Geosciences:  Undergraduate Oceanography Program


College of Science and Engineering

Dean: Sheldon Axler


Department of Geosciences

509 Thornton Hall

(415) 338-2061

Fax: (415) 338-7705

Chair: Oswaldo Garcia


Graduate Coordinators: Grove (Geology) and Monteverdi (Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences)

Credential Adviser: Caskey




Professors—Dempsey, Garcia, Garfield, Grove, Monteverdi, Mustart, Pestrong, White


Associate Professors—Caskey


Assistant Professors—Leech, Sklar


Adjunct Faculty—Abrams, Blier, Campbell, Felton, Knox, Null, Roopnarine, Roush, Tang




B.A. in Earth Sciences

B.S. in Geology

B.S. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences: Concentration in Meteorology

B.S. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences: Concentration in Oceanography

Minor in Earth Sciences

M.S. in Applied Geosciences





The Department of Geosciences is a University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Affiliate.


Program Scope


The Department of Geosciences offers three undergraduate degree programs and a minor program spanning the geosciences (that is, earth sciences), including geology, atmospheric sciences (including meteorology), and oceanography. It also offers a graduate program leading to a Master of Science in Applied Geosciences.


The B.S. in Geology provides rigorous professional education and training in geology with a strong emphasis on investigations in the field (that is, outdoors). It also provides excellent preparation for graduate work in geology. The B.S. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences includes a Concentration in Meteorology that provides modern professional education and training in meteorology, including weather forecasting, and preparation for graduate work in atmospheric sciences. A Concentration in Oceanography provides analogous preparation in oceanography. The B.A. in Earth Sciences provides a broad, flexible, integrated background in the earth sciences. The Minor in Earth Sciences does the same on a smaller scale and can complement a variety of other majors. The M.S. in Applied Geosciences provides education and training in research in the geosciences in close collaboration with a faculty advisor, with emphasis on applied problems in the San Francisco Bay region.


Career Outlook


Geoscience investigations lead to new discoveries of useful earth materials, solutions to environmental problems, and insights into earth processes that affect people’s lives. Geoscientists contribute basic information to society for analyzing and solving problems and establishing policy for managing resources, protecting the environment, and assessing natural hazards. Dwindling energy, mineral, and water resources, and increasing environmental concern about issues such as global warming and its impacts, present challenges that create a demand for geoscientific expertise.


Graduates in geology, meteorology, and oceanography may pursue a wide range of careers in the earth sciences and related fields. Geologists currently find the greatest opportunities in the broad areas of environmental/engineering geology, including such specializations as surface and groundwater hydrogeology, geotechnical studies aimed at locating and remediating toxic sites, earthquake and landslide hazard assessment, and site evaluation for urban planning or construction. There also continue to be positions available in petroleum geology and minerals exploration. A shortage of certified high school and middle school science teachers has placed qualified teachers in high demand. Meteorologists will find opportunities in short- and long-range weather forecasting, air pollution assessment, wind energy assessment, global climate change research, and broadcast meteorology. For most types of jobs, the strongest candidates will have a master's degree, several years of field experience, and an interdisciplinary background with strong chemistry, physics, mathematics, and computer skills. Geologists and meteorologists are employed by a large number of government agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey, National Weather Service, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California Division of Mines and Geology, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Forest Service. Many geologists and some meteorologists in the San Francisco Bay Area work for environmental consulting firms, and some meteorologists become broadcast meteorologists working for local television and radio stations. In addition to preparing students for advanced work as professional geologists, meteorologists, and oceanographers, the M.S. in Applied Geosciences qualifies students to teach at community colleges and prepares others to continue their graduate education in doctoral programs leading to careers in university teaching and research.




The B.S. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences is described and their requirements summarized below.


Course descriptions are available online.


Advising. The Department of Geosciences requires that declared majors consult with an advisor every semester, and prospective majors should consult with an advisor as early as possible, particularly about selecting courses in the General Education program that best fit the major program. Students will also be advised about completing basic science requirements before taking upper division courses in geosciences, and about the order in which required courses should best be taken. Students interested in preparing to teach high school or middle school earth sciences and integrated science should consult the credential adviser in the Department of Geosciences because specific courses beyond the Department’s degree programs are required.




