Combined BS/MS Program
What is the Combined BS/MS Program?
The Department of Geographical Sciences’ Combined, Five Year BS/MS Program is an opportunity for top-achieving undergraduate students to enhance their academic portfolio, and best prepare to enter the workforce or a doctoral program. This balanced research and academic program includes coursework at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and a student-designed applied research project. Students who complete all program requirements will leave the University of Maryland after five years with a Bachelors of Science (BS) in Geographical Sciences, as well as a Master’s of Science (MS) in Geographical Sciences.
Who is eligible for the Combined BS/MS Program?
Junior year undergraduate Geographical Sciences students with:
- Minimum 3.5 GPA overall
- Undergraduate course plan eligible for eight credits of graduate courses in Senior year (check with Advising Office).
What are the steps in the application process?
In the spring semester of your Junior year:
- Visit Dr. Rachel Berndtson, BS/MS coordinator, (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss your eligibility.
- Fill out an application form, and return to Dr. Berndtson by April 1. Application materials include:
- Student information (name, GPA, course plan, etc.)
- Research statement
- Names of potential faculty advisors
- BSOS Grad form and Combined BS/MS form.
- After reviewing your application, the Department of Geographical Sciences will either reject or conditionally accept. Your acceptance is conditional because the graduate school admission process is not controlled by the Department. Your conditional acceptance indicates that in your Senior year you are eligible to enroll in graduate courses and apply to the graduate school.
- If conditionally accepted, enroll in four credits of graduate courses for the fall of your senior year (and four additional in the spring of your senior year).
In the fall semester of your Senior year:
- Submit an application to the graduate school by December 15. Admission requires both University and Departmental approval. The key requirements for University admission are a Bachelor's degree and an acceptable GPA.
- Enroll in the remaining graduate courses for your MS degree for the fall of your fifth year.
What are the requirements to earn the Combined BS/MS?
- Successful completion of all Bachelors of Science in Geographical Sciences course requirements with a mandatory 3.5 or above GPA.
- Successful completion of all Masters of Science in Geographical Sciences course requirements with a mandatory 3.0 or above GPA. This includes:
- The submission of a scholarly product , approved by your graduate faculty advisor.
- 30 credit hours of graduate course work.
In what courses should I enroll to earn the Combined BS/MS?
You need to enroll in 120 credit hours for the BS degree, and 30 credit hours for the MS degree. Eight credit hours for the BS degree will be double counted for the MS degree. These eight double-counted credits, taken in your Senior year, include:
Year 4 Fall Semester
Year 4 Spring Semester
Total Double Counted Credits
GEOG6XX (upper level elective)
In addition to these eight double-counted credits from your Senior year, you will enroll in 22 credits of graduate courses in your fifth year, including:
Year 5 Fall Semester
Year 5 Spring Semester
GEOG6XX (600 level human elective)
GEOG6XX (600 level technical elective
GEOG6XX (600 level elective)
GEOG6XX (600 level physical elective)
In your Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior years as an undergraduate,you will takecourses required for the Geography Concentration. With the General Education, supporting, and elective courses, this will equal a minimum of 90 credits.
How and when do I select a graduate faculty advisor?
You must select a graduate faculty advisor before you apply to the BS/MS program in the spring semester of your Junior year. The professor you select must be a member of the Department of Geographical Sciences graduate faculty. You will need to include this faculty member’s name in your BS/MS program application, and he/she will need to approve your acceptance to the program. Your graduate faculty advisor’s research should align with your MS research interests, as this individual will be mentoring you for your research project.
What is the role of my graduate faculty advisor?
Your graduate faculty advisor assists you in selecting graduate level courses (for your fifth year), and mentors you through the process of completing your research project. In your fifth year, you will regularly meet with your faculty advisor through the course GEOG789: Independent Readings. In order to graduate with the MS, your faculty advisor must read and approve your scholarly product proposal and the product itself. Your graduate faculty advisor will also provide guidance for your career and/or advanced degree path.
What does the scholarly product entail?
The product focuses on an area of concentration you identify, and your advisor approves. You will begin drafting the proposal for your product in the first semester of your fifth year. The product format can vary, and may include a paper, application, or visualization with an accompanying technical report. Your faculty advisor will help you narrow down a topic for the product, and will also offer advice on product structure. You are also required to present your product in the spring semester of your fifth year at an academic forum. The product is examined by your faculty advisor, and the Graduate Director. Options of examiners include: (a) pass; (b) fail but resubmit: (c) fail do not resubmit.
What if in my Senior year, I decide not to continue with the MS?
If in your Senior year you decide to drop out of the MS degree, you may use the eight credits of double-counted courses towards your BS degree.
Can the double-counted BS/MS courses be used to satisfy any of my Geography BS requirements (Ex: Gateway, Systematic, Supporting Sequence, or GEOG Electives)?
No. The eight double-counted BS/MS courses only fulfill non-major elective credits
Can I take more than one year to complete the Master’s component of my degree?
No. You must fulfill the MS degree requirements in one year.
For more information on the Geographical Sciences Combined BS/MS Program, please contact:
Dr. Rachel Berndtson
2181L LeFrak Hall