Graduate Program

Sitting around the campfire on Santa Cruz Island

Sitting around the campfire on Santa Cruz Island

Looking over the topology

Looking over the topology

Jim Boles leads a field trip to Santa Cruz Island

Jim Boles leads a field trip to Santa Cruz Island


Graduate education is a great way of attaining your future career goals. Our graduate program, ranked among the best in the country, leads to the Masters or the Ph.D. in Earth Science degrees in a variety of areas of specialization, plus three optional doctoral emphases and an optional certificate in university teaching. We offer study in geochemistry, geophysics, geomorphology and Quaternary geology, petrology, sedimentology and stratigraphy, tectonics, structural geology and crustal evolution, and paleobiology. Our priority is to provide students an unparalleled academic experience, such that by completion of the program they are exceptional Earth scientists and scholars.

Affordability—If you truly are passionate about helping us better understand our home planet, don't let worries about funding prevent you from joining our program. Admitted students are typically fully supported throughout the duration of their degree program (2 years for MS, 5 years for PhD). We will pay your tuition, your health insurance and, through your work as TA or Graduate Student Researcher, you will earn a modest salary (currently about $20,000 over 9 months) to offset your living expenses. Many of our students get to travel the world with us, from Iceland to Antarctica, and Oman to Vanuatu.

Academic Excellence — Our campus is experiencing phenomenal growth in research activity and academic excellence. Although our Department is smaller than many of its competitors, US News and World Report ranked our graduate program 11th in Geology and 19th in Earth Science amongst all universities in the country. In related fields, Materials Science was ranked 4th and Physics was ranked 10th in the nation. Our graduate students participate in cutting edge research and draw from the experience of a faculty that includes five members of the National Academy of Sciences. UC Santa Barbara excels at interdisciplinary research and takes great prides in its six Nobel laureates. UCSB was named the No. 1 public Green School in the Princeton Review, is the birth place of the practical electron microscope, and was one of the original four nodes of ARPANet, making it a co-creator of the Internet. See UCSB Facts and Figures

Personal Attention — Our focus is on quality. With a lower graduate student/faculty ratio (2/1) than the other top-10 Earth science programs, we listen to each graduate student and provide a remarkable level of individual support and guidance.

Quality of Life — And then there is Santa Barbara where you will enjoy an unrivaled quality of life. Sitting near an active plate margin, with immediate access to islands, ocean, beaches, deserts, and mountains, Santa Barbara is characterized by the active geology and mild climate that enables you to work and recreate comfortably in the field year-round.

Community — We are a warm community of people who love to work and play together. You'll see what we mean when you visit.Students determine their individual program of study in consultation with their primary advisor and thesis committee, in accordance with their special interests and needs. The Faculty Graduate Advisor is available to all students for consultation on all other matters. The Graduate Program Coordinator (telephone 805-893-3329) can help with all questions regarding degree requirements and general administrative matters.

Students are responsible for consulting the campus General Catalog and quarterly Schedule of Classes for University requirements, registration procedures and fee deadlines. If you enter with a BA/BS degree, and are aiming for a Ph.D., you will concentrate on coursework in your first few quarters. During this time you should also select and begin to organize a dissertation research program. The Ph.D. Oral Qualifying Exam (advancement to candidacy) must be taken within one academic year of completing the comprehensive exam (by December 1 of your third year). Ph.D. students generally finish within 3 to 5.5 years of full-time study. Students entering with a completed MA/MS degree generally complete their degrees in less time.

MS students should arrange their studies to finish in not more than two years.

For more detailed information on our graduate program, see the graduate handbook.


Useful Links

Earth Science Graduate Handbook                        UCSB Graduate Student Handbook

General Catalog                                                      TA Handbook

Schedule of Classes                                                 Graduate Forms & Petitions




Graduate Program Advisor
John Cottle

Graduate Program Coordinator
Quinlan Dougherty

Webb 1006

Contact Info
Phone: (805) 893-3329
Fax: (805) 893-2314

Graduate Program Handbook

Career Graduate Placement
Alumni Job Placement (pdf)

Advising Hours
Monday - Friday
9am - 12pm & 1pm - 4pm

Appointments Strongly Recommended

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