Undergraduate Programs

Undergraduate degree programs

Bachelor of Science degrees in Geology, Earth Sciences, and Geophysics

Undergraduate majors in Earth Sciences

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences currently offers three undergraduate degree programs: Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees in Geology, Earth Sciences, and Geophysics. In addition, we offer Minor options in Geology, Geophysics and Global Climate Change.

Earth Science degrees cover all scientific studies related to the planet Earth, including the study of Earth composition, structure, processes, and history. The degree programs include the study of the organisms that inhabit our planet, how natural hazards affect society, and the past, present and future of climate change. Our B.S. programs in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences place substantial emphasis on preparing students for graduate study and a wide range of rewarding careers. The B.A. degree, on the other hand, is designed for students who wish to teach general science or earth science at a secondary school level, and combines training in general science and pedagogy with concentrated study in general geology.

Please select the appropriate link below to learn more.

  • Geology Major

    Major Requirements

    The Department offers four options within the Geology Major: General Geology, Geobiology, Global Climate Change, and Geophysics. Students who choose the Geology major study the structure, composition, processes and history of the Earth. In particular, the Geology major stresses features of the Earth's surface, and interactions between its atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, rocky crust and interior.

    General Geology Option: Students entering the General Geology option study the nature, distribution, age and origin of minerals, rocks and their contained fossils, placed within a global framework of the Earth as an evolving geologic system.

    Global Climate Change Option: The Global Climate Change option immerses students in the first principles of studying and interpreting the record of climate change. Students explore the sciences of climate change and its impact on society.

    Geobiology Option: The Geobiology option offers broad-based geological training combined with a special emphasis on paleontology and organism/time interactions.

    Geophysics Option: The Geophysics option is for geology students who wish to learn more about geophysical theories and techniques, and how they can be used to solve geological problems. Students who are interested in a career in geophysics are recommended to pursue the Geophysics Major.

    What can I do with a Degree from Earth Sciences?

    Jobs in the Geology field are starting at $50,000 for B.S. degrees.

    • Economic Geologist
    • Engineering Geologist
    • Environmental Geologist
    • Environmental Impact Report Writer
    • Exploration Geologist
    • Geothermal Energy Specialist
    • Groundwater Geologist
    • Hydrologist/Hydrogeologist
    • Instructor/Lecturer/Professor
    • Marine Geologist
    • Mining Geologist
    • Naturalist
    • Paleontologist
    • Park Ranger
    • Petroleum Geologist
    • Technical Writer/Editor
    • Vertebrate Paleontologist
    • Volcanologist
  • Earth Sciences Major

    Check back soon for details...

  • Geophysics Major

    Major Requirements 
    Geophysics is the study of the Earth by quantitative physical methods. Students who choose the Geophysics major employ field, laboratory and computational methods to study the problems in Earth Science. Geophysics includes geodesy, geomagnetism, hydrology, mineral physics, seismology, and volcanology, among other fields. Geophysics uses analytical and mathematical, rather than purely descriptive, techniques.

    What can I do with a Degree in Geophysics?

    Jobs in the Geophysics field are starting at $50,000 for B.S. degrees.

    • Seismologist
    • OIl/Gas Exploration Geophysicist
    • Mineral Exploration Geophysicist
    • Environmental Geophysicist
    • Earth Observation/Remote Sensing Specialist
    • Hydrologist/Hydrogeologist
    • Instructor/Lecturer/Professor
    • Marine Geophysicist
    • Geotechnical  Engineer
    • Geophysical Surveyor
    • Land Planner
    • Hazard Assessor
    • Computer Software Developer
    • Marine Geophysicist
    • Technical Writer/Editor
    • Planetologist
    • Volcanologist
  • Geology Minor Options

    Students who wish to Minor in Geology, Geophysics, or Global Climate Change must complete 20-28 units of organized upper division courses in Earth Sciences.  A minimum of 16 of these units must be unique to the minor and cannot be used to satisfy major requirements.  Due to course prerequisites, additional preparatory coursework in Earth Sciences and other sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics) may be required.

Undergraduate Advising

Faculty Mentoring

Undergraduate advising in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is designed to allow you close professional contact with our faculty and staff. Each student is assigned a mentor who is a faculty member with a Ph.D. This mentor has two functions:

  1. Provide advice regarding career goals
  2. Integrate you as soon and as thoroughly as possible into the community of research geoscientists that is your department

Types of questions that you should ask a mentor:

  • Should I learn Fortran or C++?
  • Where are the best Ph.D. programs in hydrogeology?
  • What electives are best for engineering geology?
  • Is ESRI a good company to work for?
  • What is the use of the integral calculus I'm learning?
  • Would you look over my resume?
  • Could I do a senior thesis on fossil sponges?
  • Should I take a physical chemistry course?
  • What advantage would a Masters degree give me?
  • What is state registration?

