Undergraduate Program in Geology

Students out for an after-dinner stroll on Frozen Lake Vanda, Antartica

"The Earth: A great place to study. - Michael Kirby

The geology major is designed to meet the needs of students with varied educational objectives. The interdisciplinary nature of the undergraduate degree in geology prepares students for a wide variety of scientific and technical jobs, especially in the energy industry or in the environmental and consulting fields. The usual professional level degree in geology, however, is the Master's degree; many of our students continue their education by obtaining MS or PhD degrees, usually at other institutions. For still other students, the geology major is an ancillary part of their career plans, which may include secondary school teaching, a business career, or the practice of law, especially in the field of environmental or water law. To accommodate these various needs, we offer both the BS degree program for professionally oriented students, and the AB degree program for students who intend to pursue other objectives.

Geology is inherently multidisciplinary. Although it clearly has its own unique subject matter, it involves to a significant extent the application of the principles and methodologies of other sciences to the study of the Earth and the history of life on Earth. Thus an understanding of geology requires a basic background in math, physics, and chemistry as well as familiarity with other fields such as biology and material science. In order to study the Earth itself, however, geologists need thorough training in the application of these different fields to the specific problems in geology as well as in the practical aspects of geological field and laboratory work.

We have chosen to emphasize basic principles, field techniques, and analytical skills in the curriculum for geology majors. Our philosophy is that such training provides the best foundation on which students can build a career and from which they can continue their education. Training in specific applications is best built on a rigorous conceptual framework and is generally provided on the job or in advanced specialty courses. However, the required curricula also allows for flexibility and breadth by including twelve upper division elective units, which a student can use to obtain more specialized training in a particular field of geology or in related physical or biological sciences. Our discussions with recruiters from oil and environmental companies, as well as the experiences of our own students after graduation, support our belief that the basic orientation of our program has served our students well.


Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences information:

UC Davis information:

UCD College of Letters and Science: