Major in Earth and Planetary Sciences

Yucatan Field WorkOur academic program covers traditional geologic studies through the latest advances in Earth and Planetary Science. Course content ranges from theoretical to more descriptive studies, computer modeling, laboratory methodology, and training for fieldwork. Courses are organized into recommended concentrations reflecting key disciplinary areas: general geoscience, geophysics, earth materials, geochemistry, earth history and paleobiology, climate science, and planetary science. Each concentration has a common set of prerequisite courses and core courses, and electives are grouped according to specialization. The broadest concentration, general geoscience, offers the most breadth and is therefore recommended for students not yet familiar with specific subfields. Concentrations do not constitute rigid programs of study - students may alter the course content of their major as their interests develop or design their own programs in consultation with a department adviser and with approval from the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Examples of concentrations include the following:

  • General geoscience: EARTH 300, 310, 320, 330, 340
  • Geophysics: Four courses from EARTH 320, 321, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 351
  • Earth materials: EARTH 300, 301, 302, and 2 courses from EARTH 310, 312, 313, 320, 323, 326
  • Geochemistry: EARTH 310, 312, 313, 314, 317
  • Earth history and paleobiology: EARTH 320, 330, 331, 340, 351
  • Climate science: EARTH 316, 326, 340, 341, 351
  • Planetary science: EARTH 300, 316, 324, 351, ASTRON 220

Major requirements

Department courses (8 or 9 units, depending on concentration)

  • Three 200-level EARTH courses: 201, 202, 203
  • Four or five 300-level EARTH courses, depending on concentration
  • 1 of the following: One additional 300-level course, independent study (399), or preapproved field course outside Northwestern.

Related courses (units depend on chemistry and mathematics sequences taken and concentration chosen)

  • CHEM 101, 102, and 103 with lab courses 121, 122, and 123, or 171 and 172 with lab courses 181 and 182.
  • MATH 220, 224, and 230 (the sequence 212, 213, and 214 can substitute for 220 and 224). For the geophysics concentration, MATH 234, 240, and 250 are also required.
  • PHYSICS 135-1,2,3, with lab courses 136-1,2,3.

2 additional courses at the 200 level or higher in math, science, or social science (1 of which may be 326) in all concentrations, except geophysics.

Earth and Planetary Sciences Second Major for ISP Students

The Integrated Science Program (ISP) is a highly selective BA program within Weinberg College. Students majoring in ISP who wish also to complete a major in Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) must take EARTH 201 and three 300-level courses in addition to EARTH 350. These requirements replace the usual major requirements noted above.

See our advising page for more information about declaring a major in Earth and Planetary Sciences.


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