In addition to general Institute and basic division requirements, candidates for the Ph.D. degree in geochemistry are required to take one term of Ge 109 in the geochemistry option and are required to demonstrate an understanding of the field through a total of 90 units of course work at the 100 level or higher spread over four of the subdisciplines offered in the option: petrology/mineralogy, isotope geochemistry, cosmochemistry, water chemistry/oceans, atmospheres, biogeochemistry, or advanced chemistry. A student with substantial prior experience in some of the subdisciplines may use prior course work to substitute up to 45 of these units with the approval of the geochemistry option representative. In the oral candidacy exam, the student will be subject to examination in all four of the chosen subdisciplines. All students must have a basic knowledge of chemistry at the level of Ch 21 and mathematics at the level of Ge 108.
Students completing the geochemistry academic program are required to submit a tentative proposal for their research no later than May 1 of the third year in residence. This proposal should document the scientific importance of the project relative to previous work, feasibility of completion within an allowable graduate student tenure, and, if any, preliminary results. The proposals will be reviewed by the geochemistry faculty.
Units at Caltech nominally reflect the total hours a typical student will spend per week in the classroom, the lab and with homework. Thus, a nine unit course may involve three hours in the classroom, two hours in a laboratory and four hours doing homework each week.