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:

CLA's Core Career Competencies
  • 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.