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Why major in Earth and Planetary Sciences?

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Majoring in Earth and Planetary Sciences is an opportunity to focus on everything from the evolution of life to natural hazards, sustainable natural resources management,  understanding climate change, and planetary exploration. Our location near the Pacific coast, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and the San Andreas fault system provides a fantastic setting for field studies, and most courses include field trips. Our majors also take advantage of in-depth research with faculty. Recent projects have included collecting coral samples in Hawaii to analyzing GIS data. A major or minor in this field prepares you for careers in environmental engineering, land use planning, law, public service, teaching, graduate studies in Earth and environmental, and planetary sciences, and other professions in which an understanding of the Earth and a background in science are important.

Areas of study in the Earth and Planetary Sciences

  • Earth history and the evolution of life 
  • Oceans and the atmosphere
  • Processes that shape the Earth's landscapes
  • Chemistry and physics of Earth materials
  • Sources of water, economic minerals, metals, and fuels
  • Natural hazards like earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides
  • Contamination of natural waterways and possibilities for mitigation
  • Resource depletion and sustainable practices

Degree Requirements

Transfer Credit Policy: Transfer credit for university-level course work completed outside Stanford must be approved by the University Registrar. Once approved, transfer credit can count towards major requirements with Director of Undergraduate Studies approval.

Field Learning

Students from any major may participate in hands-on learning through a variety of programs across Stanford including SDSS field courses, Bing Overseas Seminars, 10-week Sophomore College courses, and our quarter-long Wrigley Program in Hawaii.

Learn more

For more information...

...about Earth and Planetary Sciences courses and degrees, contact Anjani Varma.