Graduate Requirements


  • BS in engineering or a physical science or a recognized equivalent
  • Mathematics 1A, 1B, 53, 54 (or equivalent)
  • Chemistry 1A (or equivalent)
  • Physics 7A (or equivalent)
  • CE 30 Introduction to Solid Mechanics (or equivalent)
  • CE 70 Engineering Geology (or equivalent)
  • CE 175 Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering (or equivalent)

Course descriptions

See Berkeley Academic Guide for all CEE course descriptions.

Berkeley Graduate Division's Degree Policy

All UC Berkeley graduate degree programs must conform to minimum requirements established by Graduate Division. See Degrees Policy.


The Master of Science degree consists of two semesters (Fall and Spring) of course work. The course sequence is structured to provide a strong preparation for both professional practice and further advanced studies in the area of geomechanics and geotechnical engineering. The program stresses the application of fundamental principles of science and engineering for analysis and solution of complex geosystems problems. In addition, the students are exposed to the geotechnical practice through regular seminars by practicing professionals.

GeoSystems' interdisciplinary nature attracts students from many diverse disciplines, civil engineering, earth sciences, and geophysics. Students enrolled in programs, or with degrees, in non-engineering disciplines, especially earth sciences or geophysics, often need additional preparation to be able to complete the MS program in one year.

For further information, please contact the GeoSystems Admissions Officer, Professor Athanasopoulos-Zekkos (, well ahead of the application deadline for advice on additional preparation and options for satisfying any missing background requirements.

The majority of students complete the Master of Science Plan II. Plan ll is completed in one academic year (2 semesters).

Master of Science: Plan II

  • 24 units with 12 in approved graduate courses (3 of these 12 can be CE 299) and 3 of the remaining 12 can be CE 299.
  • Submit
    • a written report on at least 3 units of individual study or research
    • a satisfactory, individually written, capstone report in course CE 273 Advanced GeoSystems Testing and Design (most common)

Master of Science: Plan I*

  • Thesis required
  • 20 units with 9 in approved graduate courses (3 of these can be CE 299) and the remaining 11 units from approved upper-division and graduate courses.

* Plan I requires adviser approval at the time of admission.


Doctoral studies consist of selected courses and independent research culminating in a thesis. The programs are individually formulated through consultation with a faculty guidance committee.

  • A bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited institution or a recognized equivalent is required. If you hold only a bachelor's degree, you must earn the master's degree while progressing towards the PhD.  A demonstrated superior level of academic achievement (minimum 3.5 GPA) in your graduate studies and support of a faculty research adviser are required.
  • Two minors, one from outside CEE
  • Minimum GPA of 3.5 in the major and above 3.0 in the minor fields
  • Each PhD student must have a graduate adviser to provide general academic guidance and to help with administrative matters, and a research adviser to supervise the student's dissertation research. The research adviser and the student need to identify funding paths for at least 3 years prior to enrollment of the PhD program.
  • Two examinations: 
    • Preliminary Exam
      • Written Preliminary Examination to test the student's ability to apply fundamentals, perform research, synthesize information, and think creatively to solve complex problems in GeoSystems.
    • Qualifying Exam - see department handbook for additional detail.
      • The PhD qualifying examination is administered by a committee of 4 faculty members, at least two from CEE, with each minor subject represented by a faculty member, and with at least one member from outside of CEE. The research/thesis advisor may be a member of the committee. The student sends the committee their research proposal at least a week before the exam. The student is expected to give an approximately 20-minute presentation on the proposed research.