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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

Major Requirements: Environmental Geoscience

earth and environmental sciences

The field of Environmental Geoscience is new, interdisciplinary and evolving. This program serves as an excellent major for students who wish to concentrate in the sciences, but who may not be looking toward professional careers as scientists, as well as for students planning graduate work in environmental law, environmental policy or environmental studies. Students majoring in Environmental Geoscience should work out their programs closely with a departmental advisor to insure both breadth and depth in this subject area.

To provide students with training in the interdisciplinary nature of Environmental Geoscience, the major includes an introductory sequence in Environmental Systems (GE 201-208), consisting of eight two-credit courses (plus associated labs, GE 211-208). These courses can be taken in any order and do not have prerequisites. They are recommended particularly for first year students and sophomores. Environmental Geoscience majors are required to take six of these eight courses. They are offered as two-course pairs, with one course meeting for the first half of the semester and another course (usually the next in sequence) meeting the second half of the semester, in the same time slot. Students are welcome to take one or both of the courses in each of these pairs in any given semester. In general, four Environmental Systems courses will be offered each fall semester, and two in the spring semester. Over any given two-year period, all eight courses will be offered at least once.

Students in this major must complete the following course requirements:

(A) 12 credits from GE 201-208 (two credits each, plus laboratories GE 211-218)

Course # Course Name
GE 201 Environmental Systems: The Human Footprint
GE 202 Environmental Systems: Ecosystems
GE 203 Environmental Systems: Water Resources
GE 204 Environmental Systems: The Critical Zone
GE 205 Environmental Systems: Climate Change
GE 206 Environmental Systems: Oceans
GE 207 Environmental Systems: Earthquakes
GE 208 Environmental Systems: Quantitative Methods


  • Some substitutions are possible, but each substituted course only counts as two credits toward this requirement, and remaining credits cannot count toward the elective requirement below. Approved substitutions include: GE 167 for GE 201, GE 170 for GE 203, GE 250 for GE 204, GE 174 for GE 205, GE 157 for GE 206.
  • The Student Services computer system does not allow you to register for two courses offered during the same time slot (even though in this case they will not meet at the same time during the semester). To register for both courses in a semester (for example, GE 201/211 and GE 202/212), register for one (and its lab) normally, and then email Mary McCrosson in Student Services and request that she register you into the other course and lab section. You should do this while you are registering for classes—don’t wait until the semester starts.

(B) GE 220 Earth Materials (+ GE 221, four credits)

(C) At least 18 credits of elective courses. All GE courses count toward this requirement, with the following limitations:

  • Up to three credits can be from 100-level courses.
  • Up to six credits can be from 200-level courses.
  • Up to six credits can be from approved non-GE courses (approved courses: BI 401, BI 405, BI 407, BI 422, BI 436, BI 442, BI 456, BI 458, BI 486, BI 513, CH 231, CH 575, CS 127, EC 278, IN 260, MB 145, MT 305, PH 301, PO 202, SC 348, SC 349, SC 350, SC 560, UN 256, or others, such as field camps, by permission of the Undergraduate Studies Committee).
  • Up to three credits of independent study (GE 596-GE 598) can count toward this requirement.

(D) Senior research experience (at least four credits)

  • GE 582 and GE 583 Senior capstone course (two credits each), or
  • GE 595 Senior Thesis (at least six credits)

(E) Three co-requisite courses in Natural Sciences and Mathematics (12 credits)

  • Calculus II (MT 101, MT 103 or MT 105), and
  • Two semesters of Physics (PH 209-210 or PH 211-212 w/lab PH 203-204), or
  • Two semesters of Chemistry (CH 109-110 w/lab CH 111-112 or CH 117-118 w/lab CH 119-120), or
  • Two semesters of Biology (BI 200 and 201 w/lab BI 204)
  • AP credits cannot substitute for the Physics, Chemistry or Biology corequisite (E) above.

Information for First Year Environmental Geoscience Students

For students who would like to explore the major in Environmental Geoscience, it is suggested that they take two to four of the Environmental Systems courses (GE 201-208, with laboratories GE 211-218) during their first year. The laboratory science requirement (E above) should be taken during the first or second year.

Environmental Geoscience Major: Learning Goals

All Environmental Geoscience majors will be able to:

  • Describe and apply basic Earth and environmental scientific concepts and information.
  • Collect and interpret quantitative Earth and environmental scientific data.
  • Think critically about scientific aspects of challenges currently facing society.
  • If this is their goal, enter graduate or professional school in environmental science, policy, law or other related fields.
  • If this is their goal, obtain a job or internship in an environmentally related field.