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Undergraduate Program

Study the earth beneath your feet, or worlds far away.

The Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences provides the tools for understanding the processes that shape our planet and other solar system bodies. Understanding the Earth system is also the key to addressing many environmental challenges, including climate change, water quality, and sources of energy. Thus, as an earth scientist, you are uniquely poised to help solve some of society’s most pressing problems through careers in government, non-profit organizations, academia, and industry.

Because planets are complex systems, earth and planetary sciences is by necessity an interdisciplinary field. We apply biology, chemistry, physics, and math to investigate 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. Our majors offer a range of customization that allows students to focus on topics with the greatest relevance to their academic interests and career plans.

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.

In the Field: Geology of the Azores

In the Field: Geology of the Azores

get outside of the classroom

Research is strongly encouraged as part of the undergraduate experience as a valuable opportunity to participate in cutting-edge studies with faculty mentors. Field camps and study abroad allow students to take what they've learned into the field. Learn more about RESEARCH, FIELD CAMP, and STUDY ABROAD opportunities available within the department.

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General Policies

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 Director of Undergraduate Studies 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.

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Why Earth and Planetary Sciences?

From environmental issues to planetary science, from field trips in the United States and abroad, Earth and Planetary Sciences offers a rigorous yet flexible educational experience. Featured students: Molly Chaney, Zoe Lefebvre, Amanda Stadermann, and Landis Powell.

Internships & Careers

Finding a career after you graduate from Washington University can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, we have resources to help you.

Meet with on-campus career counselors. Discover where recent graduates were hired. Browse some of the internships our students have participated in. 

Explore Internship & Career Paths from EPS


Have questions? Contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies