Earth Science Major

The Earth Science major program is a flexible course of instruction for students desiring a broad understanding of the earth and environmental processes. The program is interdisciplinary in nature and offers students an opportunity to select approved courses from several science departments, including Geosciences, Engineering, Biological Sciences, Geography, Chemistry, and Physics. Courses are selected in consultation with the earth science advisor to design programs that are tailored to the individuals’ needs and professional objectives. Elective courses must be approved by the advisor.

The Earth Science major is not recommended as a stand alone major. It should be undertaken by students who are taking a double major (e.g., Environmental Science, Law, Business, Engineering, etc.).

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 2019-20 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 geological and environmental classes here.
  • Professional development: Students in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences 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 Geological and Environmental Sciences .
  • 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 Science in earth science: The accelerated graduate degree program allows undergraduate students to begin accumulating credits toward the completion of a Master of Science in earth science degree while completing this bachelor's degree.
  • Graduate programs: The Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences offers three graduate degree programs (M.S. in earth sciences (non-thesis), M.S. in geosciences, Ph.D. in geosciences) and a graduate certificate program in 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 geological and environmental sciences major/minor is right for you? Curious about job opportunities for geochemistry majors? Contact Dr. Duane Hampton, our prospective undergraduate advisor and career advisor, 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 advisor, 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?

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