Program: M.S., Geology

Geology Option

Program Description

The Master of Science program has two options: Geology and Geophysics. These programs are designed to: (1) train individuals with the competence required by the geological profession for employment in industry and government agencies; (2) enable promising students to attain a level of knowledge and research ability necessary for admission to and success in Ph.D. programs; and (3) provide depth and breadth of knowledge, laboratory teaching experience and fundamental research skills essential to students planning to teach geology at the community college level. Students with strong backgrounds in math and physics and whose research interests and career plans are related to geophysics should choose the Geophysics option. All others should choose the Geology option.

Program Requirements

A. Admission to the Program

  1. B.S. degree in Geology or its equivalent. B.S. degree must contain at least 4 units of field geology courses, to include a significant field mapping experience and a substantial written report. Students who do not have the appropriate coursework may be conditionally admitted to the program, but will be required to complete any deficient coursework without graduate credit during the first year of residence.
  2. Satisfied the University requirements for admission.
  3. Undergraduate Geology GPA must be at or above 3.0, or strong written support of a faculty sponsor in the department.
  4. Transcripts from the student’s post-secondary education.

B. Degree Requirements

Completion, with a “B” average (3.0) or higher, of 30 units of approved graduate study, including a minimum of 22 units of 500- and 600-level courses. The degree is also based on successful proposal development and completion and successful oral defense of a thesis.

1. Required Courses (13 units)

GEOL 522/L Geological Data Analysis and Lab (3/1)
GEOL 603 Advanced Geoscience Communication (3)
GEOL 694 Graduate Thesis Research Design (3)
GEOL 696C Directed Graduate Research (3)

2. Electives (14 units)

Electives should be selected with the approval of the student’s primary advisor and graduate coordinator from available 400-, 500- and 600-level courses in Geology or other fields relevant to the thesis work. A maximum of 8 units of 400-level courses may be applied toward the 30 units required for the degree. The choice of electives will vary with thesis topic. (Note: In some cases, service as a teaching assistant in the department may be advised as part of the student’s educational experience.)

3. Culminating Experience (3 units)

GEOL 698C Thesis or Graduate Project (3)

Total Units Required for the M.S. Degree: 30

More information

For more information about this program, please contact


Department of Geological Sciences
Chair/Co-Graduate Coordinator: Richard V. Heermance
Live Oak Hall (LO) 1202
(818) 677-2052

Co-Graduate Coordinator: Joshua Schwartz
(818) 677-5813

Program Learning Outcomes

Students receiving a Master of Science in Geology will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate content knowledge appropriate to professional career goals.
  2. Frame novel questions or problems in geology and determine the data required to answer them.
  3. Collect high-quality geologic data using standard techniques and begin to develop state-of-the-art methods.
  4. Apply theoretical, conceptual and observational knowledge to the analysis and interpretation of geologic data.
  5. Compile and critique geologic literature pertinent to original research.
  6. Communicate geologic knowledge, findings and interpretations in reports, both written and oral, that are well organized, well illustrated and professionally presented.