Earth Sciences Major (B.S.)

Earth Sciences Major (B.S.)
Earth Sciences Students working out in the environment

What is a Bachelor of Science in earth sciences?

The UNH earth Sciences B.S. program is well suited for students who desire a broad foundation in mathematics and the physical sciences, immersion in intermediate coursework to develop and apply field and analytical skills, and a focus on upper-level coursework specialized in climate, geology, geophysics or oceanography. The Bachelor of Science degree prepares students to enter into geoscience careers in nonprofits, academia, the public sector or industry.

Why study Earth sciences at UNH?

The location of UNH, on the Great Bay Estuary and close to the White Mountains, provides an ideal backdrop for hands-on learning opportunities for all Earth Sciences students. Students have multiple options to immerse themselves in research experiences in the field and in state-of-the-art laboratory settings, and funds are available by competitive application for support of such opportunities. Employment for geoscientists is projected to grow 14 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than many occupations and reflecting increasing needs for energy, environmental protection and responsible land/water/resource management. Graduates may also use their geosciences degree to complement policy, business or legal careers.

Potential careers

  • Climate scientist
  • Energy sector specialist
  • Environmental consultant
  • Environmental toxicologist
  • Geochemist
  • Geologist
  • Geophysicist
  • Geospatial scientist
  • Hydrographer
  • Oceanographer
  • Paleontologist
  • Petroleum geologist
  • Physical scientist
  • Science journalist
  • Secondary school teacher
Contact

Earth Sciences Undergraduate Coordinator
PROFESSOR
Phone: (603) 862-3139
Office: Earth Sciences, James Hall Rm 308, Durham, NH 03824
  • Earth_Sciences major student Katherine_Weick
    Meet a Wildcat in Earth Sciences
    Watch Katherine Weick discuss her favorite things about attending the University of New Hampshire and advice for those who are considering UNH.
    Learn More
  • Earth_Science_Sierra_Kehoe
    Meet a Wildcat in Earth Sciences (Oceanography)
    Watch Sierra Kehoe discuss her favorite things about attending the University of New Hampshire and advice for those who are considering UNH.
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Curriculum & Requirements

The Bachelor of Science degree in the Department of Earth Sciences has four tracks designed for students interested in focusing on Earth's climate, geology, geophysics or oceanography.  The program provides a strong concentration in geoscience, built upon a solid foundation in mathematics and the physical sciences.  The B.S. degree is especially well-suited for students who wish to work in the environmental and geoscience industries, energy sector and climate technologies, teaching at the secondary level, state and federal environmental agencies, or to pursue graduate studies in the Earth sciences, oceanography, and related fields of study. The degree requires a central core of courses and a required specialization in one of climate, geology, geophysics, or oceanography to develop depth in a particular area of the Earth sciences. Students are encouraged to participate in research, field, lab, or internship opportunities to round out their experiences in the degree program.

Climate Specialization

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
FallCredits
ESCI 400 Freshman Field Seminar 1
ESCI 401 Dynamic Earth 4
MATH 425 Calculus I 4
CHEM 403 General Chemistry I 4
ENGL 401 First-Year Writing 4
 Credits17
Spring
ESCI 402 Earth History 4
MATH 426 Calculus II 4
CHEM 404 General Chemistry II 4
Inquiry Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Second Year
Fall
ESCI 501 Introduction to Oceanography 4
ESCI 530
or ESCI 534
Geological Field Methods
or Techniques in Environmental Sciences
4
PHYS 407 General Physics I 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Spring
ESCI 512 Principles of Mineralogy 4
ESCI 514 Introduction to Climate 3
PHYS 408 General Physics II 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits15
Third Year
Fall
ESCI 561 Landscape Evolution 4
ESCI 758
or ESCI 760
Introductory Physical Oceanography (or 6/7__)
or Paleoceanography
3
ESCI ___ or Free Elective 4
Discovery Course 1 4
Seminar or Research Experience 1
 Credits16
Spring
ESCI 654
or ESCI 701
Fate and Transport in the Environment
or Quantitative Methods in Earth Sciences
4
ESCI #762
or ESCI 765
Glacial Geology (or 6/7__)
or Paleoclimatology
4
Science Elective 2 4
Discovery course 4
 Credits16
Fourth Year
Fall
ESCI 6/7__ 4
ESCI 758
or ESCI 760
Introductory Physical Oceanography (or 6/7__)
or Paleoceanography
3
Science Elective 2 4
Discovery Course 1 4
Seminar or Research Experience 1
 Credits16
Spring
ESCI #762
or ESCI 765
Glacial Geology (or 6/7__)
or Paleoclimatology
4
Science Elective 2 4
Discovery Course 1 4
Senior Capstone 4
 Credits16
 Total Credits128

