Earth and Planetary Science

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences offers a PhD degree in Earth and Planetary Science. The central objective of the graduate program is to encourage creative thinking and develop the capacity for independent and original research. A strong undergraduate background in the sciences other than geology is especially helpful, and a significant number of our graduate students have their training in physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, or astronomy. Graduate students are formally accepted into the Earth and Planetary Science program, and they normally work directly toward a PhD.

The department offers an MA program; however, admission to the program is available only to graduates of our bachelor's degree program in Earth and Planetary Science. We do not accept applications from other majors or universities. 

Visit Department Website

Admissions

Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant comes from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. If the applicant is admitted, then official transcripts of all college-level work will be required. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) attended. If you have attended Berkeley, upload your unofficial transcript with your application for the departmental initial review. If you are admitted, an official transcript with evidence of degree conferral will not be required.
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, not the Graduate Division.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants from countries or political entities in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:
    • courses in English as a Second Language,
    • courses conducted in a language other than English,
    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and
    • courses of a non-academic nature.

If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833. Official IELTS score reports must be mailed directly to our office from British Council. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years.

Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Candidates for the PhD degree must pass the oral qualifying examination by the end of the second year and complete a thesis to the satisfaction of the appointed thesis committee. Students must have two research propositions to present at the qualifying examination, each developed under the supervision of a different professor on substantially different topics. There are no required courses for the PhD program.

Master's Degree Requirements

The master of arts degree requires 24 semester units of upper division and graduate courses with at least 12 units of graduate coursework, followed by a comprehensive oral examination. The MA program is open only to students who have completed their undergraduate degree in our department.

Curriculum

Electives, as per specialized study list24
12 units must be graduate courses
12 additional units may be graduate or upper division courses

Courses

Earth and Planetary Science

Faculty and Instructors

+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.

Faculty

Richard Allen, Professor. Seismology earthquakes earthquake hazard mitigation earth structure tomography natural hazards.
Research Profile

Jillian Banfield, Professor. Nanoscience, Bioremediation, genomics, biogeochemistry, carbon cycling, geomicrobiology, MARS, minerology.
Research Profile

Jim Bishop, Professor. Ocean carbon cycle dynamics, remote sensing, aquatic chemistry, marine biogeochemistry, land - ocean biogeochemistry, chemical oceanography, ocean sensors and autonomous observing systems, Carbon Explorer, Carbon Flux Explorer.
Research Profile

Kristie A. Boering, Professor. Physical chemistry, climate change, atmospheric chemistry, environmental chemistry, ozone, earth and planetary science, isotopic compositions of atmospheric trace gases, stratospheric ozone, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, molecular hydrogen, methane.
Research Profile

William Boos, Associate Professor. Atmospheric science, climate dynamics, monsoons, Earth's hydrological cycle.

Bruce Buffett, Professor. Dynamics and evolution of planetary interiors, including mantle convection, plate tectonics, and planetary dynamos.

Roland Burgmann, Professor. Geophysics, geology, earth and planetary science, geomechanics, tectonics, structural geology, active tectonics, fault zone processes, crustal deformation, space geodesy.
Research Profile

+ Eugene Chiang, Professor. Planetary science, theoretical astrophysics, dynamics, planet formation, circumstellar disks.
Research Profile

Ronald C. Cohen, Professor. Physical chemistry, water, climate, air pollution, atmospheric chemistry, environmental chemistry, analytical chemistry, ozone, nitrogen oxides, CO2, clouds.
Research Profile

William D. Collins, Professor in Residence. Interactions of clouds and aerosols with solar and terrestrial radiation.

Kurt Cuffey, Professor. Continuum mechanics, climate, geomorphology, glaciers, glaciology, climate history, stable isotopes, geographical thought.
Research Profile

Imke De Pater, Professor. Radio, planetary science, infrared, observations.
Research Profile

William E. Dietrich, Professor. Morphology, earth and planetary sciences, geomorphology, evolution of landscapes, geomorphic transport laws, landscape evolution modeling, high resolution laser altimetry, cosmogenic nuclide analysis.
Research Profile

Douglas S. Dreger, Professor. Wave propagation, geophysics, earth and planetary sciences, waveform data, geophysical inverse problems, seismic radiation, regional distance methodology, crustal structure affects on ground motions in the greater San Francisco Bay area.
Research Profile

Inez Fung, Professor. Global change, environmental policy, ecosystem scienes.
Research Profile

