Earth Science Major

The major in Earth Science provides an introduction to the study of the solid and fluid earth and its geological history. The program is designed to provide students with a solid background of related science fields, then delve into particular fields in earth science in greater depth. The major requires a minimum of 46 points to be completed.

An important requirement of the major is the senior capstone. The senior capstone experience is a culmination of what the student has learned throughout the major, in the form of a research thesis. The senior capstone is a requirement of the major, and students can complete the research with any of the department's affiliated institutions or with any other institute/faculty they feel would best guide their research forward, with department approval.

The Earth Science major also offers the possibility of an in-depth field experience through a six- to eight-week geology summer field course, as appropriate for students doing Geological Science as their Plan of Study. Interested students should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Earth Science Requirements

Required: 1 course in Calculus I or higher. 

Calculus I (Math 1101) 

Required: 3 courses in Chemistry and Physics. 

Option 1: Chemistry (Chem 1403-1404) & Physics (Phys 1201)

Option 2: Physics (Phys 1201-1202) & Chemistry (Chem 1403) 

*Note: Higher level courses can substitute those listed above.

18 points in Depth, Breadth, & Related Fields:

Depth courses have an earth and environmental science focus that build on the foundational courses taken in the requirements above. A minimum of 4 depth courses must be taken, and students are required to take at least one of the courses below:

Geochemistry for a Habitable Planet (EESC UN3101) 


Solid Earth Dynamics (EESC UN3201)

Breadth and related fields (2) courses are relevant for an earth science major, but do not require an earth science background. Several of these courses are offered in the department at the 2000, 3000, and 4000 level, as well as at Barnard College. Courses in other sciences, mathematics, statistics, and engineering may count towards this requirement, with program approval.

Note: EESC 4930 - Earth's Oceans & Atmosphere does not count towards fulfilling the major's depth or breadth requirements. 

Students complete a research project and Senior Thesis under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Senior Seminar (EESC UN3901) is taken twice, typically in each semester of your senior year, to support the thesis process.


Summer Geology Field Course: Student can complete a 6-8 week long summer geology field course rather than complete thesis research. Only students who are completing the Geological Science Plan of Study can replace the senior thesis with this option.  *Students who choose this option cannot be considered for departmental honors.

Students should discuss and develop individual plans of study with the Director of Undergraduate Studies or Undergraduate Program Manager. For the list of recommended plans of study and courses that go along with them, see Plans of Study for Majors. 

Note: A Plan of Study is not required by the major. They are suggestions meant to aid students in planning their coursework and hone in on specific topics in earth science. 

To keep track of your degree requirements, use the Earth Science Major Checklist.