Geology Graduate Programs in California

Students desiring a graduate degree in geology have a large selection of California institutions to choose from. Explore the degrees, curriculum, and admissions criteria for five graduate programs.

Interested students can complete their master's and doctoral degrees in geology at the five California schools below. One of the schools offers a coterminal master's program.

School Comparison

This chart provides details on two private and three public California universities.

Institution Location Average Graduate Tuition and Fees (2017-2018)*
California State University - Long Beach Long Beach, CA $8,164 (in-state) / $17,668 (out-of-state)
San Jose State University San Jose, CA $9,155 (in-state) / $18,659 (out-of-state)
San Diego State University San Diego, CA $8,894 (in-state) / $18,398 (out-of-state)
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA $49,785
Stanford University Stanford, CA $49,617

Source: *National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES)

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California Geology Graduate Degree Programs

California State University - Long Beach

California State University - Long Beach awards a Master of Science in Geology. Students can choose from a variety of specialty areas, such as marine geology, environmental geochemistry, and geophysics. They write a master's thesis during the program. Potential students need to submit an application to the university as well as the Department of Geological Sciences. The university application costs $55 and requires the submission of official transcripts and an official GRE score report. Students need to supply their unofficial transcripts and three recommendation letters to the department.

San Jose State University

Students can earn their Master of Science in Geology at San Jose State University. It is a 30-credit program that includes four semester units for a master's thesis. Students present their master's thesis in front of the department faculty. Program coursework includes advanced paleontology and advanced geology.

San Jose has a two-step admissions process. First, students must apply to the university. They will need to complete the university's online form and send their formal transcripts. A general admission requirement is that students possess a bachelor's degree. The second step is to complete a departmental application that includes the following:

  • Graduate questionnaire
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • Three recommendation letters
  • Recommendation release form

It should be noted that all master's candidates will need to meet the requirements for a San Jose geology bachelor's degree. This includes 42 credits in science, math, and engineering courses, along with at least four weeks of field camp. Students who do not meet these requirements can complete them after being accepted into the program.

San Diego State University

San Diego State University offers a Master of Science in Geological Sciences. The program is designed to encourage students to engage in independent research in order to enhance their analytical skills. It also offers students the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants during their coursework. Students interested in earning a doctorate can pursue a joint geophysics PhD program through San Diego State and the University of California - San Diego.

Candidates should complete an online university application. They will need to provide documentation like official transcripts, official GRE test results, a departmental application, and two recommendation letters. PhD candidates will need to submit a third recommendation letter in addition to a resume and statement of purpose.

California Institute of Technology

Students can complete their master's and PhD degrees in geology at California Institute of Technology. PhD students earn their master's degree upon completing 135 coursework credits. A PhD is awarded to students who pass an oral examination, meet all coursework requirements, and successfully defend their doctoral thesis in an oral presentation. Students typically complete the program within five years; however, they can petition the department for each additional year needed.

PhD candidates need to enroll full-time in the program. They must supply items like GRE general test scores, transcripts, and three recommendation letters as part of the admissions process. Accepted candidates are given a focus area, such as geology, that is based on their indicated area of interest on their application.

Stanford University

Stanford University also has master's and PhD programs in geological sciences. The coterminal master's degree program allows bachelor's degree students to earn their master's simultaneously or after their bachelor's. During the winter semester before they finish their bachelor's degree, candidates will need to submit an application that consists of a statement of purpose, current transcripts, GRE scores, and two faculty recommendations. Students will need to meet one of the following requirements for graduation:

  • 180 credits for the bachelor's degree plus 45 credits for the master's degree
  • 15 quarters that fulfill coursework requirements for both degrees

PhD candidates must take the GRE. They will need to maintain a 3.0 GPA for all required coursework and complete a teaching assignment. Candidates also complete a doctoral dissertation.

California institutions offer both master's and PhD programs in geology. Some of the programs offer areas of specialization, like marine geology.


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