Earth and Environmental Science, BA

The Earth and Environmental Science major provides graduates with a broad understanding of the physical, chemical and biological processes that operate in and on the planet and how direct and indirect methods are used to examine, quantify and understand the structure, composition, and dynamics of the Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and lithosphere. Graduates appreciate how humans and ecosystems interact with the dynamic Earth, and how human activities such as non-sustainable resource extraction have generated climate change, exacerbated natural hazards, and disrupted hydrologic and biogeochemical cycles.

The minimum total course units for graduation in this major is 35. Double majors may entail more course units.

For information about the General Education requirements, please visit the College of Arts & Sciences Curriculum page.


College General Education Requirements and Free Electives
Foundational Approaches + Sectors + Arts & Sciences CU + Electives20
Major Requirements
Gateway Course
EESC 1000Earth Systems Science1
Math and Quantitative Analysis1
Quantitative Analysis of Anthropological Data
Statistics for Biologists
Calculus, Part I
Calculus, Part II
Calculus, Part II with Probability and Matrices
Calculus, Part III
Calculus, Part IV
Foundations of Data Science
Introductory Statistics
Physics, Chemistry, or Biology Take one course in two out of the three disciplines3
Introduction to Biology A
Introduction to Biology B
Introduction to Biology - The Molecular Biology of Life
and Introductory Molecular Biology Laboratory
Introduction to General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry Laboratory I
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry Laboratory I
Introduction to General Chemistry II
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
General Chemistry II
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
General Physics: Mechanics, Heat and Sound
General Physics: Electromagnetism, Optics, and Modern Physics
Principles of Physics I: Mechanics and Wave Motion
Principles of Physics II: Electromagnetism and Radiation
Honors Physics I: Mechanics and Wave Motion
Honors Physics II: Electromagnetism and Radiation
Core Courses
Experiential Course1
Penn in the Alps
Earth's Surface
Urban Environments: Speaking About Lead in West Philadelphia
The Role of Water in Urban Sustainability and Resiliency
Air Pollution: Sources & Effects in Urban Environments
Penn Global Seminar: Case Studies in Environmental Sustainability
Field Botany
Freshwater Ecology
Deep Time1
Human Origins, Evolution and Diversity
Evolutionary Biology
Earth and Life Through Geologic Time
Climate Science1
Global Climate Change
Glaciers,Ice & Climate
Ocean-Atmosphere Dynamics and Implications for Future Climate Change
Spatial Analysis1
GIS: Mapping Places & Analyzing Spaces
Remote Sensing
Modeling Geographical Objects
GIS Applications in Social Science
6 Electives with attribute AERE6
Total Course Units35
GPA 3.25
Senior Honors Thesis2
Two semesters of EESC 4997 (grade of B+ or higher) are required for Honors in the Major.
Senior Thesis

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2023 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.