Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry (MCG)

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


Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry PhD program and Master's degree programs at scripps institution of oceanography

The fields of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry explore chemical and geochemical processes in the oceans, the solid earth, and the atmosphere.

Areas of advanced study and research include:

  • Atmosphere-ocean chemistry feedbacks
  • Physical and inorganic chemistry of seawater
  • Ocean circulation and mixing based on chemical and isotopic tracers
  • Marine organic geochemistry
  • Marine bioinorganic chemistry
  • Geochemical interactions of sediments with seawater and interstitial waters
  • Biogeochemical cycles of major and trace elements
  • Isotopic geochemistry of the solid earth and meteorites
  • Atmospheric trace gas chemistry
  • The ocean's and earth's geochemical history recorded in polar ice cores, corals and sediments
  • The chemistry of freshwater systems
  • The impacts of human activities on geochemical cycles

Studies are interdisciplinary and involve integration of chemical concepts with information about the physical, biological, or geological processes that influence natural systems. Students in the Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry curricular group are encouraged to explore these links.


Requirements for Admission

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the PhD program listed here, a major in chemistry, geology, biochemistry, or related field, is required.  GRE scores are not required and will not be considered in admissions.  

Prospective PhD and MS applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to all potential advisors based on research interests to ascertain whether the program will satisfy their career goals. 


Factors that we use to evaluate applicants include, but are not limited to, (1) Academic Preparation (e.g., courses taken and grades obtained, past research experience, etc.); (2) Scholarly potential (e.g., as indicated in recommendation letters, academic success in light of any challenges faced etc.); (3) Diversity, equity, and inclusion contributions; (4) Alignment with the program (e.g., can the applicant’s career goals be met by the program); (5) Realistic self-appraisal; and (6) Long-term goals.

For full consideration, please submit applications by December 7thApplications submitted after the deadline may be considered on a case-by-case basis.


All PhD applicants receive financial support.  PhD program applicants should be aware that funding for PhD students is usually supplied by individual advisors and that such funding is often very limited; hence, all applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for external fellowship support (e.g., the NSF GRFP) prior to admission or within their first year in the program.  In addition, student support during the first year may come from a variety of internal sources such as named departmental fellowships.  Typically, students in their first-year of the PhD program do not hold teaching assistant positions. After their first year has been completed, PhD students may apply for teaching assistantships after consulting with their advisors.  More information about funding can be found here.     

MS students are often self-funded, but in some cases, MS students may be supported by research grants. MS students are also eligible to serve as teaching assistants after they have received the appropriate training.    

Program of Study for PhD

In their first year, MCG doctoral students are required to take Physical Oceanography (SIOC 210), Marine Chemistry (SIOG 260), and either Biological Oceanography (SIOB 280) or Marine Geology (SIOG 240) , as well as three additional elective courses. First year MGC students are encouraged to enroll in the supplemental 2-unit laboratory component of SIOG 260.  

In their second year, students are required to take a further three elective courses. Although the exact choice of elective courses  will depend on the student’s research interests, these required electives must be four-unit courses that are offered at the graduate level. Topics may include isotope geochemistry, biogeochemistry, aqueous chemistry, paleoclimate, atmospheric chemistry, microbiology, bioinformatics, marine ecology, data analysis/statistics, programming, science communication, instrumental methods, or other subject areas deemed pertinent to the student’s PhD research.  Students should consult with their guidance committee when selecting courses. 

After their first year, MCG students are expected to enroll in the 2-unit seminar SIOG 268 for at least 1 quarter per year unless excused by the curricular group coordinator.  

Program of Study for MS

Required course work:

  • SIOC 210. Physical Oceanography (4 units)
  • SIOG 260. Marine Chemistry (4 units)
  • Select one of the following:
    SIOG 240. Marine Geology (4 units)
    SIOB 280. Biological Oceanography (4 units)

Elective course work:

Students may fulfill the remaining units of required course work through elective course offerings selected in consultation with the students’ guidance committee. 

Research in Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry

Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Faculty and Researchers: