Planning your GEL Major

Your path to a GEL Major

The Geology major at UC Davis begins with preparatory science coursework in math, chemistry, physics, statistics, and of course geology. The required major courses then span foundational geology topics such as mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, earth history, and field work. Students get to take electives to fill out the rest of their major requirements, in areas such as geophysics, planetary science, geochemistry, oceanography, natural hazards, environmental science, and more. Bachelor's of Science students finish their degree with capstone Summer Field courses. 

4-year Students | GEL Sample Academic Plans

The following are sample academic plans for first-year Geology B.S. majors. A.B. plans will have fewer classes. This information is provided for your convenience, but should be adjusted to each student's specific needs. These plans are not meant to replace a consultation with a major advisor, who can help you create a personalized academic plan. Classes are subject to change. 

The full structure series (101/L-103-110A) is offered in the 2023-2024 year, or the 2025-2026 year, etc. Take these classes junior year if you’ve completed the physics prerequisites by then. The full petrology series (60-105-109/L-110B) is offered in the 2024-2025 year, or 2026-2027, etc. Take these classes junior year if you’ve completed the chemistry prerequisites by then. Split up taking the structure and petrology series to keep a balanced schedule.

 

Fall - Year 1WinterSpringSummer
Entry-Level Writing (if needed) (0-6)MAT 017B or 019B or 021B (3-4)MAT 017C or 019C or 021C (3-4) 
Preparatory Math or MAT 017A or 019A or 021A (0-4)CHE 002B (5)CHE 002C (instead of GEL 55) (5) 
Preparatory Chemistry or CHE 002A (3-5)General Education (3+)GEL 050 (3) 
First-Year Seminar (optional) (1-2)Total: 12+ unitsGEL 050L (2) 
Total: 12-15 units Total: 12+ units 
    
Fall - Year 2WinterSpringSummer
MAT 022A – unless doing 017 or 021 series (0-3)PHY 007A or 009A (4-5)PHY 007B or 009B (4-5) 
MAT 22AL – if taking 22A (0-1)GEL 053 or 003 (3)STA 013 or 032 or 100 (4) 
Lower Division College English (4)General Education (3+)General Education (3+) 
General Education (3+)Total: 12+ unitsTotal: 12+ units 
Total: 12+ units   
    
Fall - Year 3WinterSpringSummer
PHY 007C or 009C (instead of GEL 056) (4-5)GEL 105 (4)GEL 108 (3)GEL 110B (4)
GEL 060 (4)Upper Div GEL Elective (3)GEL 109 (3)Units for financial aid (2+)
UWP 101/102/104/UDCE (0-4)Upper Div GEL Elective (3)GEL 109L (2)Total: 4+ units
General Education (3+)General Education (3+)General Education (3+) 
Total: 12+ unitsTotal: 12+ unitsTotal: 12+ units 
    
Fall - Year 4WinterSpringSummer
GEL 107 (3)GEL 101 (3)GEL 103 (4)GEL 110A (4)
GEL 107L (2)GEL 101L (2)Upper Div GEL Elective (3)Units for financial aid (2+)
Upper Div GEL Elective (3)Upper Div GEL Elective (3)General Education (3+)Total: 4+ units
Upper Div GEL Elective (3)Upper Division units (4)Upper Division units (0-8) 
Total: 12+ unitsTotal: 12+ unitsTotal: 12+ units 

Total graduation units: 180 (64 upper division)

Updated April 2024

Geology B.S. Sample Academic Plan (pdf) revised 12/2023
Geology A.B. Sample Academic Plan (pdf) revised 12/2023

2-year Transfer Students | GEL Sample Academic Plans

The following are sample academic plans for 2-year transfer Geology B.S. majors. A.B. plans will have fewer classes. They assume you've completed the preparatory coursework. This information is provided for your convenience, but should be adjusted to each student's specific needs. These plans are not meant to replace a consultation with a major advisor, who can help you create a personalized academic plan. Classes are subject to change. 

The full structure series (101/L-103-110A) is offered in the 2023-2024 year, or the 2025-2026 year, etc. Take these classes junior year if you’ve completed the physics prerequisites by then. The full petrology series (60-105-109/L-110B) is offered in the 2024-2025 year, or 2026-2027, etc. Take these classes junior year if you’ve completed the chemistry prerequisites by then. Split up taking the structure and petrology series to keep a balanced schedule.

 

Fall - Year 1WinterSpringSummer
GEL 060 (4)GEL 105 (4)GEL 108 (3)GEL 110B (4)
Upper Div GEL Elective (3)Upper Div GEL Elective (3)GEL 109 (3)Units for financial aid (2+)
UWP 101/102/104/UDCE (0-4)Upper Div GEL Elective (3)GEL 109L (2)Total: 4+ units
Total: 12-15 unitsTotal: 12+ unitsTotal: 12+ units 
    
Fall - Year 2WinterSpringSummer
GEL 107 (3)GEL 101 (3)GEL 103 (4)GEL 110A (4)
GEL 107L (2)GEL 101L (2)Upper Div GEL Elective (3)Units for financial aid (2+)
Upper Division units (4)Upper Div GEL Elective (3)Upper Div GEL Elective (3)Total: 4+ units
Total: 12+ unitsUpper Division units (4)Upper Division units (0-4) 
 Total: 12+ unitsTotal: 12+ units 

Total graduation units: 180 (64 upper division)

Updated April 2024

Geology B.S. Sample Academic Plan for Transfers (pdf) revised 12/2023
Geology A.B. Sample Academic Plan for Transfers  (pdf) revised 12/2023

Required major courses

  • GEL 50/50L - taught Fall, Winter, Spring
  • GEL 53 - taught every Winter
  • GEL 55 - no longer taught (take CHE 2C instead)
  • GEL 56 - no longer taught (take PHY 7C or 9C instead)
  • GEL 60 - taught Fall 2024, then Fall of even years (after 2024-2025)
  • GEL 101/101L - taught every Winter
  • GEL 103 - taught Spring 2025, then Spring of even years (after 2024-2025)
    • Field trips are April 13-14, May 3-5, and May 30-June 2, 2024
  • GEL 105 - taught Winter 2025, then Winter of odd years (after 2024-2025)
  • GEL 107 - taught Fall 2023, Winter 2024, Summer Session 1 2024, Summer Session 2 2024, Fall 2024, Winter 2025
  • GEL 107L - taught Fall 2023, Winter 2024, Fall 2024, Winter 2025
  • GEL 108 - taught every Spring
  • GEL 109/109L - taught every Spring 
  • GEL 110A - taught Summer Special Session of even years, approximately mid-June to early July 
  • GEL 110B - taught Summer Special Session 2024, then SSS of odd years, approximately mid-July to the end of July 

 

Upper Division Electives

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. 

  • 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). Offered every Winter.
    • ECI 171+171L – Soil Mechanics (5 units). Offered Winter and Spring.
    • ECI 175 – Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering (4 units). Offered every Fall.
    • ESM 100 – Principles of Hydrologic Science (4 units). Offered every Fall.
    • ESM 186 – Environmental Remote Sensing (5 units). Offered every Winter.
    • ESP 152 – Coastal Oceanography (3 units). Offered Summer Session 2 at Bodega Marine Lab (application required).
    • HYD 144 – Groundwater Hydrology (4 units). Offered every Fall.
    • HYD 146 – Hydrogeology and Contaminant Transport (5 units). Rarely offered.
    • LDA 150/ABT 150 – Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (4 units). Offered every quarter.
    • 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). Offered every Fall.
    • WFC 102+102L – Ecogeomorphology (1 unit) / Lab (6 units). Offered some Spring quarters.
    • Other courses in related fields must be approved in advance by the major advisor.
Upper Division Electives list:
  • Academic Year 2023-2024 Upper Division electives
  • Academic Year 2022-2024 (pdf; updated 07/18/2022)
    Summer 2023

    • GEL 150C - Biological Oceanography (4) Hill

    Fall 2023

    • GEL 131 - Risks and Natural Hazards (3) Rundle
    • GEL 140 - Introduction to Process Geomorphology (4) Pinter
      GEL 144 - Historical Ecology (3) Grettenberger
    • 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 2024

    • GEL 116N - Oceanography (3) Griffin
    • GEL 133 - Environmental Geochemistry (3) Mukhopadhyay
    • GEL 141 - Evolutionary History of Vertebrates (3) Motani
    • GEL 146 - Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry (3) Yin
    • 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

    Spring 2024

    • GEL 120 - Big Bang to Today (3) Osleger
    • GEL 150A - Physical and Chemical Oceanography (4) Gaylord
    • GEL 150B - Geological Oceanography (3) Griffin
    • 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

    • Updated November 2023
  • Academic Year 2024-2025 Upper Division electives
  • Summer 2024

    • GEL 150C - Biological Oceanography (4) Hill

    Fall 2024

    • GEL 131 - Risks and Natural Hazards (3) Rundle
    • GEL 140 - Introduction to Process Geomorphology (4) Pinter
    • GEL 150A - Physical and Chemical Oceanography (4) Largier (taught at Bodega Marine Lab)
      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

    Winter 2025

    • GEL 116N - Oceanography (3) Griffin
    • GEL 141 - Evolutionary History of Vertebrates (3) Motani
    • 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

    Spring 2025

    • GEL 120 - Big Bang to Today (3) Osleger
    • GEL 150B - Geological Oceanography (3) Palmer
    • GEL 161 - Geophysical Field Methods (3) Billen
      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

    • Updated April 2024

Summer Field

  • Visit the classes page for details about Summer Field classes

Additional Coursework

  • Mapping courses to careers
  • Read about recommended coursework that aligns with different career paths within the geosciences at eps.ucdavis.edu/sustainability.
  • Other courses to consider
  • ABT 060—Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems for Agriculture & Environmental Science (4 units)
    ABT 182—Environmental Analysis Using GIS (4 units) 
    ECI 016—Spatial Data Analysis (2 units) Teaches CAD and GIS. No prerequisites. Offered in Spring.
    ECS 032A—Introduction to Programming (4 units) Designed for non-majors. Introduction to programming and problem solving in Python. Usually offered F, W, Sp.
    ECS 032B—Introduction to Data Structures (4 units) Designed for non-majors. Design and analysis of data structures using Python; trees, heaps, searching, sorting, and graphs. Usually offered F, W, Sp.
    ECS 032C—Implementation of Data Structures in C (4 units) Designed for non-majors. Programming in the C language. Use of basic UNIX tools. Writing good programs of increased complexity and efficiency. Implementation of data structures in C. Offered Fall.
    ECS 034—Good for students who want more programming experience. Uses C/C++ and UNIX. 
    ECS 036 series—Only open to CS majors. 
    ENG 006—Engineering Problem Solving (4 units) – appropriate for non-engineering majors. A good introduction to programming and MATLAB.
    PHY 040—Introduction to Physics Computation (3 units). Assumes no prior knowledge of programming. Introduction to programming using C++ with examples from computational physics. Introduction to modern tools used for scientific analysis, including Scientific computing with Python and either SymPy or Mathematica. Offered each Fall. 
    PHY 045Computational Physics (4 units). Algorithms and programming techniques of computational physics with applications from introductory physics (PHY 9 series). Taught in C++; algorithms; no OOP. Offered each Winter
    TAE 020—Sustainable Energy Technologies (4 units).
  • General Education courses to consider
  • GE Chart for Geology majors

    CRD 149 — Community Development Perspectives on Environmental Justice (4 units) - includes a global learning focus!
    ESP 174—Environmental Justice Policy & Practice (4 units) GE credit: SS, DD, WE
    ESP/ARE 175—Natural Resource Economics (4 units) GE credit: SS
    HIS/STS 002—Introduction to the History of Science & Technology (4 units) GE credit: AH, SS, SL, WC, WE
    HIS 108—Global Environmental History (4 units) GE credit: AH, SS
    HIS 157—Business, Biomes & Knowledge: Latin American Environmental History (4 units) GE credit: SS, WC, WE
    HIS 178—Water in the West: Environment & Politics in America's Arid Lands (4 units) GE credit: AH, ACGH, WE
    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.
    PHI 030 — Introduction to Philosophy of Science (4 units) GE credit: AH, SE, SL, WE
    PLS 021—Application of Computers in Technology (3 units). Teaches Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other useful technologies.
    POL 012B—Climate Change & Politics (4 units) GE credit: SS, WE
    POL 107 — Environmental Politics & Administration (4 units) GE credit: SS, ACGH, QL, WE
    POL 171 — The Politics of Energy (4 units)
    SAS 009 — Crisis in the Environment (3 units)
    SAS 010 — Water, Power, Society (3 units)
    SAS 018—GIS & Society (3 units) GE credit: QL, SE, SL, SS, VL
    SAS 025 — Global Climate Change: Convergence of Biological, Geophysical, & Social Sciences (4 units)
    SAS 042 — Earth, Water, Science, Song (3 units)
    SOC 160 — Sociology of the Environment (4 units)
    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.
    UWP 049 — Writing Research Papers (4 units)
    UWP 104E—Writing in the Professions: Science (4 units)
    UWP 111C—Specialized Topics in Journalism: Science Journalism (4 units)