About the Program
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Planetary science encompasses the study of the physical and chemical nature of planetary bodies both in the Solar System and in extrasolar systems. The formation of planets, the forces that sculpted their orbits, the processes that shaped their interiors, surfaces, and atmospheres and the development of life all fall under its rubric. Understanding these complex phenomena requires knowledge of astronomy and astrophysics, earth science, meteorology, atmospheric science, space science, plasma physics, chemistry, and biology. The Planetary Science major has been developed to study the remarkable interface among these disciplines.
Declaring the Major
Students are strongly encouraged to 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 grade point average (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 the written report is judged by the student's research supervisor and a departmental adviser.
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 planetary science 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 two upper division courses may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's double major and no more one course may be used to fulfill minor program requirements 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
|EPS 50||The Planet Earth||4|
|MATH 53||Multivariable Calculus||4|
|MATH 54||Linear Algebra and Differential Equations (Choose one of the following physics sequences:)||4|
|or PHYSICS 89||Introduction to Mathematical Physics|
and General Chemistry Laboratory
|or CHEM 4A||General Chemistry and Quantitative Analysis|
|Choose one of the following physics sequences:|
|Introductory Mechanics and Relativity|
and Introductory Electromagnetism, Waves, and Optics
and Introduction to Experimental Physics I
and Introductory Thermodynamics and Quantum Mechanics
and Introduction to Experimental Physics II
|Physics for Scientists and Engineers|
and Physics for Scientists and Engineers
and Physics for Scientists and Engineers
Upper Division Requirements
|EPS 102||History and Evolution of Planet Earth||4|
|EPS 150||Case Studies in Earth Systems||2|
|EPS/ASTRON C162||Planetary Astrophysics||4|
|Electives: Select 14 upper division units from the following list of suggested courses: 1||14|
|Computer Simulations with Jupyter Notebooks |
|Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors |
|Isotopic Geochemistry |
|Stable Isotope Geochemistry |
|Air Pollution |
or EPS C181
|Atmospheric Physics and Dynamics|
or EPS C182
|Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Laboratory|
|Critical Zone Characterization using Geophysical Methods |
|Optical and Infrared Astronomy Laboratory  (A choice of one of the following two:)|
or ASTRON 121
|Radio Astronomy Laboratory|
|Mathematical Tools for the Physical Sciences |
or EPS 104
|Mathematical Methods in Geophysics|
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 they are not noted on diplomas.
- All minors must be declared no later than one semester before a student's Expected Graduation Term (EGT). If the semester before EGT is fall or spring, the deadline is the last day of RRR week. If the semester before EGT is summer, the deadline is the final Friday of Summer Sessions. To declare a minor, contact the department advisor for information on requirements, and the declaration process.
- 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 the student plans to graduate. Students who cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time should 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:|
|History and Evolution of Planet Earth |
|Mathematical Methods in Geophysics |
or MATH 121A
|Mathematical Tools for the Physical Sciences|
|Computer Simulations with Jupyter Notebooks |
|Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors |
|Planetary Astrophysics |
|Air Pollution |
|Atmospheric Physics and Dynamics |
|Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Laboratory |
Undergraduate students 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. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages.
University of California Requirements
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.
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.
Berkeley Campus Requirement
All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course 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.
College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements
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.
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 parts A & B reading and composition courses by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.
College of Letters & Science 7 Course 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.
120 total 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), Berkeley Summer Abroad, 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 UCEAP 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.
The field of Planetary Science encompasses the study of the physical and chemical nature of all planetary bodies both in our and other solar systems. The formation of planets, the forces that sculpted their orbits, the processes that shaped their interiors, surfaces, and atmospheres, and the development of life all fall under its rubric. Understanding these complex phenomena requires interdisciplinary knowledge of astronomy and astrophysics, earth science, atmospheric science, space science, and of fundamentals in physics and chemistry. The specialization prepares students for graduate school as well as employment in research laboratories and government agencies.
Undergraduate Student Services Manager
Professor Burkhard Militzer
EPS Undergraduate Appointments
To make an appointment, 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.
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.
+ 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. 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.
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.
Bethanie Edwards, Assistant Professor. Microbial oceanography, the marine biological pump, and the diversity and distribution of oxylipins.
Inez Fung, Professor. Global change, environmental policy, ecosystem scienes.
Raymond Jeanloz, Professor. Planetary geophysics, high-pressure physics, national and international security, science-based policy.
Harriet Lau, Assistant Professor. Large-scale properties of Earth; Global-scale geodynamic processes across different timescales; Frequency-dependent Rheology.
+ 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.
Burkhard Militzer, Associate Professor. Saturn, structure and evolution of Jupiter, and extrasolar giant planets.
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.
Paul Renne, Professor in Residence. Geochemistry, geochronology, paleomagnetism.
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.
David Romps, Professor. Climate, atmosphere, atmospheric science, weather, clouds, fluid dynamics.
Stephen Self, Adjunct Professor. Physical volcanology, field studies of products of large eruptions, environmental impact of volcanism.
David Shuster, 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.
Horst Rademacher, Lecturer.
Walter Alvarez, Professor Emeritus, Professor of the Graduate School. Stratigraphy and Earth history, tectonics, stratigraphy of pelagic limestones.
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.
Don DePaolo, Professor Emeritus, Professor of the Graduate School. Application of mass spectrometry, radiogenic isotope geochemistry, and principles of physics and chemistry to fundamental problems in geology.
Lynn Ingram, Professor Emeritus. 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.
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.
James Kirchner, Professor Emeritus. Evolutionary ecology, biogeochemistry, earth and planetary sciences, geomorphology, watershed hydrology and geochemistry.
Mark A. Richards, Professor Emeritus. 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.
Chi-Yuen Wang, Professor Emeritus, Professor of the Graduate School. Earth and planetary science.
Hans-Rudolf Wenk, Professor Emeritus, Professor of the Graduate School. 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.
Department of Earth and Planetary Science
307 McCone Hall