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 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:

  • 12 “Core” Credits
  • 10 Thesis Credits
    “Core” and Thesis Credits =
    • Registered while a degree-seeking U of MN student in your program
    • “Core” credits start the first semester of matriculation
    • Unique to the graduate program
  • 8 Other Credits
    Other credits =
    • Taken as non-degree seeking student
    • Transferred from another institution
    • Taken in another graduate program (i.e., credits in common)
    • Graduate–level credits taken in the undergraduate program
  • 30 Total Minimum Credits

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