Earth Science: Environmental Science, BA

The Earth Science major provides graduates with a broad understanding of the physical and chemical processes that operate in and on the planet and how direct and indirect methods are used to examine and understand the structure, composition, and dynamics of the Earth.  Graduates appreciate how humans and ecosystems interact with the dynamic Earth, and they have an in-depth knowledge of the atmosphere and climate change, the rock cycle, natural hazards, and the hydrologic and biogeochemical cycles. Additionally, they understand how to measure and use the structure, sequence, and properties of rocks, sediments, and fossils to reconstruct events in Earth's history and identify potential natural hazards or earth resources.

The Environmental Science concentration within the Earth Science major integrates geology, biology, chemistry, and physics in an effort to have students undertake a scientific study of the environment and the effects of humans on Earth systems.

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 + Sectors1 + Free Electives20
Major Requirements
Core Requirement
ENVS 1000Introduction to Environmental Science1
Select one of the following:1
Introduction to Geology
Natural Disturbances and Disasters
Earth and Life Through Time
Global Climate Change
Environmental Case Studies
Penn Global Seminar: Case Studies in Environmental Sustainability
Math, Physics & Chemistry Requirement
Select 3 course units of Math, Physics and Chemistry courses with at least one course from two different disciplines.3
Calculus, Part I
Calculus, Part II
Calculus, Part II with Probability and Matrices
Introductory Statistics
General Physics: Mechanics, Heat and Sound
Principles of Physics I: Mechanics and Wave Motion
Honors Physics I: Mechanics and Wave Motion
General Physics: Electromagnetism, Optics, and Modern Physics
Principles of Physics II: Electromagnetism and Radiation
Honors Physics II: Electromagnetism and Radiation
Introduction to General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry Laboratory I
Introduction to General Chemistry II
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
Earth & Environmental Systems
Select 5 course units in Earth & Environmental Systems with at least one ENVS, one EESC course and two at the 3000-level or above5
Living Systems5
Introduction to Biology A
Introduction to Biology B (and AP Credit)
Ecology: From individuals to ecosystems
1 elective course from the pre-approved Living Systems course list 2
Introduction to Biology - The Molecular Biology of Life
Ecology: From individuals to ecosystems
3 elective courses from the pre-approved Living Systems course list 2
Curriculum Related Practical Experience
Field Course or Equivalent Experience
Total Course Units35

You may count no more than one course toward both a Major and a Sector requirement. For Exceptions, check the Policy Statement.


Pre-approved Living Systems course list can be found here.


Applicants must have a 3.25 GPA in the major and complete a Senior Thesis with a B+ or above.

Select 2 course units of courses from the approved list on EESC website2
Senior Thesis (2 semesters (0.5 CU each))
Environmental Studies Research Seminar for Juniors

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2022 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.