Effective Winter 2014

May be elected as a departmental major

The Earth and Environmental Sciences major trains students to receive a broad foundation in natural and physical sciences related to environmental and Earth sciences. Students are required to learn material from several core areas of the Earth sciences. The program also includes a field requirement that takes students off campus to study and apply their knowledge. Finally, students are encouraged, but not required, to complete a specialization in a subject area of their choosing. Students in this program of study can earn either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. A Bachelor of Science degree requires students complete at least 60 credits in science and math courses.

Prerequisites to the Major

Prerequisites to the major provide students with background knowledge in topics related to Earth and environmental science and in core natural science areas. These should be completed as soon as possible.

  1. Earth and Environmental Science Requirements.
    Choose one from each of the following two categories:
    • Category I: An introductory geoscience course with a laboratory (EARTH 116, 119&118, 120, or 201), or an introductory geosciences course without a laboratory (EARTH 119, 284 or 205+206) combined with a laboratory course (EARTH 118 or 207).
    • Category II: An introductory course in global change, oceanography, or environmental science (EARTH 171, 222&223, 201, 202, 284 or 320).
  2. MATH 115 (Calculus I)
  3. Choose at least 2 out of the following 4 options for chemistry, physics, and biology courses:
    • Option I:  CHEM 130 (General Chemistry) with CHEM 125+126  (lab + discussion) highly recommended
    • Option II: PHYSICS 140 and 141 (Physics I and lab)
    • Option III: BIOLOGY 162, 171, or 172 (Introductory Cell Biology or Ecology)
    • Option IV: Choose one from
      • MATH 116 (Calculus II),
      • MATH 214 or 216 (Differential Equations),
      • CHEM 230 (Physical Chemistry) or 210/211 (Organic Chemistry and Lab), or
      • PHYSICS 240/241 (Physics II and Lab).

Recommended Prerequisites

Recommended introductory field experience. Students are encouraged in their first year of declaring the major to participate in a departmental international or domestic field trip over spring break or summer.

Students interested in continuing on to graduate school or professional work in the geosciences are encouraged to choose their prerequisites in consultation with a department advisor. See also the other recommendations listed below.

Requirements for the Major

The  requirements for the major are:

  1. Core Courses
    Core courses in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Major are designed to provide students with training in the physical, chemical, and biologic processes relevant to the present form, and evolution of the Earth.

    Students should choose four courses from the following eight Core Course Options:
    • EARTH 305 Earth's Surface and Sediments
    • EARTH 310 Geochemistry of the Solid Earth
    • EARTH 313 Geobiology
    • EARTH 314 Global and Applied Geophysics
    • EARTH 315 Earth Materials
    • EARTH 325 Environmental Geochemistry
    • EARTH 331 Climate and Climate Change
    • EARTH 351 Earth Structure

  2. Field Experience Requirement
    A fundamental aspect of studying the Earth sciences is exposure to hands-on approaches for data collection and problem solving. For this reason, the Earth and Environmental Sciences major requires students to complete a field-based course at Camp Davis, Wyoming, where students learn how to collect and interpret Earth and Environmental science data.

    Students must choose one course from EARTH 341 or 440. Students interested in completing EARTH 440 are strongly recommended to complete EARTH 305, 310, and 351 prior to taking EARTH 440. Students interested in a career in Oceanography may elect to take, with approval from a department advisor, a marine based field course.

  3. Geoscience Electives
    Nine EARTH credits at the 300 or higher level. Earth and Environmental Sciences majors are required to take these additional EARTH credits at the 300 or higher level to develop additional expertise in a specialization or area of their choosing. Students may wish to consider a specialization in an area listed in the core courses, or create their own specialization in consultation with a department advisor. 

    Remaining core courses listed above may be elected as well as other department course offerings. Students interested in graduate school and/or professional employment in the geosciences are encouraged to take as many 400-level courses as possible.

    A maximum of one credit of research or independent study (EARTH 299, 489, 490, 494, 498, 499) can be used for these electives.  

Sample specializations

Students who choose the Earth and Environmental Sciences major are encouraged to build a specialization that suits their own interests by taking additional upper-level courses in the  department. They may elect to use additional relevant courses from other departments as well. Students should build their specialization in close consultation with their department advisor. 

The following includes titles of a few example specializations that students may consider pursuing. Recommended courses associated with each of these specializations are available on the department website. These are only examples, and other specializations may be considered in consultation with a department advisor.

  • Geology
  • Environmental Geoscience
  • Energy and Mineral Resources
  • Geochemistry
  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Paleontology and Geobiology

Other recommendations

Students interested in graduate school or a career in geological and environmental sciences, or oceanography, are strongly encouraged to plan their curriculum in close consultation with a Earth and Environmental Sciences department advisor as soon as possible. Example curricula are given below.

Recommended courses for students interested in graduate study or professional employment in Geological Sciences include:

  • MATH 116 (Calculus II), MATH 214 or 216 (Differential equations).
  • CHEM 230 (Physical Chemistry) or CHEM 210 and 211 (Organic Chemistry)
  • PHYSICS 240 and 241 (Physics II and Lab)
  • EARTH 305, 310, 313, 315, 351, 418, 420, 422, 440
  • Completion of a senior or Honors thesis after at least two semesters of research with faculty in the department.

Recommended courses for students interested in graduate study or professional employment in Environmental Geology include:

  • MATH 116 (Calculus II), MATH 214 or 216 (Differential equations).
  • CHEM 230 (Physical Chemistry) or CHEM 210 and 211 (Organic Chemistry)
  • PHYSICS 240 and 241 (Physics II and Lab) or BIOLOGY 162, 171, or 172.
  • EARTH 305, 315, 325, 341, 380, 420, 442, 465, 477.
  • Completion of a senior or Honors thesis after at least two semesters of research with faculty in the department.

Recommended courses for students interested in graduate study or professional employment in Oceanography include:

  • MATH 116 (Calculus II), and one of MATH 214, 215, or 216 (Differential equations)
  • STATS 350
  • CHEM 230 (Physical Chemistry) or CHEM 210 and 211 (Organic Chemistry)
  • PHYSICS 240 and 241 (Physics II and Lab)
  • EARTH 222 and 223, 305, 310, 320, 321, 325 or 422, 409, 420, 449, 452
  • Completion of a senior or Honors thesis after at least two semesters of research with faculty in the department.

College of Literature, Science, and the Arts 500 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI  48109 © 2014 Regents of the University of Michigan