Jul 15, 2024  
2023-2024 Cal State East Bay Catalog 
2023-2024 Cal State East Bay Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environmental Geosciences, M.S.

Environmental Geosciences, M.S. Program

Program Description

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences offers graduate study leading to the Master of Science degree in Environmental Geosciences, focusing on near surface and environmental geology, seismic hazards and Bay Area tectonics, and water and soil characterization and remediation.

This program is designed to prepare students for:

  1. employment as geologists and environmental scientists in government (city, county, regional, state, and federal) and private consulting firms (environmental, engineering, and geotechnical firms, mining and oil companies, etc.);
  2. professional licensing requirements;
  3. doctoral study in environmental science, geology, geochemistry, and geophysics; and
  4. teaching at the Community College level

The department also provides continuing education for professional geologists, engineers, planners, etc.

Our M.S. program is unique in the bay area in that many courses are offered in the evenings, and augmented by field experiences. Graduate seminars address diverse subjects; for example, geochemical evolution of groundwater, natural tracers of geologic processes, tectonic geomorphology, earthquake hazards, bay area tectonics, near-surface geophysics, and modern depositional environments. We maintain strong connections with East Bay Regional Parks, the California Environmental Protection Agency, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, NASA Ames, the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. 

Candidates for the M.S. degree will engage in significant, guided, individual research. Recent M.S. thesis and project research topics include near surface geophysics, groundwater dating, groundwater nitrate source identification, local catchment characterization, surface water-groundwater interaction, geologic mapping, slope stability, geochemistry, Bay Area structural geology, engineering geology, and neotectonics. Prospective candidates should determine whether their research interests coincide with those of the faculty members before applying to the program. We invite interested persons to contact the department faculty directly for more details on the program. The Graduate Coordinator provides guidance that enables students to complete the requirements for advancement in the graduate program.

Career Opportunities

  • Scientist for federal, state, or local regulatory, governmental, or research agency
  • Project leader, geologist, or hydrogeologist at environmental consulting company
  • Geologist or geophysicist for energy company
  • Instructor at community college
  • Engineering geologist for consulting company or regulatory agency
  • Research scientist at National Laboratory

Admission Requirements

The M.S. degree program is open to any student in possession of a baccalaureate degree in Geology, Environmental Science, or a closely related field, with coursework substantially equivalent to the core requirements for the B.S. degree in Geology or Environmental Science at CSU East Bay. Students who do not meet those requirements will be considered on an individual basis and accepted only after approval by a majority of regular faculty members.

Students may be admitted with “Conditionally Classified Graduate” until the qualifications listed under “Classified Graduate” status below are satisfied.

Applicants must have a GPA of at least 2.75 in all undergraduate work. Any undergraduate core course with a “D” grade will have to be repeated. Students transferring from another graduate program must have a GPA of at least 3.0 in all graduate geology or environmental science courses. (No more than 12 units may be transferred.)

Applications must be accompanied by two letters of recommendation from faculty members or work supervisors.

Student Standing and Progress Toward the Degree

Conditionally Classified Graduate Status

Students who are otherwise qualified but have course deficiencies will be accepted as “Conditionally Classified Graduate” students. Course deficiencies may be removed by enrolling on either a “CR/NC” or graded basis.

Classified Graduate Status

Students who fulfill all the requirements for admission to the program will be accorded “Classified Graduate” status. All deficiencies have to be removed no later than the completion of 12 units of coursework applicable to the degree or the student may be disqualified.

Selection of Thesis/Project or Academic Advisor

Students should meet with an academic advisor upon enrollment. Students will choose a thesis or project advisor based on their area of interest and faculty availability. Students should contact a prospective research advisor prior to applying but research topics may change during the first year when the focus is on coursework.

Advancement to Candidacy

In order to be Advanced to Candidacy, the student must have:

  1. been accorded “Classified Graduate” status
  2. been assigned a thesis or graduate project advisor; and
  3. submitted to the department an acceptable Prospectus describing the thesis research or graduate project work to be attempted (guidelines for preparation of the Prospectus may be obtained from the department office). The research topic must be approved in advance by the advisor.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with an M.S. in Environmental Geosciences will:

Demonstrate advanced knowledge of geologic materials, processes & time (Knowledge)

  1. Recognize and understand the fundamental geological processes, complex system interactions, distribution of natural resources, the magnitude and importance of geologic time, and its role in geologic processes and evolution.
  2. Understand and apply principles of chemistry and physics to geologic and environmental issues.
  3. Understand the fundamental principles and subjects that form the core topics of Earth Science.

Demonstrate proficiency in geological and environmental field, computing and laboratory applications  (Synthesis)

  1. Can identify and classify, in the field, basic geologic materials, including minerals, rocks, fossils, structures, and landforms.
  2. Can collect, describe and organize samples of geologic and environmental materials in support of field investigations.
  3. Can create basic types of geologic maps with standard geology symbols, using standard field measurement techniques and equipment.
  4. Can perform basic types of geologic analysis, such as lithostratigraphic and biostratigraphic correlation, map construction, geophysical and hydrogeological studies, and cross-section construction.
  5. Can visualize and comprehend geological materials or structures in 3D based on 1D and 2D data sets.
  6. Is competent in basic computer tools and software, and Internet utilization, and can utilize appropriate software for geological and environmental analysis.

Perform original research by integration and analysis of geologic and environmental information and data sets (Research)

  1. Can interpret geological terrains (local & regional) by synthesis of literature, field and laboratory studies, to create maps, sections and reports that accurately and effectively illustrate the surficial distribution and 3D geometry of geologic materials and structures (rock, faults, geo-fluids, hazardous waste, etc.).
  2. Can access, critically read and critique research literature and geologic datasets (2D and 3D) using discipline-specific methods, techniques and equipment.
  3. Can analyze, interpret, and integrate diverse datasets to address and solve geological and scientific problems.

Demonstrate skills in effective oral and written communication in multiple contexts, including collaborative work and professional settings (Communication)

  1. Can effectively communicate orally using prepared presentations at the professional meeting level
  2. Understands the importance of hearing, considering and integrating competing and/or contrary points of view to the scientific process.
  3. Can work responsibly as a member of a team, demonstrate professional levels of conduct, and communicate effectively with team members through personal and electronic means.

P articipate in an ethical community of scientists who recognize the importance of sustainability, the role of science in society, and the value of life-long learning (Global)

  1. Understands Earth’s place in the Universe, global-scale processes such as climate change, plate tectonics, earth systems interactions and rates, and the forcing factors/feedbacks that control them.
  2. Has the breadth of education necessary to understand the importance of the Earth Sciences and technology in a global and societal context, and understands the effect of resource consumption on, and the importance of local-to-global-scale sustainability efforts.
  3. Applies knowledge of contemporary issues, such as sustainable resource development and the prediction of geological hazards.
  4. Carries out responsibilities in a professional and ethical manner.

Degree Requirements

  • Advancement to Candidacy
  • Satisfaction of university requirements described in the Graduate Degree Requirements, Policies, & Other Information chapter in this catalog. These include the 22-unit residence requirement, the five-year rule on currency of subject matter, the minimum number of units of 600-level courses, and the 3.00 GPA.
  • Completion of the study plan outlined below.
  • Completion and defense of the University Thesis or completion (and defense, as required by the department) of the graduate Project.

Environmental Geosciences Degree Requirements (31 units)

Core Courses

A total of 15 units of core coursework is required as outlined:

Elective Courses

Students who will complete their degree with a Thesis (see capstone requirements) must complete 10 elective units chosen from the coursework outlined below.

Students who will complete their degree with a Project (see capstone requirements) must complete 14 elective units chosen from the coursework outlined below.

Capstone Requirements

Students must choose one (1) of the following capstone courses to complete their degree:

University Thesis (must be taken for a total of 6 units)

Students choosing the Thesis capstone experience must submit to the Thesis Committee, and defend orally, an acceptable University Thesis. The University Thesis is a formal paper reporting the results of original research. This research normally involves modeling, field, and/or laboratory investigation. The thesis is submitted to the university in the format specified in the “University Thesis Writing Guide,” www.csueastbay.edu/thesiswritingguide. The Thesis Committee comprises the faculty thesis advisor plus either (1) two other faculty members from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences or other appropriate California State University East Bay faculty, or (2) one other faculty member from the department and one or more qualified individuals from outside the university.

Graduate Project (must be taken for a total of 2 units)

Students choosing the Project capstone experience must submit to the department an abstract and acceptable graduate project (for example: manuscript, map, computer model, education module). An oral defense may be required.


Other Graduate & Post-Baccalaureate Degree Requirements

In addition to departmental requirements, every student must also satisfy the University requirements for graduation as described throughout this catalog. These include the 70% unit residence requirement; the five-year rule on currency of subject matter; the minimum number of units in 600-level courses; the “C” minimum grade for each graduate course; and the 3.00 cumulative grade point average.

Department Courses Listed by Course Type

Earth and Environmental Sciences Courses

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Go to information for this department.


Environmental Science

Environmental Science: Graduate


Geology: Graduate