Earth Sciences Major B.S.

Earth Sciences Major B.S.

landscape with mountains

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, oceanography or petroleum geology. 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




Geospatial scientist




Petroleum geologist

Physical scientist

Science journalist

Secondary school teacher


Department of Earth Sciences
56 College Road
214 James Hall
Durham, NH 03824

P: (603) 862-1718

Curriculum & Requirements

The bachelor of science in Earth sciences is offered through the Department of Earth Sciences. The program represents a strong concentration in the Earth sciences and is especially well-suited for students who plan to continue their studies in graduate school. Beyond a central core of courses, there are several possible specializations (climate, geology, geophysics, oceanography, petroleum geology) from which students must chose in order to develop depth in a particular area of Earth sciences. Students are encouraged to attend a summer off-campus field experience, for which scholarship funds may be available.

Satisfy the Discovery Program requirements and the bachelor of science degree requirements
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
Fate and Transport in the Environment
Quantitative Methods in Earth Sciences 4
Select one of the following approved specializations:
Petroleum Geology
Science/Math Electives
Complete three additional approved science/math electives (required for all approved specialization except Petroleum Geology) 5
Complete the capstone requirement
Total Credits48



ESCI 514Introduction to Climate3
ESCI 561Landscape Evolution4
Select at least two of the following:6-7
Introductory Physical Oceanography
Glacial Geology
Select three advanced-level approved electives9-12
Total Credits22-26


ESCI 561Landscape Evolution4
ESCI 614Introduction to Petrology4
ESCI 631Structural Geology4
ESCI 652Paleontology4
Two approved 700-level electives6-8
Total Credits22-24


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
Earthquakes and Faulting
Geological Oceanography
One approved 700-level elective3-4
Total Credits27-28


BIOL 411Introductory Biology: Molecular and Cellular4
ESCI 514Introduction to Climate3
Select at least three of the following:10-11
Biological Oceanography
Chemical Oceanography
Introductory Physical Oceanography
Geological Oceanography
Complete three advanced-level approved electives9-12
Total Credits26-30

Petroleum Geology

ESCI 614Introduction to Petrology4
ESCI 631Structural Geology4
ESCI 652Paleontology4
ESCI 734Geophysics4
ESCI 741Geochemistry4
ESCI 754Sedimentology4
ESCI 756Geotectonics3
ESCI 759Geological Oceanography4
ESCI 796Topics (Petroleum Geology)4
CHE 705Fossil Fuels and Renewable Energy Sources4
Total Credits39

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.

Examples of Department of Earth Sciences capstone experiences include Senior Thesis (ESCI 799 Senior Thesis), UROP/SURF projects, environmental or geologic field camps, or Earth sciences education and outreach activities. Additional experiences may qualify (e.g., ESCI 795 Topics/ESCI 796 Topics field courses, INCO 590 Student Research Experience, INCO 790 Advanced Research Experience, internships) if they are designed according to the above criteria. Students should work closely with their advisers to define the most appropriate capstone experience for the Earth sciences degree option and all capstone experiences must be approved by the Department of Earth Sciences undergraduate coordinator. Presentation of projects or experiences developed for the capstone is encouraged at the annual UNH Undergraduate Research Conference or other appropriate venue.

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


Departmental Petition for Program Variance - Petition for major requirement

Petition for Variance in Academic Policy - Petition for University and/or Discovery requirement

Transfer Credit Prior Approval Request - transfer credits from another institution

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