Majors in Earth sciences can study subjects such as mineralogy, climatology, hydrology, paleontology, agriculture, conservation, and preservation. This means that a degree in Earth sciences can lead you down a wide range of professional paths in science, environmentalism, education, and much more.
The Earth sciences major is the study of the Earth, its atmosphere, the materials and substances that compose them, and the processes that produce weather patterns, climate shifts, geological events, and more. The Earth sciences field is composed of four primary sub-disciplines–geology, meteorology, oceanography, and astronomy.
If you’re ready to earn your degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Earth Sciences.
Or read on to find out what you can expect as an Earth sciences major.
Scientific careers tend to involve specialized, challenging, and well-paying jobs, and Earth sciences is no different. Whether as an environmental scientist, geologist, or atmospheric scientist, landing a job in a branch of Earth sciences can lead to a big paycheck.
Earth science involves the study of the Earth, the substances that compose it, and the processes that define it. In studying Earth science, you develop a deeper understanding of the world we live in from the clouds over our heads to the dirt underneath our feet.
Earth science gives you the opportunity to contribute to advances in sustainability, alternative energies, environmental conservation, agriculture, food production, and more. Your degree in Earth sciences could put you in a position to produce findings, technology and innovations that could solve some of the world’s greatest challenges from global hunger to climate change.
Whether studying minerals, crystals, and magma deep within the Earth, or measuring patterns of atmospheric change, Earth science majors lead interesting careers full of discovery, investigation, and problem-solving opportunities.
Earth science majors help to guide our understanding of important issues such as global climate change, the health of our oceans and the need for improved sustainability in our collective lifestyle practices. Today, top influencers in Earth sciences are bringing new light to volcanology, climate change, sustainability, and much more.
Find out who the Most Influential People are in Earth Sciences today!Back to Top
Earth sciences degrees come in an extremely wide variety. Available as everything from an associate degree to a PhD, Earth sciences degrees can be earned as a general course of study, but are more likely offered as specialized programs in areas such as geology, atmospheric science, meteorology, climatology, environmental science, hydrology, or oceanography. Note that most Earth science jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree for entry.
*Note: Many, but not all, degree programs offer the choice between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Likewise, many, but not all, advanced degree programs offer a choice between Master of Arts, and Master of Science degrees. In most cases, the primary difference is the diversity of course offerings. “Science” degree courses will focus almost entirely on the major discipline, with a deep dive into a specific concentration, including laboratory, clinical or practicum experience. An “Arts” degree will provide a more well-rounded curriculum which includes both core/concentration courses and a selection of humanities and electives. The type of degree you choose will depend both on your school’s offerings and your career/educational goals. Moreover, there are sometimes numerous variations in the way that colleges name and categorize majors. The degree types identified here above are some of the common naming variations, but may not be all-encompassing.
Thinking of a graduate degree in earth science? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Earth Science? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.Back to Top
Your “concentration” refers to a specific area of focus within your major. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides a complete listing of college degree programs and concentrations (Classification for Instructional Programs), as sourced from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). According to IPEDS, the following are among the most popular Earth sciences concentrations:
Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as an Earth sciences major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as Earth materials and hydrology. However, you will also have the freedom to select an array of courses that most interest you. As an Earth sciences major, you’ll have the chance to craft a well-rounded educational experience that ultimately furthers your professional goals.
Common Earth sciences courses include:
With such a wide range of specialization options, Earth science majors have an equally wide selection of career paths. Keep in mind, your major specialization largely determines your professional specialization, so if you want to work as a geologist, we wouldn’t recommend specializing in agricultural science (unless you plan to work at the intersection of the two subdisciplines). Your Earth sciences major can lead to a wide range of career opportunities, including these top jobs:
Thinking of a graduate degree in earth science? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Earth Science? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.
Curious how far you could go with a major in Earth sciences? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!***
Now that you know how to major in Earth sciences, check out The Most Influential Schools in Earth Sciences and get started on your path to an Earth sciences degree.