About the Program
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Geology is the science of the Earth—of its minerals and processes, of its origin and evolution. It is a broad science concerned with a vast range of physical phenomena in both space and time, and it requires a broad scientific background. Trained geologists can address a wide range of concerns, including energy supply, mineral resources, and environmental protection. This major provides strong background in the processes shaping the Earth. It emphasizes quantitative understanding and a strong foundation in the physical sciences.
Declaring the Major
The department strongly encourages students to come see the student services adviser as early as possible. Students are accepted into the major with a C average or better. There are a number of scholarships and research opportunities as well as other benefits available to declared majors.
Students in the honors program must fulfill the following additional requirements: 1) maintain a GPA of at least 3.3 in all courses in the major, and an overall GPA of at least 3.3 in the University; and 2) carry out an individual research or study project, involving at least three units of EPS H195. The project is chosen in consultation with a departmental adviser, and a written report is judged by the student's research supervisor and a departmental adviser. Application for the honors program should be made through the student's adviser no later than the end of the student's junior year.
For information regarding the requirements, please see the Minor Requirements tab. Program planning and confirmation should be done with the undergraduate major adviser and the geology faculty adviser.
Other Majors and Minors Offered by the Department of Earth and Planetary Science
In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.
- All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for graded credit, other than courses listed which are offered on a Pass/No Pass basis only. Other exceptions to this requirement are noted as applicable.
- No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
- A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.
For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.
Lower Division Requirements
|CHEM 1A||General Chemistry||3|
|or CHEM 4A||General Chemistry and Quantitative Analysis|
|CHEM 1AL||General Chemistry Laboratory||1|
|EPS 50||The Planet Earth||4|
|PHYSICS 7A||Physics for Scientists and Engineers||4|
|PHYSICS 7B||Physics for Scientists and Engineers (Math 53 is a prerequisite for this course)||4|
Upper Division Requirements
|EPS 100A||Minerals: Their Constitution and Origin||4|
|EPS 100B||Genesis and Interpretation of Rocks||4|
|EPS 101||Field Geology and Digital Mapping||4|
|EPS 102||History and Evolution of Planet Earth||4|
|EPS 118||Advanced Field Course (Register in the spring, but the course is during the summer)||4|
|EPS 150||Case Studies in Earth Systems||2|
|Electives, select a minimum of 10 units from the following list of suggested courses: 1||10|
|Quantitative Aspects of Global Environmental Problems|
|Computer Simulations in Earth and Planetary Sciences|
|Stratigraphy and Earth History|
|Structural Geology and Tectonics|
|Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors|
All elective courses used to fulfill the major requirements must be approved by the faculty adviser. This list is intended as a guide; the suggested courses are not limited to only courses included in this list.
Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements and are noted officially on the transcript in the memoranda section, but are not noted on diplomas.
- All courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements below must be taken for graded credit.
- A minimum of three of the upper division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
- A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
- Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
- No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
- All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which you plan to graduate. If you cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, please see a College of Letters & Science adviser.
- All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)
|EPS 50||The Planet Earth (or equivalent)||4|
|Select a minimum of five courses from the following:|
|Minerals: Their Constitution and Origin|
|Genesis and Interpretation of Rocks|
|Field Geology and Digital Mapping|
|History and Evolution of Planet Earth|
|Computer Simulations in Earth and Planetary Sciences|
|Stratigraphy and Earth History|
|Structural Geology and Tectonics|
|Advanced Field Course|
Undergraduate students in the College of Letters & Science must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.
For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide.
Entry Level Writing
All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley.
American History and American Institutions
The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.
American Cultures is the one requirement that all undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.
The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.
The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.
Reading and Composition
In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete a first-level reading and composition course by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.
The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.
120 total units, including at least 60 L&S units
Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units
- Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.
Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.
Senior Residence Requirement
After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.
You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.
Modified Senior Residence Requirement
Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.
Upper Division Residence Requirement
You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding EAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.
Student Learning Goals
The goal of the Geology BA degree is to provide students with a broad and sound education that provides general and specialized knowledge and is intellectually challenging and stimulating. Upon completion of the degree students are ready to enter graduate school at top-ranking institutions (about half of them choose this path), find employment in the profession (geological and environmental engineering and consulting are major opportunities), continue in public education as teachers, or use their background as a sound basis for a new career such as in public policy, law, or medical sciences.
Learning Goals for the Major
Geology majors acquire knowledge through coursework, laboratory training (expertise in experimental techniques), primary field research, library research, and computer applications, with oral presentations and written reports required in many of our classes.
The undergraduate program provides strong technical training for those who wish to pursue professional careers in the earth, environmental and planetary sciences, as well as training in analytical, creative and critical thinking and communication that serves well those who choose paths in new fields.
