Doctoral Programs

Interested in applying to our MS or PhD programs? View presentations from this year's info sessions.


Students observe rupture sites from a M7.2 earthquakes Ridgecrest California


The Scripps Institution of Oceanography PhD program is organized into three separate academic programs. Each is responsible for all graduate educational activities in its area, including teaching, advising, and examining. Prospective PhD students will apply directly to one or more.

Academic programs

A graduate student's work normally will be concentrated in one of several curricular groups under one of the academic programs:

Climate-Ocean-Atmosphere Curricular Groups

Geosciences of the Earth, Oceans, and Planets Curricular Groups

Ocean Biosciences Curricular Groups

The interdisciplinary nature of research in marine and earth sciences is emphasized; students are encouraged to take courses from various UC San Diego departments and to consider interdisciplinary research projects.

Additional programs

Program for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research (PIER)

The Program for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research (PIER) is a graduate specialization for select doctoral students who seek solutions to today's environmental challenges.

This PhD Specialization is designed to allow students to obtain standard training in their chosen field and an opportunity to interact with peers in different disciplines throughout the duration of their PhD training.

Admission to PIER is a competitive process with 6 - 8 students granted admission each year from the ten participating UC San Diego departments. 

More information can be found on the PIER Program website.

Earthquake Science and Applied Geophysics Joint Doctoral Program with SDSU

A joint graduate group from the Geophysics Program of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) and the Department of Geological Sciences at San Diego State University (SDSU) offers a Joint Doctoral Program in Geophysics.

The complementary specialties and ongoing, vigorous collaborations between the two groups result in two focus areas: earthquake science and applied geophysics. Integrating geophysics at UC San Diego and SDSU provides outstanding opportunities for students to develop the skills needed to address important local, regional, and global societal problems where geophysics can contribute to the solutions.

Strong capabilities will be in:

Earthquake-hazard investigations (incorporating tools such as observational and computational seismology, airborne and satellite-based geodesy and remote sensing, and earthquake geology), and energy, resource, and environmental exploration methods (mainly land and marine seismology and electromagnetics).

More information can be found on the Joint Doctoral Program website.

Graduates will be prepared to begin rewarding geophysics careers and assume leadership roles as university faculty, government scientists, and industry researchers. Joint UCSD and SDSU committees will administer and monitor the admission, advising, evaluation, graduation, and all other academic processes related to the joint doctoral program. Students will spend at least one academic year of residency at each campus.

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Geophysics will be awarded upon completion of the program in the names of The Regents of the University of California on behalf of UC San Diego and The Trustees of the California State University on behalf of SDSU. Prospective applicants will apply through SDSU.

Concurrent PhD / MBA Program

The Department of Scripps Institution of Oceanography offers a concurrent degree program allowing interested PhD students to complete an MBA at the Rady School of Management.

Students who are admitted to Scripps may, with the consent of their academic advisor, apply to Rady.  Application to the MBA program is through the usual admissions process.  Students may begin the MBA program no earlier than after the completion of their departmental exam and no later than the fall quarter following their advancement to candidacy.

An extensive independent study, jointly supervised by Scripps and Rady faculty, enables the student to develop linkages between Scripps and Rady studies. Interested students are encouraged to consult early with Rady MBA Admissions and with their Scripps academic advisors.