for the Graduate Degree Plan/GPAS is selected in consultation with the faculty advisor, to meet the needs and interests of the student. All Graduate Degree Plans must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Plan must include a minimum of 30 Credits:

  • Course credits: 12-20 credits
    • 12 credits have to be CEGE credits 
    • course credits start from the first semester you register in your program
    • graduate credits consist of 5xxx and 8xxx level classes
    • course credits can include 4xxx level credits subject to the 4xxx credit rule 
      • a maximum of nine 4xxx level course credits may be used to satisfy degree requirements
      • partial credits from a course are not accepted
  • Thesis credits: 10 thesis credits 
    • must be taken at the University of Minnesota
    • can be taken during any semester
  • Transfer credits: up to 8 credits
    • Not required to bring in transfer credits
    • all coursework can be taken in CEGE or at the University of Minnesota 
    • if you are going to transfer coursework credits, the CEGE transfer coursework credits form must be filled out completely and turned in along with the transcript the coursework is being transferred from. The form can be found in the CEGE graduate handbook in the forms section. The two documents must be turned into the program cordinator in CivE 143 or at
    • Transfer credits include: 
      • non-degree seeking credits taken from the University of Minnesota
      • courses from another institution
      • courses taken from another graduate program at the University of Minnesota (credits in common rule (8))
      • graduate level credits taken in the undergraduate program
        • graduate credits are only allowed if the student is able to provide evidence (in the form of a letter from the undergraduate advisor or university) stating that the course(s) to be transferred (1) was not necessary for the undergraduate degree and (2) the the work done was at the graduate level. 
        • if the courses were taken at the University of Minnesota, then you need to fill out the Transfer Credits from Undergraduate to Gradaute Career Form 

Thesis and Defense

The thesis must be based on a research project carried out by the student in consultation with a faculty advisor. The thesis topic is normally derived from a student’s duties as a graduate research assistant and therefore originates from a funded proposal idea developed by the graduate advisor. Students can also propose an independently conceived research idea and then develop and refine the research plan in consultation with the graduate advisor.

The M.S. thesis, while not of the length or complexity of a Ph.D. thesis, must represent an original contribution to the field. M.S. thesis research typically results in one or more peer-reviewed journal publications.

Students should distribute a finished, complete draft of the thesis to their committee members at least two weeks prior to the intended defense date.

Thesis Formatting Guidelines

The final defense is closed to the public. Only the student and committee members may attend. The defense is typically 90 minutes in length and includes a formal presentation of the thesis research (not to exceed 30 minutes) followed by questions and comments from the committee. Questions may relate to both the thesis content and technical course competence.

After the defense, committee members may suggest some thesis revisions, which must be made before the thesis is submitted to the advisor and then to the Graduate School. Students are required to submit in electronic format the final version of the thesis to the Graduate School.

Thesis Submission Instructions

For additional details on program requirements and milestones, consult the CEGE Graduate Handbook