Lynn Ingram, Professor. Geophysics, geology, earth and planetary science, geography, stratigraphy with strontium isotopes, paleontological, paleoclimate, California climate change, paleosalinity, shellmounds, geochemical data, paleoclimatic and paleo-environmental reconstruction in aquatic environments using sedimentological.
Research Profile

Raymond Jeanloz, Professor. Planetary geophysics, high-pressure physics, national and international security, science-based policy.
Research Profile

+ Michael Manga, Professor. Hydrogeology, fluid mechanics, geomorphology, earth and planetary science, geological processes involving fluids, including problems in physical volcanology, geodynamics, dynamics of suspensions, flow and transport in porous materials, percolation theory.
Research Profile

Burkhard Militzer, Associate Professor. Saturn, structure and evolution of Jupiter, and extrasolar giant planets.
Research Profile

Steven R. Pride, Adjunct Professor. Crusted seismology, poroelasticity, electrical properties of rocks, physics of brittle fracture.

James W. Rector, Professor. Geophysics, Oil and Gas, Unconventional Shale Gas Reservoirs, Horizontal Drilling, Fracking, Near Surface Seismology, Tunnel Detection, Treasure Hunting, and Geophysical Archaeology, Borehole Seismology.
Research Profile

Paul Renne, Professor in Residence. Geochemistry, geochronology, paleomagnetism.
Research Profile

Mark A. Richards, Professor. Crustal deformation, earth and planetary sciences, mantle convection, large-scale mantle structure, rotational dynamics and gravity fields of terrestrial planets, history and dynamics of global plate motions, igneous processes in the mantle and deep crust.
Research Profile

Barbara A. Romanowicz, Professor. Earth and planetary science, deep earth structure and dynamics, earthquake processes and scaling laws, real time estimation of earthquake parameters, development of modern broadband seismic and geophysical observatories, planetary seismology.
Research Profile

David Romps, Assistant Professor. Climate, atmosphere, atmospheric science, weather, clouds, fluid dynamics.
Research Profile

Stephen Self, Adjunct Professor. Physical volcanology; field studies of products of large eruptions; environmental impact of volcanism.

David Shuster, Associate Professor. Noble gas geochemistry, thermochronometry, and cosmogenic nuclide observations.

Daniel Stolper, Assistant Professor. Biogeochemistry; Earth History; Geobiology; Global Climate Studies; Organic Geochemistry; Stable Isotope Geochemistry.

Nicholas Swanson-Hysell, Assistant Professor. Geology, stratigraphy, paleomagnetism, paleogeography.
Research Profile

Lecturers

Horst Rademacher, Lecturer.

Visiting Faculty

Paul C. Henshaw, Visiting Professor.

Paul Henshaw, Visiting Professor. Petroleum systems include the evolution of basins with their stratigraphic, structural and biogeochemical processes through time.

Emeritus Faculty

Walter Alvarez, Professor Emeritus.

George H. Brimhall, Professor Emeritus. Earth and planetary sciences, geology, ore-forming processes, mineral exploration science, non-renewable resource issues, photo-voltaic semi-conductor resources.
Research Profile

Mark S. T. Bukowinski, Professor Emeritus. Geophysics, earth and planetary sciences, planetary interiors, theoretical mineral physics, deep earth minerals, geochemical processes, thermal and chemical evolution.
Research Profile

Richard L. Hay, Professor Emeritus.

Lane Johnson, Professor Emeritus. Earth and planetary science, geophysical methods of studying structure and processes within the earth, seismic sources, monitoring of nuclear test ban treaties, theoretical and computational methods of treating wave propagation in realistic earth models.
Research Profile

James Kirchner, Professor Emeritus. Evolutionary ecology, biogeochemistry, earth and planetary sciences, geomorphology, watershed hydrology and geochemistry.
Research Profile

Chi-Yuen Wang, Professor Emeritus. Earth and planetary science.
Research Profile

Lionel E. Weiss, Professor Emeritus.

Hans-Rudolf Wenk, Professor Emeritus. Crystallography, earth and planetary science, structural geology and rock deformation, seismic anisotropy, investigating development of preferred orientation under expreme conditions using neutron diffraction, synchrotron x-rays, and electron microscopy.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Department of Earth and Planetary Science

307 McCone Hall

Phone: 510-642-3993

Fax: 510-643-9980

Visit Department Website

Department Chair and Director, Berkeley Seismological Lab

Richard Allen, PhD

279 McCone Hall

rallen@berkeley.edu

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Margie Winn

319 McCone Hall

Phone: 510-642-5574

Fax: 510-643-9980

winn@berkeley.edu

Back to Top