Earth and Planetary Sciences Major Requirements

(Also see Requirements for a Bachelor's Degree.)

The Bachelor of Arts in Earth and Planetary Sciences is for undergraduates interested in the study of the physical, chemical, and biological processes that shape the Earth and the other planets, drawing on the disciplines of geology, geochemistry, geophysics, hydrology, ecology, geobiology, oceanography, and atmospheric science.

Students should design a specific plan of appropriate courses in consultation with their advisor and the EPS Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). Those who wish to be majors may proceed directly to the introductory courses at the 200-level, but depending on the student’s background, it may be appropriate initially to take a freshman seminar or 100-level course designed for the non-major. Our courses provide a broad educational base in the Earth, planetary, and environmental sciences and enable exploration of a set of electives at the 300- and 400-level, depending on the area of interest.

The department requires a total of 9 credits at the 100- or 200-level and 12 credits at the 300-level or above within the department, as well as science and math foundation courses from other departments. All courses must be taken for a letter grade, and students must earn a grade of C- or better to apply the course to the major.

EPS Core Courses
AS.270.224Oceans & Atmospheres3
AS.270.220The Dynamic Earth: An Introduction to Geology3
AS.270.221The Dynamic Earth Laboratory2
Other Science & Math Courses
AS.030.101Introductory Chemistry I3
AS.110.106Calculus I (Biology and Social Sciences)4
or AS.110.108 Calculus I (Physical Sciences & Engineering)
AS.110.107Calculus II (For Biological and Social Science)4.0
or AS.110.109 Calculus II (For Physical Sciences and Engineering)
or AS.110.113 Honors Single Variable Calculus
AS.171.101General Physics: Physical Science Major I4.0
or AS.171.103 General Physics I for Biological Science Majors
or AS.171.107 General Physics for Physical Sciences Majors (AL)
AS.171.102General Physics: Physical Science Major II4.0
or AS.171.104 General Physics/Biology Majors II
or AS.171.108 General Physics for Physical Science Majors (AL)
EPS Elective Courses 1
One course at the 100-level or above (1-3 credits)1-3
Four courses at the 300-level or above (at least 3 credits each)12
Total Credits40-42

Courses recommended to enrich the educational background of the major:

EN.553.291Linear Algebra and Differential Equations4
EN.570.108Introduction to Environmental Engineering and Design3

Sample Program of Study

First Year
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
 9 7
Second Year
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
AS.030.1013AS.270.1xx-2xx (or higher)3
 7 7
Third Year
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
 3 3
Fourth Year
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
 3 3
Total Credits 42

Honors in EPS Major

To receive honors in Earth and Planetary Sciences, students must meet the following criteria:

  • Take a challenging set of courses during the four years of study.
  • Earn a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the major requirements.
  • Complete a senior thesis (6 credits of AS.270.510 Senior Thesis taken over two semesters) at a level judged to be sufficiently high by the faculty of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
  • Present the results of the thesis orally in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.