Whether you’re interested in studying the world beneath your feet, or worlds farther away, the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences provides the tools for understanding the processes that shaped our planet and other solar system bodies. Understanding the earth system is also the key to addressing many environmental challenges, including climate change, water supply, and energy. Thus, as an earth scientist, you would be uniquely poised to help solve some of society’s most pressing problems. Because planets are complex systems, earth and planetary sciences is by necessity an interdisciplinary field. We apply biology, chemistry, physics, and math to the investigation of topics such as early life on earth, the structure of the earth’s deep interior, the nature of contaminant transport, and the evidence for water on Mars. If you’ve developed a passion for the basic sciences and are looking for a way to study these sciences outside traditional disciplinary boundaries, earth and planetary sciences is an ideal choice of major. The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences offers several undergraduate degrees. Please see the links to the left for more information about specific academic programs.
All students in the major have the opportunity, although are not required, to participate in faculty research programs. Many of our students take advantage of the varied research opportunities, providing them with valuable experience for future employment or for graduate school. Each year, several scientific papers and scientific abstracts are co-authored by undergraduates, and undergraduates have presented papers at national science meetings.
Department Policies for Majors and Minors
Minimum grade performance: The Department has set the following policy concerning the minimum acceptable grade performance. A grade of "C-" ("C" for summer field camp) is the minimum acceptable performance for each unit of credit for each required course, including those in mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Courses with grades of "D" may fulfill the College's 120 total hours requirement, but they do not meet the Departmental requirements. A grade of "C-" is also the minimum acceptable performance for each unit of credit for any course required as a prerequisite to enrolling in advanced or sequential courses.
Transfer Credits and University College: Coursework to be completed at another college or university and used to fulfill requirements for the EPS Major must have prior approval of the Department. Courses taken at the University College (evening school) normally may not be substituted for the courses required for an EPS major. Written consent from the Chairman of the Department is required for any such substitutions to apply, and must be sought before the course is taken.
Graduate level courses: All EPS graduate courses (course numbers 500 and above) are open to advanced undergraduates with permission of the undergraduate advisor and the specific course instructor.