Planning your GEL Major

Read below for sample academic plans and the list of elective courses for the Geology major. Please visit academic advising to plan your specific path to a Geology degree.

COVID-19 update (posted 5/19/2021): GEL 110A and GEL 110B are approved to take place in-person in Summer 2021 with limited enrollment. To register, contact Mandy Rousseau. Students will need to return a COVID agreement before receiving the CRN."

4-year Students | GEL Sample Academic Plans

4-year Students | GEL Sample Academic Plans

The information here is provided for your convenience; classes are subject to change. Please speak with a geology major advisor for the latest information on a geology major study plan. These are just major classes, so be sure to check MyDegree.ucdavis.edu for any additional degree requirements, including General Education and your College English Composition Requirement (UWP 104E is recommended).

Classes in italics must stay in the quarter they’re listed, although not always in the year listed.

The following classes are recommended for those who intend to pursue graduate degrees but are not necessarily required for the Bachelor of Science degree in Geology: MAT 21D, MAT 22A, MAT 22B, PHY 9D.

Year 1

  • Fall Quarter Total: 8-9 units
    • Math 16A or 17A or 21A: Calculus (3-4)
    • Chemistry 2A: General Chemistry (5)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 8-9 units
    • Math 16B or 17B or 21B: Calculus (3-4)
    • Chemistry 2B: General Chemistry (5)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 8-9 units
    • Math 16C or 17C: Calculus (3-4)
    • Geology 50: Physical Geology (3)
    • Geology 50L: Physical Geology Lab (2)

Year 2

  • Fall Quarter Total: 3-6 units
    • Math 22A: Linear Algebra (3) - unless doing 17 series
    • Geology 55: Geochemistry (3)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 7-8 units
    • Physics 7A or 9A: Physics (4-5)
    • Geology 53: Geobiology (3)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 8 units
    • Physics 7B or 9B: Physics (4-5)
    • STA 13 or 32 or 100: Statistics (4)

There are 2 Options for Years 3 and 4:
Option 1: Structure Coursework first | Option 2: Petrology Coursework first


Year 3 and 4 Option 1: Structure Coursework first

Junior - Structure Coursework
  • Fall Quarter Total: 13 units
    • Geology 60: Earth Materials (4)
    • Geology 56: Geophysics (4)
    • Geology 109: Sediments and Strata (3)
    • Geology 109L: Sediments and Strata Lab (2)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 8 units
    • Geology 101: Structural Geology (3)
    • Geology 101L: Structural Geology Lab (2)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 7 units
    • Geology 103: Field Geology (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110A: Summer Field Geology (4)*
SeniorPetrology Coursework
  • Fall Quarter Total: 6 units
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 7 units
    • Geology 105: Igneous Rocks (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 11 units
    • Geology 107: Paleobiology (3)
    • Geology 107L: Paleobiology (2)
    • Geology 108: Paleoclimates (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110B: Summer Field Geology (4)*
    • Geology 110C: Summer Field Geology (4)*

*Choose two; can be taken over multiple summers or during same summer

Year 3 and 4 Option 2: Petrology Coursework first

Junior - Petrology Coursework
  • Fall Quarter Total: 13 units
    • Geology 60: Earth Materials (4)
    • Geology 56: Geophysics (4)
    • Geology 109: Sediments and Strata (3)
    • Geology 109L: Sediments and Strata Lab (2)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 7 units
    • Geology 105: Igneous Rocks (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 9 units
    • Geology 108: Paleoclimates (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110B: Summer Field Geology (4)*
Senior - Structure Coursework
  • Fall Quarter Total: 8 units
    • Geology 107: Paleobiology (3)
    • Geology 107L: Paleobiology Lab (2)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 5 units
    • Geology 101: Structural Geology (3)
    • Geology 101L: Structural Geology Lab (2)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 10 units
    • Geology 103: Field Geology (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110A: Summer Field Geology (4)*
    • Geology 110C: Summer Field Geology (4)*

*Choose two; can be taken over multiple summers or during same summer

Updated April 2020

2-year Transfer Students | GEL Sample Academic Plans

2-year Transfer Students | GEL Sample Academic Plans

The following are sample study plans. They assume you've completed the preparatory coursework.

The information here is provided for your convenience; classes are subject to change. Please speak with a geology major advisor for the latest information on a geology major study plan. These are just major classes, so be sure to check MyDegree.ucdavis.edu for any additional degree requirements, including General Education and your College English Composition Requirement (UWP 104E is recommended).

Classes in italics must stay in the quarter they’re listed, although not always in the year listed.

The following classes are recommended for those who intend to pursue graduate degrees but are not necessarily required for the Bachelor of Science degree in Geology: MAT 21D, MAT 22A, MAT 22B, PHY 9D.


There are 2 Options for Transfer Students
Option 1: Structure Coursework first | Option 2: Petrology Coursework first
GEL Transfer Options (pdf)


GEL Transfer Option 1: Structure Coursework first

Transfer Option 1 focuses on the structure coursework first, like Structural Geology, Spring Field Geology, and Sediments and Strata. It allows students to take GEL 110A: Summer Field: Structure and Neotectonics their first summer. This option may be preferable to students who enjoy these topics, and want to participate in further coursework, research, or internships in structural geology their senior year.

Junior Academic Year | Structure coursework
  • Fall Quarter Total: 13 units
    • Geology 60: Earth Materials (4)
    • Geology 109: Sediments and Strata (3)
    • Geology 109L: Sediments and Strata Lab (2)
    • Geology 56: Geophysics (4)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 11 units
    • Geology 53: Geobiology (3)
    • Geology 101: Structural Geology (3)
    • Geology 101L: Structural Geology Lab (2)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 6 units
    • Geology 103: Spring Field Geology (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110A: Summer Field Geology (4)*
Senior Academic Year | Petrology coursework
  • Fall Quarter Total: 11 units
    • Geology 55: Geochemistry (3)
    • Geology 107: Paleobiology (3)
    • Geology 107L: Paleobiology Lab (2
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 10 units
    • Geology 105: Igneous Rocks (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 6 units
    • Geology 108: Paleoclimates (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110B: Summer Field Geology (4)*
    • Geology 110C: Summer Field Geology (4)*

*Choose two; can be taken over multiple summers or during same summer


GEL Transfer Option 2: Petrology Coursework first

Transfer Option 2  focuses on the petrology coursework first, like Igneous Petrology. That class, along with Mineraology and Sediments and Strata allows students to take GEL 110B: Summer Field: Volcanology their first summer. This option may be preferable to students who enjoy hard rock petrology, and want to participate in further coursework, research, or internships in this area their senior year.

Junior Academic Year | Petrology coursework 
  • Fall Quarter Total: 12 units
    • Geology 60: Earth Materials (4)
    • Geology 109: Sediments and Strata (3)
    • Geology 109L: Sediments and Strata Lab (2)
    • Geology 55: Geochemistry (3)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 10 units
    • Geology 53: Geobiology (3)
    • Geology 105: Igneous Rocks (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 9 units
    • Geology 108: Paleoclimates (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110B: Summer Field Geology (4)*
Senior Academic Year | Structure coursework
  • Fall Quarter Total: 12 units
    • Geology 56: Geophysics (4)
    • Geology 107: Paleobiology (3)
    • Geology 107L: Paleobiology Lab (2)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 5 units
    • Geology 101: Structural Geology (3)
    • Geology 101L: Structural Geology Lab (2)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 10 units
    • Geology 103: Field Geology (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110A: Summer Field Geology (4)*
    • Geology 110C: Summer Field Geology (4)*

*Choose two; can be taken over multiple summers or during same summer

Updated April 2020

Upper Division Electives

[ UC Davis General Catalog ] [ UC Davis General Catalog Geology section ]

The upper division electives are not restricted to geology (GEL) courses but must be chosen to provide a relevant, coherent, and in-depth program of study. Last updated 12/2020

  • Choose from courses GEL 130-194 or pre-selected non-GEL courses.
  • Only one of GEL/EDU 181 or 183 or 185A or 185B or 186 may be applied toward elective credit.
  • No more than three units of upper division elective credit for courses GEL 115-120.
  • No more than six units of upper division elective credit for GEL 192 or 194A-B or 194HA-HB.
    • Students who receive approval to do a senior thesis for part of the capstone requirement may not use 194A-B or 194HA-HB for the upper division elective courses.
  • Pre-selected non-GEL courses:
    • CHE 100 – Environmental Water Chemistry (3 units)
    • ECI 171+171L – Soil Mechanics (5 units)
    • ECI 175 – Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering (4 units)
    • ESM 100 – Principles of Hydrologic Science (4 units)
    • ESM 186 – Environmental Remote Sensing (5 units)
    • ESP 152 – Coastal Oceanography (3 units)
    • HYD 144 – Groundwater Hydrology (4 units)
    • HYD 146 – Hydrogeology and Contaminant Transport (5 units)
    • LDA 150/ABT 150 – Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (4 units)
    • Cross-enrollment online class at UCLA: Geography 168 – Intermediate GIS (4 units) (this course counts as UC Davis’ LDA/ABT 150, so students cannot take both)
    • SSC 100 – Principles of Soil Science (5 units)
    • WFC 102+102L – Ecogeomorphology (1 unit) / Lab (6 units)
    • Other courses in related fields must be approved in advance by the major advisor.

GEL Upper Division Electives list:

  • Academic Year 2021-2022 (pdf; updated 5/19/2021)
  • Fall 2021
    • GEL 131 – Risks and Natural Hazards (3) Rundle
    • GEL 140 – Introduction to Process Geomorphology (4) Pinter
    • GEL 181 – Math and Science Teaching – Middle School (2) Salim
    • GEL 183 – Math and Science Teaching – High School (3) Pinter
    • GEL 186 – Learning Assistant Seminar (1) Stevenson
    • GEL 190 – Seminar (1) TBD
  • Winter 2022
    • GEL 133 – Environmental Geochemistry (3) Mukhopadhyay
    • GEL 141 – Evolutionary History of Vertebrates (3) Motani
    • GEL 150B – Geological Oceanography (3) McKinley
    • GEL 160 – Geological Data Analysis (3) Rudolph
    • GEL 181 – Math and Science Teaching – Middle School (2) Salim
    • GEL 183 – Math and Science Teaching – High School (3) Pinter
    • GEL 186 – Learning Assistant Seminar (1) Stevenson
    • GEL 190 – Seminar (1) TBD
  • Spring 2022
    • GEL 115 – Earth Science, History, and People (4) Sumner
    • GEL 116N – Oceanography (3) McKinley
    • GEL 120 – Big Bang to Today (3) Osleger
    • GEL 136 – Ecogeomorphology of Rivers & Streams (5) Pinter
    • GEL 144 – Historical Ecology (3) Vermeij
    • GEL 150A – Physical & Chemical Oceanography (4) Gaylord
    • GEL 181 – Math and Science Teaching – Middle School (2) Salim
    • GEL 183 – Math and Science Teaching – High School (3) Pinter
    • GEL 186 – Learning Assistant Seminar (1) Stevenson
    • GEL 190 – Seminar (1) TBD
  • Summer 2022
    • GEL 150C – Biological Oceanography (4) Hill

Other courses to consider:

  • ENG 006—Engineering Problem Solving (4 units) – appropriate for non-engineering majors. A good introduction to programming and MATLAB.
  • ECI 016—Spatial Data Analysis (2 units) – teaches CAD and GIS. No prerequisites. Offered in Spring.

General Education classes to consider:

  • HYD 150—Water Law (3 units) GE credit: ACGH, SS.
  • NAS 161—California Indian Environmental Policy I (4 units) GE credit: ACGH, DD, SS, WE. No prerequisites. Offered Spring of odd-numbered years.
  • NAS 162—California Indian Environmental Policy II (4 units) GE credit: ACGH, DD, SS, WE. No prerequisites.
  • SAS 018—GIS & Society (3 units) GE credit: QL, SE, SL, SS, VL.
  • STS 001—Introduction to Science, Technology & Medicine Studies (4 units) GE credit: SS, WE. Learn how society and science affect each other.
  • STS 011—Science on Trial: Law, Science, & Technology in the United States (4 units) GE credit: ACGH, SS. An introduction to law and science in America.
  • STS 101—Data & Society (4 units) GE credit: QL, SS. Learn to analyze and visualize data about some of today's most challenging social problems. Add data analysis to your portfolio of skills.
  • STS 180—Topics in Science & Technology Studies (4 units) GE credit: SS.