Professional Master’s Mineral Exploration degree

Candidates for the Professional Master Degree must possess an appropriate geosciences undergraduate degree or its equivalent. Prerequisites are the same as those required for the Master of Science (Geology) Degree.

GGE Graduate Programs has information about the Graduate Application Process and Graduate Application Fee Waivers.

Professional Master's Mineral Exploration degree

This non-thesis master’s degree program is designed for working professionals who want to increase their knowledge and skills, while gaining a thorough up-date of advances across the spectrum of economic geology, mineral exploration techniques, and mining geosciences. Admission to the program is competitive. Preference will be given to applicants with a minimum of two years of industrial or equivalent experience.

The program requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of coursework, and no research is required. A minimum of 15 credit hours must be accumulated in five of the following core areas:

  • mineral deposits,
  • mineral exploration,
  • applied geophysics,
  • applied geochemistry,
  • applied structural geology,
  • petrology,
  • field geology,
  • and economic evaluation.

An additional 15 credit hours may be selected from the course offerings of the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering and allied departments including Mining Engineering, Economics and Business, Geophysics, Chemistry and Geochemistry, Metallurgy and Materials Science, and Environmental Sciences.

Selection of courses will be undertaken in consultation with the academic advisor. All credits towards the degree must be 500-level or above. A maximum of 9 credit hours may be independent study focusing on a topic relevant to the mineral exploration and mining industries.

Colorado School of Mines undergraduate geology students may apply for a Combined ‘4+1’ whereby they may double count 6 credit hours for both the undergraduate geology degree and the Mineral Exploration degree. Application for the combined program needs to be done the semester before applying for completion of the undergraduate degree, by filling out the Combined Application for graduate studies. The courses may count for both the undergraduate and graduate degrees,  must be completed with a grade of B- or better, and must be 500-level or higher courses. Selection of courses should be undertaken in consultation with the graduate academic advisor.

Two Graduate Certificates in Mineral Exploration (each certificate is 12.0 credits) are now offered for working professionals who want to increase their knowledge and skills, while gaining a thorough up-date of advances across the spectrum of economic geology and mineral exploration techniques. The Certificates in Exploration Methods and in Economic Geology represent attractive opportunities for working professionals to complete a Graduate Program in a short time (expected 2 semesters for completion in part-time mode and 1 semester as full-time student) and boost their careers. The two certificates can be used towards the Professional Master’s degree in Mineral Exploration, which will allow part-time students to stack their education.

for Graduate Students Applying to the Professional Master’s in Mineral Exploration Program

The Professional Master’s Degree is a non-thesis master’s degree in Mineral Exploration and Economic Geology. Courses are set up as 2-week block courses to allow working professional geologists to come onto campus for courses and return to their jobs. We also have full time students on campus, and the program is eligible for the CSM geology undergraduate students interested in continuing with the combined ‘4+1’ program.

When in doubt, you may email:

1. Please note that international students who will need Colorado School of Mines (CSM) support for a student visa are only eligible to apply for the non-thesis master’s degree (NTMS). CSM does not supply student visa support for Graduate Certificate applications.

2. Please note the application deadlines.
For USA Citizens or students not needing a student visa, the application deadlines are August 1 to start in Fall term (August) and January 1 to start in Spring term (January).

For International students, the deadlines are October 1 to apply for the January starting term (“Spring”) and March 1 to apply for the August starting term (“Fall”). These early application deadlines are due to the time needed to obtain the student visa and all the requisite official transcripts and degree accreditations. Please note that in some countries there is a significant delay in scheduling the final visa interview, which may be 1 – 6 months.  If the delay is substantial, the start date for studying can be deferred. Please contact


3. What application materials are necessary?

Admission to the Mineral Exploration Master’s Degree (and related graduate certificates) should have completed an undergraduate degree in earth sciences. Courses taken should include general geology, structural geology, field geology, mineralogy, petrology, chemistry (2 semesters), mathematics (2 semesters of calculus), physics (1 semester).

  • Application fee: There is a non-refundable application fee.
  • Transcripts: Unofficial Transcripts may be used initially, which will need to be followed by Official Transcripts before registration. The transcript is a good indicator of your ability to succeed academically, and whether sufficient geological courses have been taken. You should submit all transcripts from all previously attended institutions so the department’s admissions committee can view your academic history and how your education has advanced.
  • Resume/CV: Your resume should contain a comprehensive list of your education, and professional experience.   Special training, publications, projects, internships, etc. should be included.
  • Statement of Purpose: The Statement of Purpose essay is typically one to two pages in length. The statement should introduce yourself to the Graduate Admissions Review Committee. In the statement, you should address professional and personal goals, as well as why Colorado School of Mines would be the best place for you to achieve those goals. This is intended to give the Graduate Admissions Review Committee a clear view of who you are and why you are applying to the Professional Master’s in Mineral Exploration program. Please make sure to explain your level of experience.
  • Two Letters of Recommendation: Letters (2) from past professors and employers are preferred. These should be people who directly supervise your work and can attest to your professional or academic profile. CSM does not accept letters of recommendation directly from the applicant; letters must be submitted by your professional references directly to the Mines Graduate admissions department.
  • English Proficiency needs to be demonstrated for international applicants from non-English speaking countries. All classes are taught in English. It is important for students at CSM to have a firm grasp on the English language to ensure academic success. The University accepts a number of English exam scores including Duolingo, TOEFL, IELTS and Cambridge scores. A list of passing scores is posted on the graduate admissions web page. Applicants from countries for which English is the official language are exempt from the language exam.
    II. Other exceptions are available based on Company experience, language of undergraduate university degree, etc.

4. What should I expect to invest financially? There is a link to the estimated costs of attendance on the graduate school’s web page for international, out-of-state, and residential in-state students. Tuition is charged at the beginning of each term based on the number of Graduate-level courses (credit hours) planned for that term.

  • Students residing outside Colorado and in western USA states may request the western states tuition exchange program and receive a significant discount.  Students applying for the Mineral Exploration Master’s program are eligible for this WRGP discount. Please indicate this in your CSM graduate application.
    WICHE Savings Finder
    WICHE Tuition Savings
  • There are a number of non-Colorado School of Mines scholarships available for students which may be applied for separately. Please search for these from professional organizations (SEG, SME, AIPG, etc.) Companies (SRK etc.), countries, US State Department, Fulbright Scholarship, etc.  Suggestions for outside scholarships or grants is available from email:

5. How long does the Professional Master’s program take to complete and graduate: The program requires a minimum of 30 credit hours. Full time student might be 15 credit hours per term, and a full-time student can complete the program in two terms (total of 10 months). Many students use a third term, particularly if English is their second language. The program is self-paced and can be completed with 1- or 2-courses per year, up to full time.

6. Who teaches the courses? The Mineral Exploration program director is Dr. Zhaoshan Chang, and the program manager is Mary Doherty, both of whom teach some courses. Other professors teaching courses include Dr. Thomas Monecke, Dr. M. Stephen Enders, Dr. Mathias Burisch-Hassell, Dr. Katharina Pfaff, Dr. Yvette Kuiper and Dr. Wendy Bohrson.

7. What are the degree requirements?

  • This is a non-thesis Professional Master’s degree in Mineral Exploration.
  • The program may be attended full time on campus, or students may arrive for specific block courses of 2-weeks duration, designed to make the program accessible to working professional geologists who may continued working full time and attending around their work schedules. Please note international students amy be required to attend full time, or minimum 12 credit hours per semester.
  • Students may take up to two semesters as leave-of-absence. This must be applied for, and a form also submitted upon return to study.
  • All of the economic geology coureses are taught in person, via either the block schedule or full semester courses.
  • There are few elective online courses in GIS and Geoinformatics which may be applied as program electives, and it is not recommended that students mix block and online courses due to the study time commitments.
  • Of the minimum 30 credit hours (~10 courses), students must take 15 credits in the Economic Geology/ Mineral Exploration courses. These are courses in: Economic Geology, Mineral Deposits, Mineral Exploration Design, Geophysics for Exploration, Exploration Geochemistry, Advanced Structural Geology, Leapfrog 3D Modeling, Busines of Economic Geology, Mineral Exploration Management, Reflected Light Microscopy, Igneous Petrology, Volcanology, Laser Ablation/ ICPMS, Field and Ore Deposit Geology, Mining Geology, New Developements in Geology and Exploration, SWIR Analysis, Hydrothermal Geochemistry, Skarn Deposits, and Endognenous Geochemistry. Up to a maximum of 15 credit hours may be elective courses in the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering and allied departments including Mining Engineering, Economics and Business, Geophysics, Chemistry and Geochemistry, Metallurgy and Materials Science and Environmental Sciences.
  • All courses must be 500-level or above.
  • A maximum of 9 credit hours may be independent study project focusing on a topic relevant to the mineral exploration and mining industries.
  • The course plan should be prepared with prior approval from the Professional Master’s graduate advisor.

8. Can I apply for a CSM Combined Program: Colorado School of Mines undergraduate students may apply using the Combined ‘4+1’ program and may doulbe count up to 6 credit hours to both the graduate and undergraduate degrees. These courses must be 500-level courses. Courses should be selected with approval from the Professional Master’s graduate advisor. Eligible courses include GEGN501 (Mineral Deposits) and GEGN503 (Mineral Exploration Design), and other courses by prior approval.

9. Can I switch degrees whilst studying for the Mineral Exploration non-thesis master’s degree? Some students attend the non-thesis Mineral Exploration program and during their first semesters identify a thesis research project opening. Students may shift their course credits from the Non-thesis Mineral Explroation Master’s to a research thesis M.Sc, in Geology upon agreement from their research thesis advisor.

  • The degree shift should be made by applying for the M.Sc. program and being accepted by a thesis advisior.
  • A degree change form must be submitted.
  • This should be accomplished before the end of the semester during which this shift is being made.
  • Credits will shift from the Mineral Exploration Master’s degree to the M.Sc. degree.
  • Only one master’s degree should be conferred.

Still have questions? Please email:

Documents and Forms

A number of important forms can be accessed in interactive form at the Office of Graduate Studies website. Several forms (e.g., Admission to Candidacy form) must be filled out at that website and printed for signatures and submittal. The Graduation Application form should be completed and submitted online.

Following are the Thesis Committee Step-by-Step Guide for Graduation Commencement for December 2023 and May 2024.

Field Trip Forms (Three)

International Trips