BA in Earth Sciences
Earth science is the study of our planet, its atmosphere, its oceans, and its neighbors in space. Our Earth is undergoing unprecedented change. If you want to use your science skills find solutions to its problems, an Earth sciences major may be perfect for you.
Some of the ways Earth scientists use their expertise include:
- understanding how the Earth can provide food, water, and energy for our growing population
- locating and developing energy and mineral resources
- studying how humans impact the Earth's environment and designing ways to protect it
- helping plan communities that protect people from events such as hurricanes, landslides, earthquakes, and volcanoes
Fossils, volcanoes, tectonics, water flows, lakes, minerals, and rocks are all part of Earth sciences. Evolved from the field of geology, earth sciences studies our planet from its origin to today. You will use tools from physics, chemistry, biology, chronology, and mathematics to understand how the Earth system works, how it evolved to its current state, and how it is always changing.
The BA in Earth Sciences
The College of Liberal Arts offers a bachelor of arts (BA) in Earth Sciences; it’s administered through the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences in the College of Science and Engineering, which also offers a bachelor of science (BS) in Earth Sciences. This may be confusing, so here we explain the similarities and differences between the two options.
- The BA and BS are equally challenging. The major courses are the same for both degrees and students from both take their classes together. The pre-requisite courses to enter the major are the same.
- Admissions to the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science & Engineering are different; you might get into one college but not the other.
- The structure of the degrees are slightly different. The BA has more flexibility if you want to pursue multiple interests, allowing space in your degree plan for breadth and depth; the BS degree program offers opportunities to take additional earth science and technical courses.
- The BA degree requires proficiency in a second language.
The Liberal Arts Advantage
Students who choose the BA degree have the option to add relevant minors to their major and their electives will help them develop skills that employers look for, above and beyond technical skills developed in the major courses. These core career competencies include:
- Analytical & Critical Thinking
- Applied Problem Solving
- Ethical Reasoning & Decision Making
- Innovation & Creativity
- Oral & Written Communication
- Teamwork & Leadership
- Engaging Diversity
- Active Citizenship & Community Engagement
- Digital Literacy
- Career Management
Consider your own interests and career goals and consult with an advisor when deciding whether to apply to the College of Liberal Arts (for the BA) or College of Science & Engineering (for the BS). Both degrees will prepare you well for your future.
All liberal arts degrees help CLA students develop their Core Career Competencies, and earth sciences majors develop specific skills that are applicable to lots of different careers. These skills include strong research skills and attention to detail, ability to work independently and collaboratively, ability to gather, assess and interpret data, and an understanding of the composition of the earth and the processes that operate on it.
Students who take the SuperStrong Interest Inventory receive a three-letter interest code, which identifies their top three areas of interest, work activities, potential skills, and personal values. The interest code "IRS" is often associated with this major, however, the SuperStrong assessment can help you understand how your interests connect to a variety of majors and career options. You can learn more about common employer types and occupations associated with this major. You can also see CLA specific examples of alumni careers below.
Internship & Job Search Websites
- Geology job links
- Earthworks jobs
- USA Jobs
- HECUA internship program
- Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
- Idealist (Nonprofit positions in the US and internationally)
- Public Service Careers (Check out “Why Public Service?”)
Alumni Career Examples
Below is a small sampling of what alumni with this major have pursued, organized by the most common career fields they go into (although keep in mind that there are alumni in all eight of the career fields). You can also utilize the LinkedIn's Alumni Tool and the Maroon and Gold Network to further explore alumni career pathways and connect directly with professionals.
Note: *Asterisks denote that further education and/or training is often required
Engineering Intern, Cirrus Aircraft
Research Assistant, Structure, Tectonics, and Metamorphic Petrology Lab
Intern, The Sigma Group
Hydrologic Technician, U.S. Geological Survey
Hydrogeology Intern, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Research Intern, NASA Planetary Biology Internship Program
Geologist, Basin Geologic Consulting, Inc.
Engineering Technician, Northern Technologies, Inc.
Mineral Exploration Geologist, Pathfinder Mineral Services
Clastic Reservoir Geologist, Badley Ashton
Geophysicist, Amec Foster Wheeler*
Assistant Scientist, Science Museum of Minnesota*
Research Reservoir Engineer*
Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey*
MS Geological Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin
MS Water Resources Science, University of Minnesota
MS Geosciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
MS Geological and Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota
PhD Geological and Earth Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin