This is an archive of the 2019-2020 University Catalog.
To access the most recent version, Please visit

This is an archive of the 2019-2020 University Catalog.
To access the most recent version, please visit


Program: M.S., Geology


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. For Admission to the M.S. in Geology Program

  1. B.S. degree in Geology or its equivalent. B.S. degree must contain at least 4 units of field geology courses and include a significant field mapping experience and a substantial written field report. Students who do not have appropriate coursework may be conditionally admitted to the program, but they will be required to complete any deficient coursework without graduate credit during their first year of residence.
  2. University requirements for admission, with the exception that the GPA in the last 60 units must be 2.75. Those applicants with a GPA in the last 60 units of between 2.5 and 2.75 may still be admitted if the average of the scores on the General Aptitude portion of the Graduate Record Examination is 50th percentile or greater.
  3. Undergraduate Geology GPA at or above 3.0, or strong written support of a faculty sponsor in the department.
  4. Graduate Record Examination, General Aptitude only. Scoring at or above the 50th percentile on at least one section.

B. For the Degree

Completion, with a “B” average (3.0) or higher, of 30 units of approved graduate study, including a minimum of 21 units of 500- and 600-level courses. Completion and successful oral defense of a thesis is required.

1. Required Courses (8 units)

GEOL 590 Literature Seminar (1)
GEOL 694 Graduate Thesis Research Design (1)
GEOL 696 Directed Graduate Research (3)
GEOL 698 Thesis or Graduate Project (3)

2. Electives (22 units)

Electives should be selected with approval of the student’s primary advisor and graduate coordinator from 400-, 500- and 600-level courses in geology or other fields relevant to thesis work. One 400- or 500-level course must include a lab or field component. A maximum of 9 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. Service as a teaching assistant in the department may be advised as part of the student’s educational experience.

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

More information

For more information about this program, please contact


Department of Geological Sciences
Chair: Kathleen Marsaglia
Live Oak Hall (LO) 1202
(818) 677-3541

Graduate Coordinator: Elena Miranda
(818) 677-4671

Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Master of Science program will be well prepared to assume responsible positions in industry or in government agencies, serve as instructors in secondary school or community college classrooms, or enter Ph.D. programs at other universities.

At the time of graduation, students 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.