An undergraduate in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences will develop a major program in one of two majors: Environmental Geoscience or Geological Sciences. Programs can be designed to meet the interests and objectives of each student. 

Major Requirements

Major Requirements: Environmental Geoscience

The field of Environmental Geoscience is interdisciplinary and evolving. This bachelor of science program serves as an excellent major for students who wish to concentrate in the scientific aspects of sustainability, including those who might not be looking toward professional careers as scientists. Many Environmental Geoscience students go on to graduate work in environmental law, environmental policy, or sustainability 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 (EESC2201–2208), consisting of nine 2-credit courses (plus associated labs). These courses can be taken in any order and do not have prerequisites. They are recommended particularly for first-year students and sophomores. They are usually offered as two-course pairs, with one course meeting for the first half of the semester and another course meeting for 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, 2–4 Environmental Systems courses are offered each semester. Environmental Geoscience majors are required to take twelve credits toward this requirement. Students have the option to take our introductory geology course, Exploring the Earth (EESC1132), to fulfill four credits.

Students in this major must complete the following course requirements:

(A) 12 credits from EESC2201–2208 (2 credits each, plus laboratories) and/or EESC1132 (4 credits)

  • Environmental Systems: The Human Footprint (EESC2201)
  • Environmental Systems: Ecosystems (EESC2202) 
  • Environmental Systems: Water Resources (EESC2203)
  • Environmental Systems: Geochemistry (EESC2204)
  • Environmental Systems: Climate Change (EESC2205)
  • Environmental Systems: Earthquakes (EESC2207)
  • Environmental Systems: Quantitative Methods (EESC2208)
  • Exploring the Earth (EESC1132)

Note: Some substitutions are possible. Approved substitutions include: BIOL2010 for EESC2202, EESC1170 for EESC2203, EESC1174 for EESC2205, and EESC1157 for EESC2206.

(B) EESC2220 Earth Materials (4 credits)

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

  • Up to three credits can be from 1000-level courses.
  • Up to six credits can be from 2000-level courses.
  • Up to six credits can be from approved non-EESC courses.
    (Approved courses: all ENVS courses, BIOL3210, BIOL4450,  BIOL5130, CHEM2231, CHEM4475, CSCI1127, ECON2277, ECON2278, ECON3391, ECON3392, HIST2406, HIST4703, INTL2260, MATH3305, PHIL5515, PHIL5534, PHYS3301, SOCY3346, SOCY3349, SOCY3350, SOCY5562, THEO5429, or other courses, such as field camps, by permission of the Undergraduate Studies Committee.)
  • Up to three credits of independent study (EESC5596–EESC5598) can count toward this requirement.
  • Any EESC 3000 level or above will count towards this requirement.

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

  • EESC5582 and EESC5583 Senior Research seminar (2 credits each), or
  • EESC5595 Senior Thesis (at least six credits)

(E) Three corequisite courses in Natural Sciences and Mathematics (12 credits)

  • Calculus II (MATH1101, MATH1103 or MATH1105) and
  • Two semesters of Physics with lab (PHYS2200/2050 and PHYS2201/2051), or
  • Two semesters of Chemistry (CHEM1109–1110 with labs CHEM1111–1112 or CHEM1117–1118 with labs CHEM1119–1120), or
  • Three semesters of Biology (BIOL2000, BIOL2010, and lab BIOL2040)

AP credits cannot substitute for the Physics, Chemistry or Biology corequisite (E) above. Students planning to go on to graduate programs in science are encouraged to take at least four semesters of introductory Physics, Chemistry, and/or Biology.

Information for First-Year Environmental Geoscience Majors

For those students who would like to explore the major in Environmental Geoscience, it is suggested that students take two to four of the Environmental Systems courses (EESC2201–2208, with laboratories) and/or Exploring the Earth (EESC1132) during their first year. The laboratory science requirement (E above) should be taken during the first or second year.


Major Requirements: Geological Sciences

This major combines elements of traditional Earth and environmental sciences programs and is considered excellent preparation for those working toward graduate school in the geosciences or employment in industry following graduation with a B.S. degree.

(A) Two required courses (8 credits)

  • Exploring the Earth (EESC1132) with laboratory, 4 credits
  • Earth Materials (EESC2220) with laboratory, 4 credits

Note: Any pair of Environmental Systems courses (EESC2201–2208, plus labs) can substitute for EESC1132.

(B) At least 11 credits from the following courses

  • Stratigraphy and Sedimentation (EESC2264) with laboratory, 4 credits
  • Structural Geology (EESC3385) with laboratory, 4 credits
  • Introduction to Geophysics (EESC3391), 3 credits
  • Petrology (EESC3378) with laboratory, 4 credits

(C) At least 19 credits of elective courses, with the following requirements:

  • Electives include all EESC courses and approved interdisciplinary options (below).
  • Up to three credits toward this requirement may be from a 1000-level course
  • At least seven credits must be from EESC courses numbered 3000 or above.
  • Up to six credits from approved non-EESC courses can count toward this requirement (approved courses: MATH3305, PHYS3301, CHEM2231, CHEM4475, or others by permission of the Undergraduate Studies Committee).
  • Up to six credits from independent study or senior thesis (EESC5595–5599) can count toward this requirement.

(D) Five corequisite courses in Natural Sciences and Mathematics (20 credits)

  • Calculus II (MATH1103 or MATH1105)
  • Two semesters of Physics with lab (PHYS2200/2050 and PHYS2201/2051)
  • Two semesters of Chemistry (CHEM1109–1110 with labs CHEM1111–1112 or CHEM1117–1118 with labs CHEM1119–1120)

AP credits cannot substitute for the Physics and Chemistry corequisite (D) above.

Note: All Geological Sciences majors are strongly encouraged to take a geology summer field course, which can count toward requirement C.

Information for First-Year Geological Sciences Majors

The following courses are recommended for first-year Geological Sciences majors, if their schedules permit:

  • Exploring the Earth I (EESC1132) with laboratory
  • Earth Materials (EESC2220) with laboratory
  • Two semesters of Calculus (MATH1102–1103)
  • Two semesters of Chemistry (CHEM1109–1110) with labs (CHEM1111–1112)