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Undergraduate Program

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences offers programs of study for majors, joint majors, and minors in Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS), as well as a new program in Global Environmental Change and Sustainability (GECS).

Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) Major and Minor

The EPS major is for undergraduates interested in the study of the physical, chemical, and biological processes that shape the Earth and the other planets, drawing on the disciplines of geology, geochemistry, hydrology, ecology, geobiology, oceanography, and atmospheric science.

The student can design a specific plan of appropriate courses in consultation with the coordinator for undergraduate programs in the department. Depending on the student’s background, it may be appropriate initially to take a freshman seminar or 100-level course designed for the non-major. Those who wish to be majors may proceed directly to courses at the 200- and, in many cases, the 300-level. Our courses provide a broad educational base in the Earth and planetary, and the environmental earth sciences, and enable exploration of a set of electives at the 300-level, depending on the area of interest.

Learning Goals for a Bachelor's degree in Earth & Planetary Sciences (Majors):

Students graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Earth & Planetary Sciences will be able to:

1.Understand the scientific method and how it applies to Earth & Planetary Sciences. Specifically:

        a. Appreciate the design of programs to acquire empirical information in geoscience.

        b. Demonstrate expertise in observing natural processes either in the field or in the laboratory relevant to Earth & Planetary Sciences.

        c.  Exhibit skill in interpreting geoscience observations.

        d.  Understand the role of conceptual, mathematical, and numerical models in geoscience.

        e.  Demonstrate skill in communicating geoscience information in oral and written forms.

2.  Understand the characteristics, origin and evolution of the main component reservoirs of the Earth and planets. For example, the atmosphere, ocean, biosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, mantle, and core.

3.   Understand and quantify the processes cycling key conserved quantities in the Earth, such as: energy, water, abundant elements, rare elements.

4.   Exhibit quantitative understanding of a core sub-discipline of Earth & Planetary Sciences, such as: geology, geophysics, geochemistry, geobiology, oceanography, atmospheric science, or planetary science.

5.   Demonstrate disciplinary knowledge and skills in basic science, germane to Earth & Planetary Sciences, including, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology.

Checklist for Major.

Honors in EPS Major.

The EPS minor is for science undergraduates interested in applying their major discipline to Earth’s environment through geology, geochemistry, ecology, geo-biology, oceanography, and atmospheric science. Students are expected to have at least 16 credits in (N), (Q), or (E) courses. Students will take 12 credits in the department, at least six of which are at the 300-level.

Learning Goals for a Bachelor's degree in Earth & Planetary Sciences (minors):
Two of Items 1(a)-(1e) above and Items 2 and 3 above.


Global Environmental Change and Sustainability (GECS) Major and Minor

The GECS major and minor are interdepartmental programs introducing students to the science of the Earth and its living and nonliving systems as well as how humans interact with Earth and its natural systems and how humans can use powerful tools, such as policy and communication to harm or help those systems. The goals are to advance awareness of the magnitude and consequences of these issues and to train the next generation of problem-solvers who will address the effects of global environmental change.

Students' backgrounds are typically specialized within traditional disciplines; a primary purpose of this major is to develop the ability of students to venture beyond the confines of those disciplines. Students will be exposed to theory, research, and the practical applications of both throughout their coursework.

GECS major.

Undergraduate Internships, Research Opportunities and Student Groups

Learn more about undergraduate internships, research & student groups opportunities.

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