Undergraduate Program

Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) encompasses a wide range broad topics such as (1) climate change, meteorology, and oceanography; (2) environmental science, geochemistry, and natural resources including global energy supply; (3) paleontology, evolutionary theory, and the history of life on Earth; and (4) plate tectonics, earthquakes and volcanoes, and planetary science. The EPS department has close links with other departments at Yale, including Astronomy, Anthropology, Physics, Chemistry, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; as well as the School of the Environment, the Yale Peabody Museum, the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, and the  Yale Energy Studies program.

EPS majors employ core concepts in physics, chemistry, and biology, to study the Earth system in its natural state as well as to understand the connections between humans and their environment.   Recent alumni have gone into careers within academia, government, industry, consulting, or even such diverse fields as law, finance, and medicine.


The EPS department consists of a closely knit community where faculty, students, and scholars work together in a convivial manner.  The relatively small size of our department permits individual attention to be given to each student.   Camaraderie within our community is enhanced by field trips associated with many of our classes, which in recent years have explored Australia, Barbados, Italy, Martinique/Dominica, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa/Namibia, United Kingdom, and various regions within the United States and Canada (see selected photos using the links at right).

The EPS undergraduate program consists of five alternative tracks, defined by discipline.  The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) track in Geology and Natural Resources is designed for students aiming for a general overview of the Earth sciences.  The B.A. track is more lenient on prerequisites (mathematics in particular) and total number of courses, and is particularly appropriate for students pursuing a double major or seeking a career in law, business, government, or environmental fields.  The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) program is designed to prepare students for professional careers in the Earth sciences.  It has prerequisites in math, chemistry, and physics or biology, and requires about 10 courses beyond those prerequisites, plus a senior project.  Details vary among the four tracks, which are named: (1) atmosphere, ocean, and climate, (2) environmental and energy geoscience, (3) paleontology and geobiology, and (4) solid Earth sciences.

Students considering a major in EPS should first explore the various alternative tracks among the B.A. and B.S. degrees, interested students should review the EPS program description on the Yale College Programs of Study site, and then arrange a meeting with the Director of Undergraduate Studies.  Although some students arrive at Yale already considering the EPS major, many of our students become aware of the program in the sophomore year.  Although each track has its course prerequisites (from math, chemistry, biology, or physics), those do not all need to be taken in advance of introductory or even some mid-level EPS courses.


More information on majoring in EPS:

List of classes in EPS
Research opportunities
Recent alumni and senior thesis archive
Recent EPS Department prize recipients
Yale College Undergraduate Admissions