Planning your GEL Major

Your path to a GEL Major

Read below for sample academic plans and the list of elective courses for the Geology major. Please visit academic advising to plan your specific path to a Geology degree.

4-year Students | GEL Sample Academic Plans

The information here is provided for your convenience; classes are subject to change. Please speak with a geology major advisor for the latest information on a geology major study plan. Be sure to check MyDegree.ucdavis.edu for your full list of degree requirements, including General Education and your College English Composition Requirement (UWP 104E is recommended).

Classes in italics must stay in the quarter they’re listed, although not always in the year listed.

The following classes are recommended for those who intend to pursue graduate degrees but are not necessarily required for the Bachelor of Science degree in Geology: MAT 21D, MAT 22A, MAT 22B, PHY 9D.

Year 1

  • Fall Quarter Total: 12-15 units
  • Winter Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Math 16B or 17B or 21B: Calculus (3-4)
    • Chemistry 2B: General Chemistry (5)
    • General Education (3+)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Math 16C or 17C: Calculus (3-4)
    • Geology 50: Physical Geology (3)
    • Geology 50L: Physical Geology Lab (2)
    • Lower Division College English (4)

Year 2

  • Fall Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Math 22A: Linear Algebra (3) - unless doing 17 series
    • MAT 22AL – if taking 22A (1)
    • Geology 55: Geochemistry (3)
    • General Education (3+)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Physics 7A or 9A: Physics (4-5)
    • Geology 53: Geobiology (3)
    • General Education (3+)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Physics 7B or 9B: Physics (4-5)
    • STA 13 or 32 or 100: Statistics (4)
    • General Education (3+)

There are 2 Options for Years 3 and 4:
Option 1: Structure Coursework first | Option 2: Petrology Coursework first


Year 3 and 4 Option 1: Structure Coursework first

Junior - Structure Coursework
  • Fall Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 60: Earth Materials (4)
    • Geology 56: Geophysics (4)
    • Geology 109: Sediments and Strata (3)
    • Geology 109L: Sediments and Strata Lab (2)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 101: Structural Geology (3)
    • Geology 101L: Structural Geology Lab (2)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • General Education (3+)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 103: Field Geology (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • UWP 101 or 102 or 104 or UDCE
    • General Education (3+)
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110A: Summer Field Geology (4)*
    • Units for financial aid (2+)
SeniorPetrology Coursework
  • Fall Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 107: Paleobiology (3)
    • Geology 107L: Paleobiology (2)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • General Education (3+)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 105: Igneous Rocks (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division units (4)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 108: Paleoclimates (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • General Education (3+)
    • Upper Division units (0-8)
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110B: Summer Field Geology (4)*
    • Units for financial aid (2+)

*Can be taken over multiple summers or during same summer

Year 3 and 4 Option 2: Petrology Coursework first

Junior - Petrology Coursework
  • Fall Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 60: Earth Materials (4)
    • Geology 56: Geophysics (4)
    • Geology 109: Sediments and Strata (3)
    • Geology 109L: Sediments and Strata Lab (2)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 105: Igneous Rocks (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • General Education (3+)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 108: Paleoclimates (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • UWP 101 or 102 or 104 or UDCE
    • General Education (3+)
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110B: Summer Field Geology (4)*
    • Units for financial aid (2+)
Senior - Structure Coursework
  • Fall Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 107: Paleobiology (3)
    • Geology 107L: Paleobiology Lab (2)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • General Education (3+)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 101: Structural Geology (3)
    • Geology 101L: Structural Geology Lab (2)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division units (4)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 103: Field Geology (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • General Education (3+)
    • Upper Division units (0-8)
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110A: Summer Field Geology (4)*
    • Units for financial aid (2+)

*Can be taken over multiple summers or during same summer

Geology B.S. Sample Academic Plan (pdf) revised 5/2022
Geology A.B. Sample Academic Plan (pdf) revised 5/2022


Updated May 2022

2-year Transfer Students | GEL Sample Academic Plans

The following are sample study plans for 2-year Transfer Students. They assume you've completed the preparatory coursework. The following information is provided for your convenience, but is not meant to replace a consultation with one of our undergraduate advisors. Classes are subject to change. Be sure to check MyDegree.ucdavis.edu for your full list of degree requirements, including General Education and your College English Composition Requirement (UWP 104E is recommended).