The Bachelor of Science in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences includes a Concentration in Meteorology and a Concentration in Oceanography, which share a common, interdisciplinary core built on principles of mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science, as well as fundamental concepts in meteorology and oceanography. The Meteorology Concentration adheres to guidelines for B.S. programs in Meteorology issued by the American Meteorological Society. It prepares students for graduate education in meteorology and for a variety of careers, including weather forecasting for the National Weather Service or private industry, broadcast meteorology, and environmental analysis and consulting across a broad range of applications such as air quality, wind power, forensic meteorology, natural hazards, and climate change. Similarly, the Oceanography Concentration prepares students for graduate education in oceanography and for a variety of careers in applied oceanography.


For students interested in becoming a broadcast meteorologist, the B.S. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Concentration in Meteorology satisfies one requirement of the American Meteorological Society’s Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM) program. (See for more information about the CBM program.)


The Concentration in Meteorology covers core topics including the thermodynamics of air, cloud physics, atmospheric radiation, dynamic meteorology, the analysis and forecasting of weather, climate change, and weather instruments, as well as elective topics such as forecasting weather for the public, severe storms, numerical weather prediction, air-sea interactions such as the El NiĖo phenomenon, and advanced analysis and forecasting of weather, particularly on the West Coast. The Concentration in Oceanography covers core topics including physical oceanography, air-sea interactions, marine geology, and chemical oceanography, as well as elective topics in biological oceanography, meteorology, coastal processes, etc.


We encourage students to seek internship opportunities, for which credit is granted through METR 694 (“Cooperative Education in Meteorology”). We also recommend that students interested in preparing for graduate school complete 1-3 units of METR/OCN 697 (“Senior Project”) or METR/OCN 699 (“Special Study”) during the senior year, under the direction of a faculty advisor. (METR 694, METR/OCN 697 and METR/OCN 699 do not count toward degree requirements.)


Course and Unit Requirements for B.S. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences: Concentration in Oceanography


Science and Mathematics Foundation       



CHEM 115

General Chemistry I: Essential Concepts of Chemistry


Computer Science


Use of Computers in Meteorology and Oceanography          



MATH 226

Calculus I


MATH 227

Calculus II


MATH 228

Calculus III


MATH 245

Elementary Differential Equations and Linear Algebra          


MATH 324

Probability and Statistics with Computing



PHYS 220/222             

General Physics with Calculus I/Laboratory (3/1)


PHYS 230/232


PHYS 240/242

General Physics with Calculus II/ Laboratory (3/1)


General Physics with Calculus III/ Laboratory (3/1)              


Total science and mathematics foundation requirements


Meteorology and Oceanography Core


Physical Processes in the Atmosphere and Ocean I   



Physical Processes in the Atmosphere and Ocean I



Meteorological and Oceanographic Observing Techniques and Systems


   OCN 405

Planetary Climate Change


METR/OCN 406           

Computer Programming with Applications in Meteorology and Oceanography



Remote Sensing of the Atmosphere and Ocean


Total oceanography core requirements




Oceanography Required Courses



Air-Sea Interactions


OCN 465

Physical Oceanography


Select one of the following two options:

     Option 1 (3 units):

CHEM 677

Chemical Oceanography





     Option 2 (7 units total):

GEOL 110


GEOL 467

Physical Geology (4 units)


Marine Geology (3 units)

Total oceanography requirements

9 or 13

Oceanography Electives (select from the course(s) not selected from the options above and/or from the list below, upon advisement, so that elective and required oceanography courses total at least 18 units)


BIOL 230

Introductory Biology I (5)


BIOL 240

Introductory Biology II (5)

BIOL 582

Biological Oceanography (4)

BIOL 535

Remote Sensing of Wetlands and Coastal Zones (4)

ENVS 450

Environmental Law and Policy (3)

GEOL 452

Coastal Processes (3)

GEOL 402

Coastal Geology in the Field (1)

METR 401

Atmospheric Thermodynamics and Cloud Physics (4)

METR 402

Atmospheric Dynamics I (4)

METR 506

Numerical Weather Prediction (2)

PHYS 495

Introduction to Apparatus Fabrication (1)

Total oceanography electives

9 or 5

Total for Oceanography Concentration


Total for Science and Mathematics Foundation
(from above)


Total for Oceanography Core
(from above)


Total for major