Earth Science Degree Requirements and Options
Earth science is an unusually broad subject. It addresses everything from the chemical processes that make rocks and minerals to the physics behind plate tectonics and the travel of earthquake shock waves through the planet. It explores the history of the evolution of life revealed in fossils, and it probes the earth processes that affect how humans can survive on the surface of the planet. To address this breadth, the department offers four curricular tracks for a major in Earth Sciences.
All tracks require a common core of general chemistry, calculus, general geology, and physics, except that paleontology-option students may take biology in place of physics. Every track includes an introductory geology sequence. See Introductory Sequences above. The courses in each track are divided into three categories: core, additional requirements, electives.
ARE YOU FASCINATED BY ROCKS AND THEIR FORMATION?
The Geology track provides students with a rigorous background that emphasizes traditional disciplines of petrology, structural geology, tectonics, stratigraphy, and field studies. Upper-division electives permit students to focus in a chosen subdiscipline or develop greater breadth, and include courses in geophysics, geochemistry, petrology, data analysis, physics, math, geomorphology, and neotectonics. Take a look at the Geology track requirements.
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN GEOLOGIC HAZARDS? DO YOU WANT TO STUDY HOW SOCIETY INTERACTS WITH EARTH'S SURFACE ENVIRONMENT?
Consider the Environmental Geoscience track. This track is for students who want to understand the earth’s surface environments – rivers, hillslopes, soils, ground water and oceans – and how humans interact with these environments. Track requirements include courses in energy resources, sedimentary environments, and geologic hazards. Electives are selected from all geology courses numbered 414 and higher, as well as courses in geography, chemistry, math, physics, and biology. Take a look at the Environnmental Geoscience track requirements.
ARE YOU INTRIGUED BY PHYSICS AND THE DEEP EARTH?
In the Geophysics track, students develop a foundation in mathematics and physics that enables them to apply quantitative methods to understanding processes such as earthquakes, mantle flow, plate movements, heat flow, and crustal deformation. Upper-division electives are selected from courses in structural geology, geodynamics, neotectonics, fault mechanics, remote sensing, geomorphology, and advanced math courses. Take a look at the Geophysics track requirements and find out more about Geophysics at UO.
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN STUDYING PAST LIFE? ARE YOU FASCINATED BY FOSSILS?
Consider the Paleontology track. In this track, students study the evolution of life as preserved in fossils extracted from ancient rocks. Students take courses in vertebrate and invertebrate paleontology, paleosols, stratigraphy, and field methods. Elective courses permit students to develop a complementary focus in biology or chemistry, and/or additional paleontology. Take a look at the Paleontology track requirements and find out more about paleontology at UO.
Students with majors in other departments who want a minor in Earth Sciences must begin with either of the introductory sequences: ERTH 201–203 or ERTH 101–103. Any combination of 101 or 201, 102 or 202, and 103 or 203 completes the Intro sequence. In addition, a minimum of 16 credits must be earned in other Earth Science courses numbered 213 and 300–499. Any such Earth Science courses listed in the UO Catalog may be used to meet this requirement, except that no more than 8 credits in ERTH 213, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308, or 310 may be applied to the minor. Undergraduate minors must take all required courses for letter grades and complete them with grades of C– or better.
Ready to declare Earth Sciences as a major or minor? Fill out this form.