Earth and Planetary Sciences

Major and Minor

Earth and Planetary Sciences focus on the study of the origin and evolution of the Earth and other planets in the solar system from their formation 4.6 billion years ago to the present. An understanding of Earth's history helps us predict future changes in our world. Earth and Planetary Science studies span deep Earth processes, including the causes of earthquakes and volcanoes, groundwater and surface water cycles, oceanic and atmospheric circulation, and extend from ancient climates to modern and future climates and the history, sustainability and origin of life on Earth. Some background in chemistry, physics, math, or biology is helpful but not essential to start the Earth and Planetary Sciences major.

Highlights of the Hopkins Program

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences offers a flexible undergraduate program that allows students in consultation with departmental faculty to tailor their course of study to meet their interests and objectives. Double majors with Earth and Planetary Sciences are common with other majors in the natural sciences but are not limited to them. A minor in Earth and Planetary Sciences is available for students majoring in other disciplines who wish to have an introduction to the processes that control the Earth's environment.


Sample First Semester Schedule
  • Calculus I, AS.110.106 or AS.110.108
  • General Physics I, AS.171.101/103/107 OR Introductory Chemistry I, AS.030.101
  • H or S course for distribution
  • Dynamic Earth (270.220) with lab (270.221). **Note: General Physics (AP or AS.171.101/103/107) or Introductory Chemistry I (AP or AS.030.101) is a prerequisite or corequisite for this class**
  • Elective
  • Total 12-17 credits


Career Exploration

Skill Set

The “real world” skills you’ll develop with a major in Earth and Planetary Sciences:

  • Experience characterizing the physical, chemical and biological processes the shape the Earth
  • The ability to apply knowledge of the Earth's past to understanding the Earth system today and predicting its future
  • Data collection and analysis in laboratory and field settings
  • Reporting and communicating scientific results through the written word, graphically and orally
  • Remote sensing and field-based techniques to monitor environmental settings
  • Understanding the origin of important sustainable and non-sustainable resources

Career Center

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