Graduate Degree Requirements

grad students with map

The requirements for a graduate degree in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program are detailed in the UC Davis Graduate Studies Graduate Degree Requirements and the Earth and Planetary Sciences Ph.D. and M.S. Degree Requirements.

Students may have a choice of which set of Degree Requirements to follow based on the legacy degree requirements policy. Visit the Graduate Studies website for most policies and forms.

  • Registration Requirements
  • Graduate Studies requires that students register for 12 units of upper division or graduate courses per quarter. The Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program requires that students enroll in GEL 290, the weekly department seminar, each quarter throughout their degree (for Master’s students) and until passing the qualifying exam (for PhD students; continued enrollment in 290 is recommended after passing the qualifying exam). All new students must enroll in GEL 390 during their first Fall quarter in the program.

    English Language Requirement. Students who have not obtained a previous degree at an approved English-medium institution or demonstrated English-language proficiency through an appropriate exam (e.g. TOEFL) are required to complete appropriate English-language courses, as described in the policy Graduate Student Course Requirements – English as a Second Language (GC2018-02). Courses taken in satisfaction of this requirement do not count towards the units required for graduation.

    Filing Fee. Students who have completed all program requirements except the thesis/dissertation and public department seminar may choose to go on Filing Fee for their final quarter only. Find out more and apply using the Filing Fee Application and Regulations form.

    Changing the degree objective from M.S. degree to Ph.D. degree. Consult the Earth and Planetary Sciences Ph.D. and M.S. Degree Requirements for information on how to change between degree objectives.

  • Course Requirements
  • Classes should be chosen in consultation with the advisory committee and can be in Geology or other appropriate fields. Classes may be upper-division or graduate level. M.S. students must complete 5 courses for at least 12 units. Ph.D. students must complete 8 courses for at least 22 units. All students must take one (3-unit) graduate course each from three of the discipline areas below (breadth courses). Students are encouraged to take GEL 281N, GEL 175, and/or GEL 160.

        1. paleobiology: 260, 261, 262
        2. sedimentology/paleoenvironments: 205, 206, 226, 228, 232
        3. structure/tectonics: 214, 216, 218, 219, 220, 295, 296
        4. petrology/geochemistry: 206, 227, 246, 247, 250, 251, 253, 254, 255, 285
        5. environmental geology/geomorphology/resources: 230, 235
        6. geophysics: 217, 219, 236, 238, 240, 241, 242
        7. planetary science: 244, 245

    View the graduate courses offered each year.

    The remainder of the 30 total units (for M.S.) or 72 total units (for Ph.D.) must be made up of additional graduate and upper division courses, including at least 12 units of research (GEL 299) credit.

  • Required Meetings and Departmental Forms
  • Fall Quarter
        • Introductory Meeting: First-year students will meet with two Graduate Advisors prior to the start of the quarter to discuss their program of study, courses, and other administrative topics.

    Winter Quarter
         • Mid-year Meeting: All students will meet with the Graduate Program Chair to discuss administrative issues and academic goals towards the student’s progress.

    Spring Quarter
         •
    Prospectus Meeting: First-year students will meet with their Prospectus Committee to discuss their Prospectus, proposed research, and next steps. See the M.S. Requirements and Ph.D. Requirements sections for more information. They will submit their Prospectus and signed Prospectus Guidelines and Meeting form to the Graduate Program Coordinator.
         • Qualifying Exam: Second-year Ph.D. students will take their Qualifying Exam. See the Ph.D. Requirements section for more information.
         • Annual Advisory Committee Meeting: All students (except those completing their Prospectus or Qualifying Exam) will meet with their Advisory Committee to discuss their research. They will submit the Annual Advisory Committee Meeting form to the Graduate Program Coordinator.
         • Student Financial Support Meeting: All students will meet with their faculty advisor to discuss financial support for the following academic year. They will submit a TA Request Form to the Graduate Program Coordinator.
         • Student Progress Assessment (SPA): All students will meet with their faculty advisor and complete their Student Progress Assessment together between April 1st and June 30th each year.

  • M.S. Requirements

  • Use the M.S. Advising Form to track your degree requirements.

    • Prospectus. By the 6th week of the third quarter in residence, Master’s students must submit a prospectus for their thesis research. This 10 page double-spaced document includes an abstract, statement of research problem, background, methods, discussion, and references. For more information, see the Earth and Planetary Sciences Ph.D. and M.S. Degree Requirements and Prospectus Guidelines and Meeting Form.
      • Prospectus Meeting. After completing the prospectus, and before the end of the first year in the program, students will meet with their Prospectus Committee to discuss the prospectus, the proposed research, its suitability for a M.S. thesis, and the ability of the student to complete the proposed research. This meeting can have the following outcomes: the student will proceed with their thesis research, take additional courses, modify the proposed research, and/or be recommended for disqualification from the graduate program. After this meeting, students must submit their Prospectus and signed Prospectus Guidelines and Meeting Form to the Graduate Program Coordinator.
    • Advancement to Candidacy. Master’s students must file a Candidacy for the Master’s Degree – Thesis Plan I form after completing one-half of their course requirements and at least one quarter before completing all degree requirements, no later than the 5th quarter in residence.

      Thesis. The thesis may be written in one of two formats: (1) thesis format, with chapters, and appendices to archive data; or (2) manuscript format, intended for submission for publication in a professional journal in the students’ field of research. See the Earth and Planetary Sciences Ph.D. and M.S. Degree Requirements for more details.

      • 1. Submit a complete draft to the Thesis Committee, who certifies that the thesis is ready for presentation. Note that university policy gives one month for faculty to complete and return comments on a thesis draft, and there may be several rounds of edits.
        2. Schedule your public seminar. It should be during the academic year if possible, and it is recommended to use a time when most of the department can attend, such as the Friday Lunch Talks. The graduate program coordinator can help you find a time and place in the department, and it is the student’s responsibility to add the seminar to the department event calendar. The Faculty Advisor usually announces the seminar to the department by email.
        3. Public Seminar.  Students must present a public departmental seminar on the results of their work before a final draft can be accepted.
        4. Collect signatures from your thesis committee on your Thesis Title Page after you have given your Public Seminar.
        5. File the thesis with Graduate Studies. For deadlines, formatting, and filing instructions, see the Graduate Studies filing deadlines and process.
        6. Submit your Department of EPS Exit Checklist to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

  • Ph.D. Requirements

  • Use the Ph.D. Advising Form to track your degree requirements.

    Teaching Assistantship. Each Ph.D. student must serve as a Teaching Assistant (TA) once before advancing to candidacy. This requirement may be waived with permission from the Graduate Chair for students on fellowship who are not eligible to TA.

    Prospectus. By the 6th week of the third quarter in residence, Ph.D. students must submit a prospectus for their dissertation research. This 10 page, double-spaced document includes an abstract, statement of research problem, background, methods, discussion, and references. For more information, see the Earth and Planetary Sciences Ph.D. and M.S. Degree Requirements and Prospectus Guidelines and Meeting Form.

    • • Prospectus Meeting. After completing the prospectus, and before the end of the first year in the program, students will meet with their Prospectus Committee to discuss the prospectus, the proposed research, its suitability for a dissertation, and the ability of the student to complete the proposed research. This meeting can have the following outcomes: the student will expand their prospectus into dissertation proposal, modify and resubmit the prospectus, complete a Master’s degree before continuing in the Ph.D. program, or be recommended for disqualification from the graduate program. After this meeting, students must submit their Prospectus and signed Prospectus Guidelines and Meeting Form to the Graduate Program Coordinator.
       

    Proposal. By the start of the 6th quarter in residence, Ph.D. students must submit a proposal for their dissertation research. Students with an M.S. in the UC Davis EPS Graduate Program must submit their proposal by the 4th quarter in residence. The proposal is a formal NSF-style proposal, 15 single-spaced pages long, including a summary, statement of research problem, methods, research plan and timetable, discussion, and references. The proposal is due to the student’s advisory committee members 4-8 weeks before the Qualifying Exam. See the Proposal Guidelines [PDF coming soon] for more information.

    Qualifying Exam. By the end of the 6th quarter in residence, Ph.D. students must take their Qualifying Exam. Students with an M.S. in the UC Davis EPS Graduate Program must take their Qualifying Exam by the 4th quarter in residence. The QE is an oral exam in front of the student’s Qualifying Exam Committee, about 2-3 hours total, consisting of a short presentation (less than 15 minutes) of the proposed research by the student followed by a question-and-answer period. The Oral Qualifying Examination is intended to demonstrate the student's critical thinking ability, powers of imagination and synthesis, and broad knowledge of the field of study. Review the Qualifying Exam Guidelines [PDF coming soon] for more information.

    • • Six weeks before the qualifying exam, submit the Qualifying Exam Application. This will include your Qualifying Exam Committee membership.
      • •• The Graduate Advisor will only sign the Qualifying Examination Application once they have confirmed with the student’s QE Chair that the Proposal is complete.
    • • Take the Qualifying Exam. The Qualifying Examination can have one of three outcomes: Pass; No pass with the option to retake all or part of the examination within a specified time period, or to satisfy specific requirements; Fail. The Chair of the Exam will submit the Report on Qualifying Examination for Admission to Candidacy.
      • •• The exam may be attempted only twice; on the second attempt only an outcome of Pass or Fail is allowed. Should a student receive a Fail on the first or second attempt, that student will be recommended to the Dean of Graduate Studies for disqualification from the program.


    Advancement to Candidacy. After completing all coursework, the TA requirement, the prospectus document and meeting, the proposal, and passing the Qualifying Exam, Ph.D. students must file a Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Plan C form.

    Dissertation. The completion of the Ph.D. includes two main components: 1) a written dissertation and 2) a defense/final examination consisting of a public departmental seminar followed by a closed examination restricted to members of the Dissertation Committee. See the Earth and Planetary Sciences Ph.D. and M.S. Degree Requirements for more details.

    • 1. Submit a complete draft to the Dissertation Committee, who certifies that the dissertation is ready for presentation. Note that university policy gives one month for faculty to complete and return comments on a thesis draft, and there may be several rounds of edits. A minimum of two weeks before the dissertation defense/final examination and public departmental seminar, a complete and defendable dissertation must be submitted to the Dissertation Committee for review.
      2. Schedule your public seminar. It should be during the academic year if possible, and it is recommended to use a time when most of the department can attend, such as the Friday Lunch Talks. The graduate program coordinator can help you find a time and place in the department, and it is the student’s responsibility to add the seminar to the  department event calendar. The Faculty Advisor usually announces the seminar to the department by email.
      3. Public Seminar. Students must present a public departmental seminar on the results of their work before a final draft can be accepted.
      4. Defense. The dissertation defense follows the public departmental seminar and is a 1-2 hour long oral examination, restricted to members of the Dissertation Committee, on any aspects of the research. See the Earth and Planetary Sciences Ph.D. and M.S. Degree Requirements for an explanation of the possible outcomes of the dissertation defense. The Dissertation Committee Chair will complete a Report of Final Examination for Ph.D., Plan C form.
      5. Collect signatures from your dissertation committee on your Dissertation Title Page after you have given your Public Seminar and Defense.
      6. File the thesis with Graduate Studies. For deadlines, formatting, and filing instructions, see the Graduate Studies filing deadlines and process.
    • 7. Submit your Department of EPS Exit Checklist to the Graduate Program Coordinator.
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  • Advice
  • The Mentoring Guidelines followed in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program are the same as those presented in the Grad Council Mentoring Guidelines document.

    Failure to meet specified program deadlines, as determined at the Continuing Student Meetings with the Graduate Advisors in January, will result in the student being placed on departmental probation for funding, potentially jeopardizing future financial support. The student will receive a warning that is also forwarded to the advisor and to the Office of Graduate Studies. If not addressed, this could lead to a designation of unsatisfactory progress, resulting in a letter from the Dean of Graduate Studies placed in the student’s file.

    The responsibility for completing these tasks lies with the graduate student, in consultation with his/her Faculty Advisor. It is the responsibility of the Graduate Advisors to assess whether specified program deadlines have been met.

    Students are advised to talk to their Faculty Advisor regularly. It is the responsibility of the Faculty Advisor to advise; it is the student’s responsibility to seek advice when needed. Clear communication is essential to success in graduate school.

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences Grad Student Handbook

  • The Earth and Planetary Sciences Grad Student Handbook is available online.
    Archived editions [ 2020 ] [ 2019 ] [ 2018 ] [ 2017 ] [ 2016 ] [ 2015 ]