Geology Specialization

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
FallCredits
ESCI 400 Freshman Field Seminar 1
ESCI 401 Dynamic Earth 4
MATH 425 Calculus I 4
CHEM 403 General Chemistry I 4
ENGL 401 First-Year Writing (or pass placement test) 4
 Credits17
Spring
ESCI 402 Earth History 4
MATH 426 Calculus II 4
CHEM 404 General Chemistry II 4
Inquiry Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Second Year
Fall
ESCI 530 Geological Field Methods 4
ESCI 561 Landscape Evolution 4
PHYS 407 General Physics I 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Spring
ESCI 501 Introduction to Oceanography 4
ESCI 512 Principles of Mineralogy 4
PHYS 408 General Physics II 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Third Year
Fall
ESCI 614 Introduction to Petrology 4
ESCI 631 Structural Geology 4
BIOL 412 Introductory Biology: Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecology 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Spring
ESCI 654
or ESCI 701
Fate and Transport in the Environment (or 6__)
or Quantitative Methods in Earth Sciences
4
Free Elective 4
Science Elective 2 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Fourth Year
Fall
ESCI 7__ 4
Free Elective 4
Science Elective 2 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Spring
ESCI 7__ 4
Science Elective 2 4
Discovery Course 1 4
Senior Capstone 4
 Credits16
 Total Credits129

Geophysics Specialization

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
FallCredits
ESCI 400 Freshman Field Seminar 1
ESCI 401 Dynamic Earth 4
MATH 425 Calculus I 4
CHEM 403 General Chemistry I 4
ENGL 401 First-Year Writing (or pass placement test) 4
 Credits17
Spring
ESCI 402 Earth History 4
MATH 426 Calculus II 4
CHEM 404 General Chemistry II 4
Inquiry Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Second Year
Fall
ESCI 530 Geological Field Methods 4
ESCI 561 Landscape Evolution (or 6/7__) 4
PHYS 407 General Physics I 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Spring
ESCI 501 Introduction to Oceanography 4
ESCI 512 Principles of Mineralogy 4
PHYS 408 General Physics II 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Third Year
Fall
ESCI 614 Introduction to Petrology (or 6/7__) 4
ESCI 631 Structural Geology 4
MATH 527 Differential Equations with Linear Algebra 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Spring
ESCI 701 Quantitative Methods in Earth Sciences 4
MATH 528 Multidimensional Calculus 4
Science Elective 2 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Fourth Year
Fall
ESCI 759 Geological Oceanography 4
Free Elective 4
Science Elective 2 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Spring
ESCI 734 Global Geophysics (or ESCI 756) 4
Science Elective 2 4
Discovery Course 1 4
Senior Captstone 4
 Credits16
 Total Credits129

