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 physical sciences 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 a one-year 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 to the MA program from other majors or universities. 

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Admission to the University

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application and steps to take to apply can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

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. 

Research units can count toward the 24 total, but not toward the 12 grad level. 200-level seminars can only be counted toward the total 24 credits if they require active student participation in a focused topic area (e.g. pass/fail seminars in which students passively listen do not qualify).


  • EPS 255 (Department Seminar), EPS 260 (intro to faculty research for 1st-year PhD students), EPS 254 (BSL seminar), EPS 298 (BASC seminar), EPS 290 research group meetings, and similar seminars cannot be used to satisfy MA requirements.

  • EPS 256 (Earthquake of the Week) can be used if taken for a letter grade.

  • EPS 290 courses can be used only if they have a focus and title that distinguishes them from research group meetings.  E.g. in Fall 2020 Bruce Buffett taught “Computational Methods in GFD” as EPS 290, and William Boos taught “Global Circulation of Planetary Atmospheres” as EPS 290; both could be used toward the grad-level MA credits.

  • EPS 280 (research with a faculty advisor) can be used for up to 6 units total, but may not be counted toward the 12 grad-level credits required for the MA (they can count toward the 24 unit total).

Your faculty advisor and the graduate student services advisor will need to approve your courses for the MA.

The MA program is open only to students who have completed their undergraduate degree in our department.

Please see here for an overview of our MA program. 


Electives, as per specialized study list24
12 units must be graduate courses
12 additional units may be graduate or upper division courses
EPS 200Problems in Hydrogeology4
EPS 204Elastic Wave Propagation3
EPS 203Introduction to Aquatic and Marine Geochemistry4
EPS 207Laboratory in Observational Seismology3
EPS 209Matlab Applications in Earth Science2
EPS 210Exploration, Ore Petrology, and Geochemistry4
EPS 212Advanced Stratigraphy and Tectonics3
EPS 214Igneous Petrology4
EPS 216Active Tectonics3
EPS 217Fluvial Geomorphology4
EPS 220Advanced Concepts in Mineral Physics3
EPS 224Isotopic Geochemistry4
EPS 225Topics in High-Pressure Research2
EPS 229Introduction to Climate Modeling3
EPS 230Radiation and Its Interactions with Climate3
EPS 236Geological Fluid Mechanics4
EPS C241Stable Isotope Ecology5
EPS C242Glaciology4
EPS C249Solar System Astrophysics3
EPS 250Advanced Topics in Earth and Environmental Sciences3
EPS 251Carbon Cycle Dynamics3
EPS 254Advanced Topics in Seismology and Geophysics1
EPS 255Advanced Topics in Earth and Planetary Science1
EPS 256Earthquake of the Week2
EPS 260Research in Earth Science2
EPS 271Field Geology and Digital Mapping4
EPS C276Seismic Hazard Analysis and Design Ground Motions3
EPS 280Research1-12
EPS 290Seminar1-6
EPS C292Planetary Science Seminar1
EPS C295ZEnergy Solutions: Carbon Capture and Sequestration3
EPS 298Directed Group Study for Graduates1-9


Earth and Planetary Science

Contact Information

Department of Earth and Planetary Science

307 McCone Hall

Phone: 510-642-3993

Fax: 510-643-9980

Visit Department Website

Director of Student Services

Nadine Spingola-Hutton

305 McCone Hall

Undergraduate Major Advisor

Anna Atkinson

319 McCone Hall

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