For more information, contact our Faculty Advisor:

Curriculum Advising

In addition, the department has a course curriculum advisor who can answer any questions regarding University policies and procedures. To ensure uniform interpretation of these rules, the curriculum advisor keeps your records, checks your registration each quarter, and advises you on your schedule of classes.

Types of questions that you should ask a curriculum advisor:

  • Will these courses be OK next quarter?
  • Did my history class transfer?
  • Must I take English next quarter?
  • Can I graduate next spring?
  • May I go part time?
  • What does "subject to dismissal" mean?
  • How do I change my major to geophysics?
  • Can I take this class S/NC?
  • May I take a summer course at Berkeley?
  • What summer field camps are open this year?
  • May I repeat that class?

For more information, contact our Undergraduate Curriculum Advisor:

Michelle Butler
Professional Academic Advisor 
1223 Pierce Hall 
Riverside, CA 92521 
(951) 827-3581 (Voice) 




Undergraduate Activities

Undergraduates in our department enjoy all the benefits of a small department and the resources of a large university. For example, we have a department-wide BBQ every Friday in our courtyard where undergraduates can mingle with their peers, graduate students, staff, and faculty alike. Some activities our students participate in include:

Geology Student Organization (GSO), a student-led geology club that holds biweekly meetings and organizes field trips. Connect with them on Facebook:

Follow GSO

Geoscience Education Outreach Program (GEOP), our department's efforts to reach out to the general public and our local community through tours of our museum or labs, by showcasing hands-on earth science at community events, or through visits to local schools.

UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP), where students can spend a semester or a year at one of over 30 different universities globally, paying their normal UC tuition while earning credit for classes that count towards their UCR graduation.

Field Trips

Faculty and students in the Earth and Planetary Sciences department take many field trips all over southern California and beyond for courses in all sub-disciplines throughout the year.

  • Geo 11 Global Climate Change

    Geo 011 Global Climate Change Students visited the White Mountain Research Station in the Eastern Sierra & Bristle Cone Pines & Owens Lake .

  • Reflections of Field Studies of Geo 101

    For six days we will be in the Calico Mountains mapping folded sedimentary strata of Miocene age. For four days in the San Bernardino Mountains, near Landers, we practice mapping intrusive and extrusive igneous rocks.

  • Trips to Marble Mountains

    Undergraduate classes, Geo majors and non Geo majors have the chance to go on  field trips to the Mojave Desert.  Students get the opportunity to collect trilobite fossils at the Marble Mountains, visit an extinct volcanic crater at Amboy and walk on the salt flats at Bristol Dry Lake.

  • Graduate Volcanology Field Trip to Hawaii

    In October 2009 we took a group of students to the Big Island, Hawaii as part of the graduate volcanology course.

  • White Mountain Research Station and Mono Lake

    A high altitude and alpine research complex, composed of four facilities, located at different elevations on the peaks of White Mountain.

  • Weekend trips to local sites

    During the spring quarter the spring field class will be going most weekends to Mule Canyon in the Calico Hills or Ruby Mountain in the Eastern San Bernardino Mountains.

Undergraduate Courses

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences offers a variety of classes in geology, climate science, geophysics, geochemistry and paleontology. A full and up-to-date list can be obtained from the UCR Catalog.

  • Spring Quarter Courses

    Undergraduate courses

    GEO 002 Earth's Climate Through Time

    GEO 003 Headlines in the History of Life

    GEO 004V Natural Hazards and Disasters 

    GEO 008 Earthquake Country 

    GEO 011 Climate Change and Sustainability 

    GEO 101 Field Geology 

    GEO 111 Numerical Skills in Geoscience 

    GEO 118 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy 

    GEO 136 Introduction to Molecular and Petroleum Geochemistry 

    GEO 145 Applied and Exploration Geophysics

    GEO 147 Active Tectonics and Remote Sensing

    GEO 162 Geomorphology

    Graduate courses

    GEO 240 Seminar in Earthquake Processes and Geophysics

    GEO 250 Graduate Seminar in Geological Sciences

    GEO 251I Advanced Topics in Paleontology

    GEO 254 Topics in Paleobiology

    GEO 264 Biochemical Cycles Through Time

    Please visit the Course Catalog for more information including course descriptions, times, and registration status of these classes.

How to Apply

Visit the Undergraduate Admissions website:

Undergraduate Application

For more information, contact our Undergraduate Advisor:

Michelle Butler
Professional Academic Advisor 
1223 Pierce Hall 
Riverside, CA  92521 
(951) 827-3581 (Voice)