Prospective Students

Students in the Geophysics graduate program study Earth and other planets to advance our fundamental understanding their origin, composition, and evolution, and explore the implications for life, for the environment, and for society.

The graduate program provides a broad education in the fundamentals of geophysics, alongside research and coursework spanning multiple specializations. Our flexible curriculum and multidisciplinary group allows us to welcome graduate students from a diverse range of backgrounds in science and engineering, resulting in graduates being well prepared for future careers in academia, industry, or public service.

Our multidisciplinary program offers graduate students a unique hands-on, collaborative learning environment. In addition to our core academic curriculum, we emphasize linking observational techniques and the collection of novel datasets for testing new theoretical and computational approaches. GP students participate extensively in field experiments, instrument development, laboratory investigations, and shipboard expeditions.

Is this graduate program for you?

You can either complete a PhD or Masters degree, here are some thoughts on which is best for you, and why you should choose Scripps.

Potential Advisors and Projects for Fall 2020 Admission

The following faculty and research scientists are interested in seeking new students for Fall 2021 intake.  If you wish to find out more about their research, please email them individually.  If you are are not sure what specific area of research you wish to pursue, or have any questions, please email the admissions coordinators, Ross Parnell-Turner and Catherine Constable at for help and guidance.

Catherine Constable
Geomagnetism. Possible projects include modeling paleosecular variation and linking paleomagnetic records of geomagnetic excursions and reversals to numerical dynamo simulations. Website:

Steven Constable
Marine electromagnetic methods.  Projects include the study of offshore groundwater, marine gas hydrate, tectonic plate boundaries, and pretty well any other geological feature found offshore.  We collect and interpret our own field data, but the lab is also interested in developing algorithms and software needed for data processing and modeling/inversion of EM data.

Wenyuan Fan
Earthquake seismology, environmental seismology, and marine geophysics. Possible projects include analysis of earthquake dynamic triggering in the Caribbean, studying subglacial hydrology with seismic tremors in Greenland, imaging fault zone materials with dense OBS arrays, and investigating submarine landslides in the Gulf of Mexico. Website:

Yuri Fialko
Geodesy and tectonics. Current projects include studies of sub-surface geometry of the Southern San Andreas Fault using space geodetic and seismic data, probing rheologic structure of the Earth using postseismic transients, evaluation of state of stress in seismogenic crust. Website:

Helen Fricker
Glaciology and remote sensing.  Satellite remote sensing (particularly radar and laser altimetry) of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets; mostly focussing on the ice shelves, to understand mass loss processes driving changes (basal and surface melting, and iceberg calving)

Alice Gabriel 
Computational and theoretical seismology. Projects are available which use high-performance computing and physics-based modeling constrained by a multitude of observations. Application areas range from the seismic cycle in subduction zones and tsunami genesis, to strong ground motion scenarios in complicated settings, to induced seismicity. Projects may involve utilising new methods in terms of numerical discretisation, uncertainty quantification, imaging and monitoring. Website:

Peter Gerstoft
Machine learning seismology. My group focuses on data-driven approaches supported by statistical and physical models. Recently we have focussed on tomography, deep clustering of noise phases, and extracting information from noise. Website:

Jennifer Haase
The Haase research lab investigates and develops innovative uses of GPS and GNSS technology for sensing the environment and improving understanding and prediction of geophysical processes. New students are welcome to imagine creative investigations of the tropical atmosphere including applications to hurricanes, storm surge, the North American monsoon, convection and convectively generated equatorial waves.

Matti Morzfeld
Data assimilation and theoretical geophysics. The research projects are interdisciplinary and revolve around creating new numerical methods (Markov chain Monte Carlo or optimization) and their application across disciplines in geophysics.

Ross Parnell-Turner
Marine geophysics. Possible projects, with sea-going opportunities, will investigate oceanic crustal formation, faulting and magmatism using earthquake seismology and underwater mapping with robots. Website:

Anne Pommier
Earth and planetary interiors. Different projects are available and will combine high-pressure and high-temperature experiments on Earth and planetary materials with geophysical observations, in order to probe the structure and dynamics of planetary interiors. The student will also have opportunities to participate in experiments on melts at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Lab (Chicago), and in an outreach program for K-12 teachers and students in the San Diego Unified School District. Website:

David Sandwell
Space geodesy and geodynamics. (1) Crustal deformation data from radar interferometry and GNSS are used to understand the earthquake cycle along the San Andreas Fault system. (2) New radar altimeter data from the NASA SWOT mission will reveal the gravity signatures of previously unmapped tectonic structures in the deep oceans. Lab web site:

Mark Zumberge
Projects include 1) the advancement of optical fiber sensors for strain measurements on land and on the seafloor.  This involves fabrication of optical interferometers as well as analysis of instrument noise and real strain signals.  2) Measurement of time-lapse gravity for mapping ground water changes. Website:


Requirements for Admission

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the PhD program listed here, a major in physics, mathematics, or earth sciences, is recommended. There are various application fee waiver programs offered by the UC San Diego Graduate Division. Please inquire with for possible fee waiver options, and see here for some further details.

Applications for Fall 2021 entry are now open HERE The deadline is December 2, 2020 Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please email

Program of Study

Details of the program of study, and course requirements can be found here.

Financial Support

All PhD applicants are considered for financial support. More information about funding can be found here

Additional Information

A list of current GP graduate students can be found here.

For additional information, the graduate student handbooks can be found here