Graduate Studies

Geosciences (MS)

Option in Hydrology/Hydrogeology

Application Deadlines

  • Fall: March-1 (February-1 for international applicants)
  • Spring: November-1 (October-1 for international applicants)

Two letters of recommendation, curriculum vitae, and statement of purpose. Contact & identify a faculty mentor.

Program Coordinator
Hannah Aird

geosciences student

Is the MS in geological sciences for you?

Do any of the following describe you?

  • Fascinated with the natural world and want to know how it formed.
  • Interested in volcanoes and natural hazards.
  • Love hiking and being outside.
  • Grew up in a region famous for its mining or geological history and curious to know more.
  • Interested in exploring a pathway to a PhD.

student working in the creek

Do these jobs sound interesting to you?

Our alumni are:

  • Hydrogeologists
  • Mining geologists
  • Geological and petroleum geologists
  • Environmental geologists

Other possibilities are:

  • Meteorologist
  • Environmental geochemist
  • College instructor
  • Paleontologist

student working with fossils

Is this the kind of salary you are seeking?

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows the following outlook for Geoscientists(opens in new window):

Median Pay
$83,680 per year

Job Outlook
5% (As fast as average)

Most geoscientists split their time between working indoors in offices and laboratories, and working outdoors. Doing research and investigations outdoors is commonly called fieldwork and can require irregular working hours and extensive travel to remote locations.

student studying a fossil in the lab

What if my bachelor’s isn’t in geological sciences?

You can still pursue this degree if your undergraduate degree was in a different field. It may occasionally require some background courses/prerequisites to bring you up to speed. Talk to the graduate coordinator for details.

Science Building

How long will it take?

  • The MS in geological sciences is a 30-unit program that can be completed in two years.
  • Students sometimes take three to four years, but this is by choice; they’re diving deep into research projects or working in the field.

What is it like to be a geological sciences master’s student?

students at Lassen National Park

Regional Fieldwork and Internships

  • Work closely with a faculty advisor and mentor.
  • Complete a linear sequence of courses which build a tight-knit cohort.
  • Do lots of local or regional fieldwork and take advantage of many internship opportunities.
  • Travel across the country and around the world to conduct research.

student presenting at conference

Present Your Research at Conferences

  • Present research at national and international conferences.
  • Write top quality, outstanding theses.
  • Mentor undergraduate students.
  • Teach lab sections on campus and lead undergraduate field trips.
  • Become integrated into the department community.

students working in the Electron Microscopy Lab

Work on State-of-the-Art Equipment

  • Work with state-of-the-art equipment on a wide range of applied geological and environmental projects in active research labs like the aqueous geochem lab, atmospheric science lab, microscopy lab, tectonics and sedimentation lab, SEM lab, and volocanology lab.
  • Labwork opportunities completed at external labs mean interaction with scientists from outside Chico, too.

Here's What Our Students are Doing

Alexis Lopez

Studying The Distribution Of Copper Minerals

Geoscience graduate student Alexis Lopez is studying the distribution of copper minerals in a local copper deposit through core examination, geochemistry and petrography. She received an Office of Graduate Studies Research and Conference Award funding her travel to present her research at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America.


Comparing Soil Amendments

Hydrology/hydrogeology graduate student Stacey Alexander is comparing soil amendments for their potential to improve urban runoff treatment in biofiltration systems, using long-term greenhouse experiments located at the University Farm.

Robert Gruenberg

Studied the Role of Soil Physical Properties on Water Treatment

Hydrology/hydrogeology graduate student Robert Gruenberg studied the role of soil physical properties (texture, porosity, infiltration capacity) on water treatment at BWELL. He installed an array of lysimeters in the bioswale and collected soil pore waters throughout the rainy season to characterize nutrient and metal composition of infiltrated storm runoff.