University of California, Riverside

Department of Earth Sciences



Program Requirements


In addition to the catalog requirements please check out the Graduate division website for more information about our graduate programs.

Master’s Degree

In addition to the general requirements listed under the Graduate Studies,  the requirements for the M.S. degree in Geological Sciences, under the Plan 1 (Thesis), are as follows: 

Admission Students must make up any deficiency in preparation. The background required is course preparation equivalent to the bachelor’s degree in Geology or Geophysics at UCR. Courses taken to remedy background deficiencies are not applicable to the graduate degree. Such courses are designated in the letter of admission to the program sent by the dean of the Graduate Division to the student.

Biannual Reviews All students must undergo biannual reviews by the departmental Graduate Progress Committee. A student’s progress is assessed in these reviews, and the committee may recommend changes in a student’s plans after these reviews.

Course Work All students must enroll each quarter in the Graduate Seminar in Geosciences (GEO 250). Students must attend the weekly Hewett Club lecture series. Students must complete a minimum of 36 units of course work in the major and related subjects and obtain advance approval of a coherent plan of study from the graduate advisor. A maximum of 12 upper-division units beyond the requirements for the bachelor’s degree may be applied to the 36-unit requirement.Students must complete a minimum of 12 units of graduate courses, which must include at least four graduate-level instructional courses taught by four different faculty members as approved by the graduate advisor. Subject to the approval of the graduate advisor, a limited number of upper-division courses in the major and related sciences, if not required for the bachelor’s degree and not taken previously, may be accepted for graduate credit.

Thesis and Final Oral Examination Before the end of the third quarter of study and before embarking on research, the student must submit a written thesis proposal to the graduate progress committee. After approval of the proposal, the student must submit a thesis based on original work for approval by a thesis committee. A maximum of 12 units of thesis research may be counted toward the 36-unit minimum. Students present an open research seminar as a final oral examination, which is advertised to all the students and faculty in the Earth Sciences Department.

Normative Time to Degree 7 quarters

Global Climate and Environmental Change (GCEC) The GCEC MS track is a field and laboratory based multidisciplinary program focused on the evidence for and controls of past and present climate change. Candidates must complete the following:

Course Work Students must complete a minimum of 36 quarter units of graduate and upper-division undergraduate courses, and research credit from 1 and 2 (below). Other upper-division undergraduate and graduate classes outside may be substituted with consent of the Graduate Advisor. 24 of 36 credits must be graduate level. 1) Required Core courses: GEO 224 upon entry into the program, GEO 260 and BIOL 212/ENTM 212/GEO 212. 2) At least two additional disciplinary courses: GEO 221, GEO 226, GEO 239, GEO 249, GEO 251, GEO 255, GEO 264, GEO 265, GEO 268, GEO 301, OR ENSC 200, ENSC 218, ENSC 224, ENSC 225, ENSC 232.

Thesis Work Before the end of the third quarter students must nominate a faculty advisor and identify a thesis topic. Before embarking on research the student must submit a thesis proposal based on original work for approval by a thesis committee. A maximum of 8 units of research credit can be counted toward the 36 unit minimum. Students present an open research seminar as a final oral examination.

 Doctoral Degree

  In addition to the general requirements of the Graduate Division as found in the Graduate Studies section, the Ph.D. in Geological Sciences normally requires the following. 

Biannual Reviews All students meet with the Graduate Progress Committee during their first week at UCR to discuss general interests, goals, and plans. The committee recommends courses designed to prepare a student for research and to correct eficiencies in background. This committee also reviews a student’s progress biannually and may recommend transfer to the master’s program if normal progress is not maintained. 

Course Work Students must complete at least four graduate-level instructional courses taught by four different faculty members as approved by the graduate advisor. Course work used in satisfaction of the M.S. degree may be accepted with the graduate advisor’s approval. All students must enroll each quarter in the Graduate Seminar in Geosciences (GEO 250). Students are also required to attend the weekly Hewett Club lecture series. 

Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations Students must write two research proposals. The proposal topics must be approved by an examination committee to ensure breadth. The committee reviews the proposals and, if acceptable, recommends proceeding to the oral qualifying examination. An oral examination committee appointed by the dean of the Graduate Division examines the adequacy of the student’s preparation to conduct the proposed research. Advancement to candidacy in the Ph.D. program follows successful completion of the oral examination.  Please see attached for more information:

Annotated Requirements for Written Candidacy Exam/Proposals

Annotated Requirements for Oral Candidacy Exam

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination A dissertation normally evolves from one of the research proposals. The dissertation must present original scholarly work and be approved by a dissertation committee before the student may take the final oral examination. Students must have satisfactory performance on the final oral examination given by the dissertation committee.

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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Earth Sciences Information

Department of Earth Sciences
Geology Building

Tel: (951) 827-3434
Fax: (951) 827-4324
E-mail: john.herring@ucr.edu

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