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Graduate programs

grad student The University of California, Berkeley offers a full graduate program in paleobiology, centered on a department and the UC Museum of Paleontology. The Museum provides special facilities, collections and expertise to graduate students but does not grant degrees. Graduate degrees with emphasis in paleontology may be earned in the Departments of Integrative Biology (IB), Earth and Planetary Science (EPS) [no Masters degree offered], and Geography (G). Relevant courses to build a paleontology curriculum are offered through these departments, and all paleontology faculty in these departments are also Curators in the Museum.

Students of paleobiology benefit from having access to the facilities, expertise, and collections of the Museum. Facilities include DNA extraction, molecular sequencing, macro- and microfossil prep labs, paleohistology and wet labs; and an environmental scanning electron microscope. The Museum has one of the largest collections of fossil protists, invertebrates, plants, and vertebrates in the nation, as well as large collections of modern vertebrate skeletal elements and invertebrates.

Grants and awards for students

Requirements for admission for graduate study vary by department, and students are advised to obtain current information by writing to the department of their choice, reading the General Catalog of UC Berkeley, or visiting the department's website (see Application process below). An undergraduate major does not dictate which department a student may enter. Thus, for example, geology students with interests in paleontology may apply to the Department of Integrative Biology or Geography, as well as Earth and Planetary Science.

All entering graduate students are generally expected to have met or to meet the undergraduate requirements for the department they enter. Ph.D. students must complete their oral examination before the end of their second year of study, write a dissertation based on original research in paleontology broadly defined, and be in official residence at Berkeley for at least two years. Normative time for a Ph.D. is 5 years. Master's programs are offered in Earth and Planetary Science. Beyond those general requirements, graduate curricula are designed by the student and her/his faculty guidance committee to assure a broad training and expertise specific to the student's career interests in paleontology.

Courses will be selected from advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in evolutionary biology, paleontology, ecology, systematics, vertebrate, invertebrate, protist and plant biology and paleontology, molecular biology, field geology and biology, sedimentary geology, stratigraphy, geochemistry, oceanography, statistics, or other appropriate subjects in any department at Berkeley.

Course offerings
Geography, Earth and Planetary Science, and Integrative Biology each offer courses (100 series are upper division; 200 are graduate) that make up the Paleontology Program. A selection of these and other courses will be made by the student and her/his committee that will constitute the paleobiology program of study. See the Department Web Sites for complete listings of courses, some of which also may be of interest to paleontology graduate students. Listed below are the specific departmental requirements for admission to graduate study and a selection of courses of interest to paleontology students.

  • Geography
    Entrance requirements: An undergraduate degree in biology, geology, geography, a recent General GRE examination, and a recent pass on the TOEFL examination for foreign applicants.

    133. Islands and Oceans
    143. Coastal Landforms
    147. Climatic Change
    148. Biogeography
    149. Coral Reefs and Islands
    180. Field Methods for Physical Geography
    188. Geographic Information Systems
    257. Topics in Climatology
    260. Topics in Biogeography
    261. Field and Laboratory Techniques in Quaternary Paleoecology
    266. Oceans and Coasts

  • Earth and Planetary Science
    Entrance requirements: An undergraduate degree, usually in geological science, a recent GRE examination in Geology, 2 years of mathematics and one year of general chemistry and physics, and a recent pass on the TOEFL examination for foreign applicants.

    101. Field Geology and Digital Mapping [generally closed to non-EPS students]
    107. Global Tectonics
    115. Stratigraphy and Earth History
    116. Structural Geology and Tectonics
    118. Advanced Field Course [generally closed to non-EPS students]
    119. Geologic Field Studies
    131. Geochemistry
    145. Geological Oceanography
    185. Marine Geobiology
    212. Advanced Stratigraphy and Tectonics
    241. Geochemical Approaches to Modern and Past Environments and Climates
    262 and 264. Sedimentary Rocks and Processes
    401. Use of the Electron Microprobe
    402. Electron Microscopy and X-Ray Diffraction

  • Integrative Biology
    Entrance requirements: An undergraduate degree in biology, geology, geography, anthropology, molecular biology, or similar field; a recent General GRE examination and the GRE Area exam in Biology, Geology or other appropriate field; a recent pass on the TOEFL examination for foreign applicants.

    100B. Principles of Biodiversity
    101. Diversity of Plants and Fungi
    103. Invertebrate Zoology and Paleontology
    104. Natural History of the Vertebrates
    105. General Ecology
    106. Biological Oceanography
    107. Principles of Plant Morphology
    108. Principles of Paleontology
    130. Evolutionary and Functional Vertebrate Morphology
    134. Prinicples of Integrative Morphology
    135. The Mechanics of Organisms
    142. Introduction to Human Osteology
    154. Plant Population and Community Ecology
    155. Ecosystem Ecology
    160. Evolution
    165. Molecular Evolution
    168. Systematics of Vascular Plants
    173. Mammalogy
    174. Ornithology
    175. Herpetology
    180. Micropaleontology
    181. Evolution of Plants in Geological Time
    182. Invertebrate Paleontology
    183. Evolution of the Vertebrates
    184. Morphology of the Vertebrate Skeleton
    185. Human Paleontology
    186. Evolution of Hominid Behavior
    200A. Principles of Phylogenetics: Systematics
    200B. Principles of Phylogenetics. Ecology and Evolution
    234. Seminar on Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles
    259. Advanced Paleoecology
    264. Seminar in Evolutionary Biology of the Vertebrates
    267. Evolution and Systematics of Mammals
    268. Seminar in Evolution Above the Species Level
    280. Seminar in Paleontological Research
    281. Seminar in Evolution
    282. Paleontology and Evolution of Amphibians, Reptiles and Birds
    284. Advanced Stratigraphic Paleontology
    285. Advanced Marine Micropaleontology
    286. Seminars in Paleontology

Application process
Prospective students should correspond with a faculty member in their area of interest before applying to any graduate department. Applications should be directed to the department most closely associated with their interests or the faculty member with whom they choose to work. To find out more about the paleobiology program and departmental requirements or to request an application, use the contact information below: