Earth and Environmental Scientists study the behavior and evolution of our planet, from the dawn of the solar system and the formation of the continents to the modern environments that sustain human civilization.
If you've asked yourself these questions, then our programs are for you!
- Is my water safe to drink?
- What is this rock?
- Is there life on other planets?
- Interested in core sciences (chemistry, physics, math)? Check these options.
- What can I do and how much can I make after I graduate with one of these degrees?
We will help you find the answers!
Our programs emphasize applications of physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and data science to understanding Earth and humans’ role within it. We offer four major programs, and two minor programs:
- BS and BA in Earth Sciences
- BS and BA in Environmental Geosciences
- Minor in Geology
- Minor in Environmental Geosciences
Studying the Earth is a quite a broad concept, as a result, there are many subdisciplines within the Earth and environmental sciences. To learn more about these subdisciplines, please visit What is Earth Science? and/or our Discover Our Research page.
Earth Sciences covers the broad composition and structure of Earth, from the core and deep interior to the oceans and climate system. Earth Scientists study how physical, chemical, and biological processes created and shaped the planet over billions of years, and how Earth continues to evolve today. This includes plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, water, ice ages, the uplift and erosion of mountains, gravity and magnetic fields of the Earth, paleontology, and even the evolution of other planetary bodies in our solar system. Deep time is an essential concept in Earth Sciences.
Environmental Geosciences focuses on the critical zone at Earth’s surface where people interact with our planet, including soils, groundwater, rivers, glaciers, mineral and energy resources, and natural hazards. The Environmental Geosciences program enables students to understand the natural systems at work on Earth’s surface so that we may better forecast the environmental consequences of our collective actions and build more sustainable communities.
A BA degree allows a student to develop a fundamentally broader perspective on the world, whereas a BS degree allows a student to specialize more deeply in a particular discipline. Students pursuing a BA degree are required to meet a foreign language requirement and take a greater number of courses from outside our department. Students earning BS degrees do not have either of these requirements, but are required to take more advanced math courses and a greater number of elective courses within our department. Otherwise, BS and BA students share the same classes and assignments.
There are very few real job implications for a BA or BS degree. Both degrees are equally competitive if a student decides to apply to graduate school for a Masters or PhD at a later date. Similarly, the vast majority of employers do not differentiate between applicants who have a BA or a BS. Instead, they are more concerned with the specific coursework that a student completed during their university career. Two exceptions include the petroleum geophysics and mineral exploration geophysics communities, which tend to prefer BS degrees.
All ESCI BS degree programs are managed through the College of Science & Engineering, while all ESCI BA programs are managed through the College of Liberal Arts. Students deciding between these programs should weigh whether they are interested in pursuing a degree with more breadth in the liberal arts or more specialization in the sciences during their time as an undergraduate.
Outside the Classroom
Education outside the classroom provides valuable hands-on experiences that allow students to put what they learn into context and toward real-world issues.
- Field experiences, whether as part of coursework, research, or trips for fun, give students the opportunity to see first-hand what they learn in the classroom.
- Research opportunities can include study in the field, laboratory, or computer programming.
- Internship programs in academia and in industry.
Please explore "Outside the Classroom" experiences.
Our department has a vibrant social network. The undergraduate GeoClub (officially University of Minnesota Geological Society) is very involved in outreach, departmental committees, social activities, and fund raising for field trips and scholarship.
The department itself holds many social functions that allow for interaction with everyone in the department, from interns to emeritus professors. These activities are both academic (weekly seminars) and for fun (departmental picnics). All are welcome!