Oceanography Specialization

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
FallCredits
ESCI 400 Freshman Field Seminar 1
ESCI 401 Dynamic Earth 4
MATH 425 Calculus I 4
CHEM 403 General Chemistry I 4
ENGL 401 First-Year Writing (or pass placement test) 4
 Credits17
Spring
ESCI 402 Earth History 4
MATH 426 Calculus II 4
CHEM 404 General Chemistry II 4
Inquiry Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Second Year
Fall
ESCI 501 Introduction to Oceanography 4
ESCI 530
or ESCI 534
Geological Field Methods
or Techniques in Environmental Sciences
4
PHYS 407 General Physics I 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Spring
ESCI 512 Principles of Mineralogy 4
ESCI 514 Introduction to Climate 3
PHYS 408 General Physics II 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits15
Third Year
Fall
ESCI 758 Introductory Physical Oceanography (or 6/7__) 3
ESCI 6/7__ or Free Elective 4
Science Elective 2 4
Discovery Course 1 4
Seminar or Research Experience 1
 Credits16
Spring
ESCI 654
or ESCI 710
Fate and Transport in the Environment (or 6/7__)
or Groundwater Hydrology
4
ESCI 6/7__ or Free Elective 4
MEFB 755 Biological Oceanography 4
Discovery Course 4
 Credits16
Fourth Year
Fall
ESCI 6/7__ 4
ESCI 759 Geological Oceanography (or 6/7__) 4
Science Elective 2 4
Discovery Course 1 4
 Credits16
Spring
ESCI 752 Chemical Oceanography (or 6/7__) 3
Science Elective 2 4
Discovery Course 1 4
Senior Capstone 4
Seminar or Research Experience 1.0
 Credits16
 Total Credits128
1

One course must be taken in each of the remaining Disciplinary Groups of the University Discovery Program (Biological Sciences; Environment Technology & Society; Historical Perspectives; World Culture; Fine & Performing Arts; Social Science; Humanities).

2

Three science electives must be approved in consultation with departmental advisor.

Degree Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement: 128 credits
Minimum Residency Requirement: 32 credits must be taken at UNH
Minimum GPA: 2.0 required for conferral*
Core Curriculum Required: Discovery & Writing Program Requirements
Foreign Language Requirement: No

All Major, Option and Elective Requirements as indicated.
*Major GPA requirements as indicated.

Major Requirements

Required Courses
MATH 425Calculus I 14
MATH 426Calculus II4
CHEM 403General Chemistry I 1,24
CHEM 404General Chemistry II 1,24
PHYS 407General Physics I 14
PHYS 408General Physics II 14
Core Curriculum
ESCI 401Dynamic Earth4
or ESCI 409 Geology and the Environment
ESCI 402Earth History4
ESCI 501Introduction to Oceanography4
ESCI 512Principles of Mineralogy4
ESCI 530Geological Field Methods 34
or ESCI 534 Techniques in Environmental Sciences
Select one of the following:4
ESCI 654
Fate and Transport in the Environment
ESCI 701
Quantitative Methods in Earth Sciences 4
Specializations
Select one of the following approved specializations:
Climate
Geology
Geophysics
Oceanography
Science/Math Electives
Complete three additional approved science/math electives 5
Capstone
Complete the capstone requirement
Total Credits48
1

Some of these courses may also satisfy Discovery Program requirements. 

2

Or CHEM 405 Chemical Principles for Engineers if applicable

3

ESCI 530 Geological Field Methods is required for the geology and geophysics  specializations

4

Geophysics track must select ESCI 701 Quantitative Methods in Earth Sciences

5

The following should be considered: additional 700-level Earth sciences courses; additional chemistry, mathematics, and physics courses; courses in computer science, engineering, and the biological sciences; and an off-campus field camp.

