University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The Geophysics major is designed to provide students with theoretical, field and laboratory experience in studying geodynamic processes and the structure of the Earth and other planets. It is designed for students with good physics and mathematics ability. It provides a solid background in physical science and mathematics with an emphasis on the physics of the Earth.

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.

Honors Program

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 at 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 the 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.

Minor Program

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 geophysics faculty adviser.

Other Majors and Minors Offered by the Department of Earth and Planetary Science

Atmospheric Science (Major and Minor)
Environmental Earth Science (Major and Minor)
Geology (Major and Minor)
Marine Science (Major and Minor)
Planetary Science (Major and Minor)

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Major Requirements

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.

General Guidelines

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

EPS 50The Planet Earth4
MATH 1ACalculus4
MATH 1BCalculus4
MATH 53Multivariable Calculus4
CHEM 1AGeneral Chemistry3
or CHEM 4A General Chemistry and Quantitative Analysis
CHEM 1ALGeneral Chemistry Laboratory1
MATH 54Linear Algebra and Differential Equations4
or PHYSICS 89 Introduction to Mathematical Physics
PHYSICS 7APhysics for Scientists and Engineers4
PHYSICS 7BPhysics for Scientists and Engineers4
PHYSICS 7CPhysics for Scientists and Engineers4

Upper Division Requirements

EPS 102History and Evolution of Planet Earth4
EPS 122Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors3
EPS 150Case Studies in Earth Systems2
MATH 121AMathematical Tools for the Physical Sciences4
or EPS 104 Mathematical Methods in Geophysics
Electives, select 11 upper division units, from the following list of suggested courses: 111
Minerals: Their Constitution and Origin
Genesis and Interpretation of Rocks
Field Geology and Digital Mapping
Computer Simulations in Earth and Planetary Sciences
Petroleum Geology
Structural Geology and Tectonics
Strong Motion Seismology
Planetary Astrophysics
Applied Geophysics
Analytic Mechanics
Electromagnetism and Optics

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.

Minor Requirements

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 they are not noted on diplomas.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements below must be taken for graded credit.
  2. A minimum of three of the upper division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
  4. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
  5. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
  6. 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.
  7. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)


Lower Division
EPS 50The Planet Earth (or equivalent)4
Upper Division
Select a minimum of five upper division courses from the following: 1
Mathematical Methods in Geophysics
Computer Simulations in Earth and Planetary Sciences
Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Strong Motion Seismology
Applied Geophysics

 Other courses may be substituted with approval of the faculty adviser.

College Requirements

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

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.

Quantitative Reasoning

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.

Foreign Language

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.

Breadth Requirements

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.

Unit Requirements

  • 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

Residence Requirements

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 Earth and Planetary Science (EPS) 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

EPS majors acquire knowledge through course work, 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.

Geophysics seeks to understand the vast and complicated body that is the Earth. Because most of the Earth's interior is inaccessible to direct observation, the geophysicist uses the basic principles of physics to devise indirect methods of exploring those parts of the Earth that cannot be reached by shovel or drill bit. Measurements of magnetic fields, electric potential, gravity, seismic waves, and satellite-based geodesy are used to probe the interior and study surface and internal processes of our planet, and to answer questions concerning how continents move, mountains form, earthquakes shake, and volcanoes erupt, as well as improving our understanding of planetary to local scale structure and processes. These questions require an interdisciplinary approach that links the disciplines of mathematics, physics, geology, and chemistry. Moreover, the geophysics study encompasses theoretical and experimental science as well as fieldwork to study geodynamic processes and the structure of the Earth and other planets, and employed methods are used for identification and recovery of natural resources, the characterization of natural hazards from earthquakes and volcanoes, and are used for environmental studies and remediation.


Undergraduate Student Services Adviser

Nadine Spingola-Hutton

Faculty Adviser

Professor Doug Dreger

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.
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

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.
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.

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 & planetary science, geological processes involving fluids, including problems in physical volcanology, geodynamics, dynamics of suspensions, flow & transport in porous materials, percolation theory.
Research Profile

Charles Marshall, Professor.

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

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.
Research Profile

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

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.
Research Profile

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.
Research Profile

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

Stephen Self, Adjunct Professor.

David Shuster, Associate Professor.

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


Horst Rademacher, Lecturer.

Visiting Faculty

Paul C. Henshaw, Visiting Professor.

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 & 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.
Research Profile

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

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

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.
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 & Director of Berkeley Seismological Laboratory

Richard Allen, PhD

279 McCone Hall

Undergraduate Student Services Adviser

Nadine Spingola-Hutton

305 McCone Hall

Phone: 510-643-4068

Faculty Adviser

Doug Dreger, PhD

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