E&PS Major and Minor
Major in Earth and Planetary Sciences
The E&PS 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.
Students 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.
Students graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in earth and planetary sciences will be able to:
- Understand the scientific method and how it applies to earth and planetary sciences. Specifically:
- Appreciate the design of programs to acquire empirical information in geoscience
- Demonstrate expertise in observing natural processes either in the field or in the laboratory relevant to earth and planetary sciences
- Exhibit skill in interpreting geoscience observations
- Understand the role of conceptual, mathematical, and numerical models in geoscience
- Demonstrate skill in communicating geoscience information in oral and written forms
- 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
- Understand and quantify the processes cycling key conserved quantities in the Earth, such as: energy, water, abundant elements, rare elements
- Exhibit quantitative understanding of a core sub-discipline of earth and planetary sciences, such as: geology, geophysics, geochemistry, geobiology, oceanography, atmospheric science, or planetary science
- Demonstrate disciplinary knowledge and skills in basic science, germane to earth and planetary sciences, including mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology.
To be eligible for honors in E&PS, you must:
- Have taken a challenging set of courses during the four years of study
- Have a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the major requirements
- Complete a senior thesis at a level judged to be sufficiently high by the faculty of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
- Present the results of the thesis orally in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
To notify us that you are eligible for honors, you must:
- Complete the honors checklist [link] after February 1 of your senior year and take it to Dr. Dimitri A. Sverjensky.
- Return the signed checklist to the Office of Academic Advising by April 1. You do not need to make an appointment to return the checklist, but it must be signed by the correct representative from your department or it will not be processed.
Minor in Earth and Planetary Sciences
The E&PS 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.