Classes in italics must stay in the quarter they’re listed, although not always in the year listed.

The following classes are recommended for those who intend to pursue graduate degrees but are not necessarily required for the Bachelor of Science degree in Geology: MAT 21D, MAT 22B, PHY 9D.


There are 2 Options for Transfer Students
Option 1: Structure Coursework first | Option 2: Petrology Coursework first


GEL Transfer Option 1: Structure Coursework first

Transfer Option 1 focuses on the structure coursework first, like Structural Geology, Spring Field Geology, and Sediments and Strata. It allows students to take GEL 110A: Summer Field: Structure and Neotectonics their first summer. This option may be preferable to students who enjoy these topics, and want to participate in further coursework, research, or internships in structural geology their senior year.

Junior Academic Year | Structure coursework
  • Fall Quarter Total: 12-15 units
    • Geology 60: Earth Materials (4)
    • Geology 109: Sediments and Strata (3)
    • Geology 109L: Sediments and Strata Lab (2)
    • Geology 56: Geophysics (4)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 53: Geobiology (3)
    • Geology 101: Structural Geology (3)
    • Geology 101L: Structural Geology Lab (2)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 103: Spring Field Geology (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • UWP 101 or 102 or 104 or UDCE
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110A: Summer Field Geology (4)*
    • Units for financial aid (2+)
Senior Academic Year | Petrology coursework
  • Fall Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 55: Geochemistry (3)
    • Geology 107: Paleobiology (3)
    • Geology 107L: Paleobiology Lab (2)
    • Upper Division units (4)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 105: Igneous Rocks (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division units (4)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 108: Paleoclimates (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division units (0-4)
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110B: Summer Field Geology (4)*
    • Units for financial aid (2+)

*Can be taken over multiple summers or during same summer


GEL Transfer Option 2: Petrology Coursework first

Transfer Option 2  focuses on the petrology coursework first, like Igneous Petrology. That class, along with Mineraology and Sediments and Strata allows students to take GEL 110B: Summer Field: Volcanology their first summer. This option may be preferable to students who enjoy hard rock petrology, and want to participate in further coursework, research, or internships in this area their senior year.

Junior Academic Year | Petrology coursework 
  • Fall Quarter Total: 12-15 units
    • Geology 60: Earth Materials (4)
    • Geology 109: Sediments and Strata (3)
    • Geology 109L: Sediments and Strata Lab (2)
    • Geology 55: Geochemistry (3)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 53: Geobiology (3)
    • Geology 105: Igneous Rocks (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 108: Paleoclimates (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • UWP 101 or 102 or 104 or UDCE
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110B: Summer Field Geology (4)*
    • Units for financial aid (2+)
Senior Academic Year | Structure coursework
  • Fall Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 56: Geophysics (4)
    • Geology 107: Paleobiology (3)
    • Geology 107L: Paleobiology Lab (2)
    • Upper Division units (4)
  • Winter Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 101: Structural Geology (3)
    • Geology 101L: Structural Geology Lab (2)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division units (4)
  • Spring Quarter Total: 12+ units
    • Geology 103: Field Geology (4)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division Geology Elective (3)
    • Upper Division units (0-4)
  • Summer Total: 0-8 units
    • Geology 110A: Summer Field Geology (4)*
    • Units for financial aid (2+)

*Can be taken over multiple summers or during same summer

Geology B.S. Sample Academic Plan for Transfers (pdf) revised 5/2022
Geology A.B. Sample Academic Plan for Transfers  (pdf) revised 5/2022


Updated May 2022

Required Geology major courses

  • GEL 101/101L - taught every Winter
  • GEL 103 - taught every Spring
  • GEL 105 - taught every Winter
  • GEL 107 - taught every Fall, Spring, Summer Session 1, and Summer Session 2 in 2022-2023
  • GEL 107L - taught every Fall and Spring in 2022-2023
  • GEL 108 - taught every Spring
  • GEL 109/109L - taught every Fall
  • GEL 110A - taught every Summer Special Session (during Summer Session 1 dates), approximately mid-June to early July
  • GEL 110B - taught every Summer Special Session (during Summer Session 1 dates), approximately mid-July to the end of July

Upper Division Electives

[ UC Davis General Catalog ] [ General Catalog Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences ]

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. Last updated 12/2020

  • 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.
GEL Upper Division Electives list:
  • Academic Year 2021-2022
  • Academic Year 2021-2022 (pdf; updated 12/14/2021)
    Fall 2021
    • GEL 131 – Risks and Natural Hazards (3) Rundle
    • GEL 140 – Introduction to Process Geomorphology (4) Pinter
    • 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) Vermeij
    Winter 2022
    • GEL 133 – Environmental Geochemistry (3) Mukhopadhyay
    • GEL 141 – Evolutionary History of Vertebrates (3) Motani
    • GEL 150B – Geological Oceanography (3) McKinley
    • 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
    • GEL 190 – Seminar (1) Stewart
    Spring 2022
    • GEL 116N – Oceanography (3) McKinley
    • GEL 120 – Big Bang to Today (3) Osleger
    • GEL 136 – Ecogeomorphology of Rivers & Streams (5) Pinter
    • GEL 144 – Historical Ecology (3) Vermeij
    • GEL 150A – Physical & Chemical Oceanography (4) Gaylord
    • 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) Osleger
    Summer 2022
    • GEL 150C – Biological Oceanography (4) Hill
  • Academic Year 2022-2023
  • Academic Year 2022-2024 (pdf; updated 07/18/2022)
    Summer 2022
    • GEL 150C - Biological Oceanography (4) Hill
    Fall 2022
    • GEL 131 - Risks and Natural Hazards (3) Rundle
    • GEL 163 - Planetary Geology and Geophysics (3) Stewart
    • 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 2023
    • GEL 141 - Evolutionary History of Vertebrates (3) Motani
    • GEL 148 - Stable Isotopes and Tracers (3) Atekwana
    • GEL 150B - Geological Oceanography (3) Griffin
    • GEL 162 - Geophysics of the Solid Earth (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
    • GEL 190 - Seminar (1) TBD
    Spring 2023
    • GEL 116N - Oceanography (3) Griffin
    • GEL 120 - Big Bang to Today (3) Osleger
    • GEL 134 - Environmental Geology and Land Use Planning (3) Oskin
    • GEL 146 - Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry (3) Yin
    • 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
    • GEL 190 - Seminar (1) TBD
  • Academic Year 2023-2024 (tentative)
  • Academic Year 2022-2024 (pdf; updated 07/18/2022)
    Summer 2023
    • GEL 150C - Biological Oceanography (4) Hill
    Fall 2023
    • GEL 110C - TBD (4) Rudolph
    • GEL 131 - Risks and Natural Hazards (3) Rundle
    • 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) Hill
    • 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
    • GEL 190 - Seminar (1) TBD
    Spring 2024
    • GEL 120 - Big Bang to Today (3) Osleger
    • GEL 136 - Ecogeomorphology (5) Pinter
    • GEL 144 - Historical Ecology (3) TBD
    • GEL 150A - Physical and Chemical Oceanography (4) Gaylord
    • 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
Geophysics minor course scheduling:
  • GEL 131 - taught every Fall
  • GEL 160 -  taught Winter of even years
  • GEL 161 - taught Spring of odd years
  • GEL 162 - taught Winter of odd years
  • GEL 163 - taught Fall of even years
Other courses to consider:
  • ENG 006—Engineering Problem Solving (4 units) – appropriate for non-engineering majors. A good introduction to programming and MATLAB.
  • ECI 016—Spatial Data Analysis (2 units) – teaches CAD and GIS. No prerequisites. Offered in Spring.
General Education classes to consider:
  • 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.
  • SAS 018—GIS & Society (3 units) GE credit: QL, SE, SL, SS, VL.
  • 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.
  • STS 180—Topics in Science & Technology Studies (4 units) GE credit: SS.