Specialization Requirements

Climate Specialization
ESCI 514Introduction to Climate3
ESCI 561Landscape Evolution4
Select at least two of the following:6-7
ESCI 758
Introductory Physical Oceanography
ESCI 760
Paleoceanography
ESCI #762
Glacial Geology
ESCI 765
Paleoclimatology
Select three advanced-level approved electives9-12
Total Credits22-26
Geology Specialization
ESCI 561Landscape Evolution4
ESCI 614Introduction to Petrology4
ESCI 631Structural Geology4
BIOL 412Introductory Biology: Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecology4
Three approved electives, two of which are at the 700 level6-8
Total Credits22-24
Geophysics Specialization
MATH 527Differential Equations with Linear Algebra4
MATH 528Multidimensional Calculus4
ESCI 561Landscape Evolution4
or ESCI 614 Introduction to Petrology
ESCI 631Structural Geology4
Select at least two of the following:8
ESCI 734
Global Geophysics
ESCI 756
Geotectonics
ESCI 759
Geological Oceanography
One approved 700-level elective3-4
Total Credits27-28
Oceanography Specialization
BIOL 411Introductory Biology: Molecular and Cellular4
ESCI 514Introduction to Climate3
Select at least three of the following:10-11
ESCI 752
Chemical Oceanography
ESCI 758
Introductory Physical Oceanography
ESCI 759
Geological Oceanography
MEFB 755
Biological Oceanography
Complete three advanced-level approved electives9-12
Total Credits26-30

Capstone Experience

A capstone experience is required of all undergraduate Earth sciences majors during their senior year. All capstone experiences at UNH must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  1. The capstone synthesizes and applies disciplinary knowledge and skills.
  2. The capstone fosters reflection on undergraduate learning and experience.
  3. The capstone demonstrates emerging professional competencies.
  4. The capstone applies, analyzes, and/or interprets research or data or artistic expression.
  5. The capstone explores areas of interest based on the integration of prior learning.

Suggested ways of meeting the capstone requirement in the Department of Earth Sciences include approved INCO 790 Advanced Research Experience, ESCI 795 Topics/ESCI 796 Topics, ESCI 799 Senior Thesis, URA/SURF/IROP projects, internships, environmental/geologic field camps, REU programs, or Earth Sciences education and outreach activities designed according to the above criteria. Capstone experiences must be equivalent to a minimum of 2 academic credits. Students should work closely with their faculty advisors to define the most appropriate capstone experience for their Earth Sciences degree program, although the capstone mentor can be someone other than their primary faculty advisor. All capstone experiences must be approved and certified by the faculty advisor and the capstone mentor. Presentation of projects or experiences developed for the capstone is encouraged at the annual UNH Undergraduate Research Conference or other appropriate venue.

Students will be able to:

  • Recognize common Earth materials and structures.
  • Describe how Earth scientists construct the geological time scale and apply geochronologic dating techniques.
  • Describe the broad attributes of and interactions within the Earth System, as well as its geological history, how and why it is changing today, and how those changes impact society.
  • Understanding Earth processes and cycles.
  • Perform simple calculations to process and evaluate quantitative Earth science data..
  • Collect, interpret, and synthesize basic field observations and measurements to develop and test multiple working hypotheses to explain them.
  • Become proficient in basic geological and Earth science laboratory skills.
  • Successfully apply basic calculus and chemistry to Earth science problems.
  • Summarize, analyze, and evaluate student-generated scientific data and the primary Earth sciences literature.
  • Effectively communicate results of scientific inquiries orally, visually, and in writing.

Explore Program Details

A key requirement of the Discovery Program is the completion of one senior capstone experience, to be supervised and approved within the major.

Earth Sciences Capstone

Forms

Departmental Petition for Program Variance - Petition for major requirement

Registrar Forms - including Petition for Variance in Academic Policy (Petition for University and/or Discovery requirement)

Those interested in the Earth Sciences (B.S.) major may also be interested in the following advanced degrees. Students in the program also have the opportunity to participate in the UNH accelerated master’s program.

Earth & Environmental Science Ph.D.

Earth Sciences M.S.

Earth Sciences: Geochemical Systems M.S.

Earth Sciences: Geology M.S.

Earth Sciences: Ocean Mapping M.S.

Hydrology M.S.

Oceanography M.S.

Oceanography Ph.D.

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