Dec 01, 2023  
2016-2017 CSU East Bay Catalog 
2016-2017 CSU East Bay Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geology, M.S.

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Geology (M.S.) 45 units

Program Description

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences offers graduate study leading to the Master of Science degree in Geology. This program is designed to prepare students for:

  1. employment as geologists in government (city, county, regional, state, and federal) and private enterprise (engineering and geotechnical firms, mining and oil companies, etc.);
  2. research at the doctoral level in various aspects of geology, geochemistry, and geophysics depending on their undergraduate background; and
  3. the Community College Instructor Credential (the master’s degree requirement). The department also provides continuing education for professional geologists, engineers, planners, etc.

To serve graduate students who are employed during the day, graduate courses in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences are offered in the evenings. In addition to regular catalog courses, graduate seminars address diverse subjects; recent seminars have focused on mineral deposits, earthquakes hazards, sediment transport, and modern depositional environments. Opportunities exist for access to additional facilities and part-time employment at Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, and the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park. Students registered at Cal State East Bay may enrich their graduate programs by enrolling in courses through cross-registration at the University of California, Berkeley.

Candidates for the M.S. degree must be prepared to engage in significant individual research. Recent student research in this department has included such topics as hydrogeology, near surface geophysics, areal geology and slope stability, geochemistry, structural geology, engineering geology, marine and geothermal geochemistry, neotectonics and marine sedimentology. Prospective candidates should determine whether their research interests coincide with those of the faculty members before applying to the program. Interested persons are invited to contact the department directly for more details on the program. Qualifications and advancement in the graduate program are decided by the department Graduate Coordinator with the concurrence of the department faculty.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with an M.S. in Geology from Cal State East Bay will be able to:

  1. conduct independent geologic research, including preparation of a project or thesis; the result should be of high enough quality to be presented at a professional meeting;
  2. write a technical report based on research carried out on behalf of an employer;
  3. evaluate reports written by other earth scientists, and to use written materials and data sets available from the library and Internet;
  4. communicate complex geological concepts.

Environmental Geology Option

Students who complete a combination of appropriate courses in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and other departments and who complete an environmentally related thesis or project, will be allowed to receive the M.S. degree with the Environmental Geology Option. A list of appropriate courses for the option must be developed in consultation with the department faculty.


With the qualifications listed under “Conditionally Classified Graduate” status below, the M.S. degree program is open to any student in possession of a baccalaureate degree in Geology with coursework equivalent at least to the core requirements for the B.S. degree in Geology at Cal State 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.

Applicants must have a GPA of at least 2.5 in all undergraduate work and at least 2.75 in all geology courses. Any undergraduate geology 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 courses. (No more than 13 units may be transferred.)

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

Conditionally Classified Graduate Status

Students who are otherwise qualified but have course deficiencies and/or have not satisfied the University Writing Skills requirement, will be accepted as “Conditionally Classified Graduate” students. Course deficiencies may be removed by enrolling on a “CR/NC” basis. (Students who wish to develop their writing skills should enroll in ENGL 3000 or ENGL 3001.)

Classified Graduate Status

Students who fulfill all the requirements for admission to the program will be accorded “Classified Graduate” status once they have satisfied the University Writing Skills requirement. All deficiencies have to be removed, and the University Writing Skills requirement satisfied no later than the completion of 20 units of coursework applicable to the degree or the student will be disqualified.

Selection of Thesis/Project or Academic Advisor

Once “Classified Graduate” status has been attained, each student will be assigned a thesis or project advisor by the department chair after consultation with the student and the graduate coordinator. The faculty member chosen also will act as academic advisor.

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 Thesis or graduate Project 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.

Faculty: Research Interests

  • Mitchell S. Craig, Ph.D., 1990, Georgia Institute of Technology; near surface geophysics, seismology, sedimentology
  • Jean Moran, Ph.D., 1994, University of Rochester; hydrogeology, aqueous geochemistry, isotope hydrology
  • Jeffery C. Seitz, Ph.D., 1994, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; geochemistry, petrology, astrobiology, science education
  • Luther M. Strayer, Ph.D., 1998, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; structural geology, tectonics, Bay Area earthquake geology, field geology
  • Michael Massey, Ph.S., 2013, Stanford University; environmental chemistry of nutrients and contaminants in soil, x-ray spectroscopy

Degree Requirements

1. Advancement to Candidacy

2. Satisfaction of university requirements described in the Graduate Degree Information chapter in this catalog. These include the 32-unit residence requirement, the five-year rule on currency of subject matter, the minimum number of units of 6000-level courses, the 3.00 GPA, and the University Writing Skills requirement. For information on meeting the University Writing Skills Requirement, see the Testing Office website at or call 510.885.3661.

3. Completion of the study plan outlined below (45 units)

4. Completion and defense of the University Thesis or completion (and defense, if required) of the graduate Project.

Curricular Requirements (See Errata Chapter for Corrections to this Content)


Students must have completed the prerequisites listed in the course descriptions for any course they use to satisfy the following requirements.  Note: Prerequisite units may not be included in total program units and therefore should be considered when planning your degree roadmap.  Consult with your academic advisor or department for further information concerning prerequisites and degree roadmaps.

Graduate Seminar Requirement

All students are required to take twice for a total of 4 units:

Geology Graduate Courses

Any combination of graduate geology courses and additional seminars must be taken for a total of 20-27 units.

Upper Division Coursework Requirement

Twelve units must be completed in courses selected from a list of approved upper division and graduate courses in Geology and related disciplines which is available from the department office; at least 4 units must be in Geology courses.

University Thesis or Graduate Project

Students are required to complete either:

  • Units: 1-2
  • or

  • Units: 1-9 (must take for 9* units) *students may not register for more thatn 50% of the total units prior to starting the writing of their thesis.

    University Thesis students 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 field and/or laboratory investigation. The thesis is submitted to the university in the bound format specified in the “University Thesis Writing Guide,” A minimum of two copies of the thesis must be submitted to the Thesis Office (Academic Programs and Graduate Studies, Student Services and Administration Building, Suite 4500); one copy will be filed in the Department Office. 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 Cal State East Bay faculty, or (2) one other faculty member from the department and one or more qualified individuals from outside the university.


    Graduate Project students must submit to the department an abstract and acceptable graduate project (manuscript, map, computer model, education module). An oral defense may be required.

Note Unit Limitations:

  • Students cannot receive credit toward the master’s degree for courses taken to remove deficiencies or for GEOL 3898.

Course Descriptions

Use this link to see all Course Descriptions  available throughout this catalog.

Other Graduate & Post-Baccalaureate Degree Requirements

In addition to departmental requirements, every student must also satisfy the university requirements for graduation as described in the Graduate/Post-Baccalaureate Admission and Degree Information  chapter in this catalog. These include the 32-unit residence requirement, the five year rule on currency of subject matter, the minimum number of units of 6000-level courses, the 3.00 grade point average, and the University Writing Skills Requirement. For information on meeting the University Writing Skills Requirement, see the Testing Office website at or call 510.885.3661.

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