Woman sitting on edge of a ledge.
School of the Environment

Earth Sciences

Earth scientists study our planet’s processes and how they work‚ as well as the natural processes of global change, to understand our current environmental conditions.

Explore the Possibilities

Earth Sciences is an interdisciplinary geology and geosciences major that allows you to explore and understand the processes that support life on Earth.

This knowledge is urgently needed to tackle such problems as sustainably exploring for natural resources, understanding global climate change, and reducing suffering and loss from natural hazards.

As an Earth Sciences major you will explore the environmental and physical processes of the Earth, experience the latest in science and technology, and with WSU professors as mentors, conduct your own research in geosciences and geology. Upon graduation you will be prepared to begin work as a geologist, geochemist, exploration scientist (for petroleum, natural gas, and mineral deposits), climatologist, hydrologist, mineralogist, oceanographer or in a related career path.

Career Opportunities

  • Exploration Geoscientist
  • Petroleum or Mining Geologists
  • Geochemist
  • Geophysicist
  • Earth Science Educator
  • Geotechnical Specialist
  • Hydrologist
  • Mineralogist
  • Planetary Geologist
  • Volcanologist
Student working in lab on the computer.

Quick Facts

3:1 Student to faculty ratio
$45-65k + Average starting salary for a geologist in Eastern WA (Sallary.com 2023)
240 k+ Across the SoE system we award over $240,000 a year in scholarships

Major Requirements

Minimum Total Credits: 120 credits

Your program may include different courses. Consult with your advisor about the best combination and order of courses for you. Visit the WSU Catalog for a list of required courses for this major and course descriptions.

General Education and Introductory Science and Math Requirements: 50 credits

SoE Core Requirements: 23–24 credits

Earth Sciences Major Core: 26–27 credits

  • SOE 340: Structural Geology and Plate Tectonics – 4 credits
  • SOE 350: Earth Materials – 4 credits
  • Select six (6) Earth Sciences electives from the list below:
    • SOE 303: Environmental Geology – 3 credits
    • SOE 320: Sedimentary Petrology and Sedimentation – 3 credits
    • SOE 356: Magmatic Processes – 3 credits
    • SOE 357: An Introduction to Metamorphic Rocks and Minerals and How They Impact Our World – 3 credits
    • SOE 405: Near Surface Geophysics – 3 credits
    • SOE 474: Physics and Chemistry of the Earth – 4 credits
    • SOE 475: Groundwater – 3 credits
    • SOE 480: Building a Habitable Planet – 3 credits
    • GEOLOGY 490: Field Camp II (at University of Idaho) – 3 credits

Professional Electives (taken for the major): 22 credits

Personnel inspecting ground, collecting samples.