Undergraduate degree: BS
About the major
Students in the Department of Earth Sciences learn about the minerals, rocks, soils, and waters that make up the earth, and the processes that shape the earth from deep in its interior to the atmosphere. Earth science applies the basic sciences of physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics to understanding processes that have shaped the earth and other planetary bodies. Earth scientists combine field investigations with laboratory experiments and theoretical studies to understand the physical, chemical and biological processes that govern the behavior and interactions of complex earth systems.
Earth science applications include natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods, landslides and volcanic eruptions that affect humans. Other subdisciplines investigate how humans alter the earth’s environments, where we pollute rivers and ground water, cause rapid erosion, attempt to re-engineer rivers and shorelines, and alter the earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and global climate. Earth science research also includes the study of the deep earth to understand processes that drive the motions of tectonic plates and generate the earth’s magnetic field.
A little more info
- Earth sciences offers four customized tracks for students: geology, paleontology, environmental geoscience, and geophysics.
- Many earth science students are engaged in research projects.
- Many classes have field trips so students can view geologic formations firsthand.
- Major-required classes are typically small, and students work closely with faculty members.
A major in earth sciences prepares students for high-paying jobs in the fields of environmental science, hydrology, conservation, and energy and natural resources. The major prepares students for jobs as geoscientists, environmental scientists, environmental engineers, computer systems analysts, and postsecondary teachers. The broad background and emphasis on communication skills and quantitative thinking also prepares students for careers in business, law, and other professional tracks.