Earth Science Major

This flexible degree is for students wanting to gain geoscience expertise outside of core geology. As an earth science major, you will begin with the fundamentals of earth science coupled with some basic mathematics, chemistry and physics. After completing the fundamentals, an earth science major may focus on the earth-human issues, such as geological hazards, climate change and even the geology of national parks. Alternatively, the earth science major may be enhancing another science major with specific earth science knowledge, such as geochemistry, geophysics or remote sensing. Most earth science majors are interested in environmental conservation, parks and planning, science journalism, policy, economics, engineering; communications and business students often consider this for a second major.

You should major in earth science if...

  • You are fascinated by the Earth and how it works, as well as science in general.
  • You wish to improve the environment and resources for future generations.
  • You wish to enhance your current major with a deepened understanding of Earth.
  •  You wish to understand the importance of natural resources for mankind.
  • You are interested in the origins of our parks and what is required to maintain them.
  • You are concerned with global climate change and wish to better understand it.

Program overview

The earth science major will train you in the broad spectrum of the geosciences with some foundational mathematics, physics and chemistry. It is recommended that students who choose this major use it as a second major. After completing the required foundation courses, you will choose electives to suit your specific areas of interest. For example, depending on your background, you will have the opportunity to study various areas from the geology of national parks to geochemistry.

  • Program requirements: To learn more about specific program requirements, consult the 2016-17 undergraduate catalog.
  • Course listings: To see which courses will be offered when, check out the WMU course listings. You can also read course descriptions for geosciences classes here.
  • Professional development: Students in the Department of Geosciences are encouraged to gain valuable professional, research and field experience through joining our highly active student organizations: Geology Club, Student Chapter of American Institute for Professional Geologists, Student Chapter of American Associate of Petroleum Geologists and the Student Chapter of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.


Employment options for holders of a bachelor of science in earth sciences depend very much on the classes that the graduate has chosen to take. However, recent graduates have found entry-level positions in the national parks. Employment in the petroleum industry occurred during boom years. For more career information, contact faculty advisor, Dr. Duane Hampton (listed below) and visit the Career Guidance and Alumni Spotlight pages.

Our students

  • Meet our students:Watch video interviews featuring undergraduate and graduate students from a wide variety of personal and educational backgrounds discussing their experiences in the Department of Geosciences.
  • Recent student achievements:Read about the accomplishments of our current students.
  • Alumni spotlight:Read about where our students find careers after graduating.

Associated Faculty

  • Faculty directory: Learn about our faculty members' professional and academic backgrounds, their teaching and research interests and publishing history.
  • Faculty and staff research specialties: Learn about each faculty and staff members' unique research interests (links to laboratories are also provided here).

Graduate study options

  • Accelerated Master of Arts in earth science: The accelerated graduate degree program allows undergraduate students to begin accumulating credits toward the completion of a Master of Arts in earth science degree while completing this bachelor's degree.
  • Graduate programs: The Department of Geosciences offers three graduate degree programs (MA, MS, PhD) and a graduate certificate program in applied hydrogeology.  


The College of Arts and Sciences has a two-tiered advising system for undergraduates. Please consult your departmental and college advisors regularly to ensure that academic requirements are met.

  • Major and minor advising: Unsure which geosciences major/minor is right for you? Curious about job opportunities for geochemistry majors? Contact Dr. Duane Hampton, our prospective undergraduate adviser and career adviser, to set up an appointment. Confused about which classes to take, how to enroll in classes or want to know your progress towards graduation? All of these questions can be discussed with your undergraduate faculty adviser, Dr. Michelle Kominz.
  • College of Arts and Sciences advising: Have a question about general education or graduate requirements? Take advantage of CAS undergraduate advising drop-in hours or make an appointment.


What's Next?

Apply Schedule a visitMeet with adviserContact us