Geology is a broad science concerned with a vast range of physical phenomena in both space and time, and thus, it requires a broad scientific background. This track affords a strong foundation in the processes that shape the earth; it emphasizes quantitative understanding and a solid understanding of the physical sciences. Courses in the department emphasize expertise in laboratory skills, field observation, oral student presentations and many involve research projects.
The Geology track is versatile: it is an excellent background for graduate work, and it satisfies the minimum academic requirement for registration as a geologist in the State of California. Students learn from both a theoretical and a practical perspective, through field trips, in courses and through a four-week long summer camp. In summer camp students spend the entire time in the field, making observations, mapping, and interpreting a technical report that describes your findings in relation to published literature on the area.
Undergraduate Student Services Adviser
Professor Walter Alvarez
EPS Undergraduate Advising Calendar
To make an appointment and view the advising calendar, please visit the Contact Undergraduate Adviser website
Faculty and Instructors
+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Richard Allen, Professor. Seismology earthquakes earthquake hazard mitigation earth structure tomography natural hazards.
Jillian Banfield, Professor. Nanoscience, Bioremediation, genomics, biogeochemistry, carbon cycling, geomicrobiology, MARS, minerology.
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.
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.
Bruce Buffett, Professor.
Roland Burgmann, Professor. Geophysics, geology, earth and planetary science, geomechanics, tectonics, structural geology, active tectonics, fault zone processes, crustal deformation, space geodesy.
+ Eugene Chiang, Professor. Planetary science, theoretical astrophysics, dynamics, planet formation, circumstellar disks.
Ronald C. Cohen, Professor. Physical chemistry, water, climate, air pollution, atmospheric chemistry, environmental chemistry, analytical chemistry, ozone, nitrogen oxides, CO2, clouds.
William D. Collins, Professor in Residence.
Kurt Cuffey, Professor. Continuum mechanics, climate, geomorphology, glaciers, glaciology, climate history, stable isotopes, geographical thought.
Imke De Pater, Professor. Radio, planetary science, infrared, observations.
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.
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.
Inez Fung, Professor. Global change, environmental policy, ecosystem scienes.
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.
Raymond Jeanloz, Professor. Planetary geophysics, high-pressure physics, national and international security, science-based policy.
Michael Manga, Professor. Hydrogeology, fluid mechanics, geomorphology, earth & planetary science, geological processes involving fluids, including problems in physical volcanology, geodynamics, dynamics of suspensions, flow & transport in porous materials, percolation theory.
Charles Marshall, Professor.
Burkhard Militzer, Associate Professor. Saturn, structure and evolution of Jupiter, and extrasolar giant planets.
Steven R. Pride, Adjunct Professor.
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.
Paul Renne, Professor in Residence. Geochemistry, geochronology, paleomagnetism.
Mark A. Richards, Professor. Crustal deformation, earth & planetary sciences, mantle convection, large-scale mantle structure, rotational dynamics & gravity fields of terrestrial planets, history & dynamics of global plate motions, igneous processes in the mantle and deep crust.
Barbara A. Romanowicz, Professor. Earth & planetary science, deep earth structure & dynamics, earthquake processes & scaling laws, real time estimation of earthquake parameters, development of modern broadband seismic and geophysical observatories, planetary seismology.
David Romps, Assistant Professor. Climate, atmosphere, atmospheric science, weather, clouds, fluid dynamics.
Stephen Self, Adjunct Professor.
David Shuster, Associate Professor.
Nicholas Swanson-Hysell, Assistant Professor. Geology, stratigraphy, paleomagnetism, paleogeography.
Horst Rademacher, Lecturer.
Paul C. Henshaw, Visiting Professor.
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.
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.
Richard L. Hay, Professor Emeritus.
Lane Johnson, Professor Emeritus. Earth & planetary science, geophysical methods of studying structure & processes within the earth, seismic sources, monitoring of nuclear test ban treaties, theoretical & computational methods of treating wave propagation in realistic earth models.
James Kirchner, Professor Emeritus. Evolutionary ecology, biogeochemistry, earth and planetary sciences, geomorphology, watershed hydrology & geochemistry.
Chi-Yuen Wang, Professor Emeritus. Earth & planetary science.
Lionel E. Weiss, Professor Emeritus.
Hans-Rudolf Wenk, Professor Emeritus. Crystallography, earth & planetary science, structural geology & rock deformation, seismic anisotropy, investigating development of preferred orientation under expreme conditions using neutron diffraction, synchrotron x-rays, & electron microscopy.
Department of Earth and Planetary Science
307 McCone Hall
Department Chair & Director of Berkeley Seismological Laboratory
Richard Allen, PhD
279 McCone Hall
Undergraduate Student Services Adviser
305 McCone Hall
Walter Alvarez, PhD