Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, BA

The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences is home to a close-knit group of faculty, staff and students who are continuously engaged with one another in the study of their discipline. The full-time faculty teaches all courses in the department. Small class sizes have led many students to describe the department as a "small college environment in a large research university."

Students interested in earth and atmospheric sciences have several options, including an Earth and Atmospheric Sciences B.A. degree, an Earth Science B.S. degree, an Atmospheric Science Certificate, or a minor in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Check the bulletin for more informaiton.

A degree in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department will position you to address such pressing issues as energy and mineral resources, environmental pollution, global change (especially warming), severe weather and its consequences, and natural hazard assessment and preparedness (earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and so on).

Many pressing environmental issues are related to basic processes best explored and understood through earth and atmospheric sciences. Some courses emphasize the earth as a member of the solar system, the origin of life, and earth materials. Interested students may pursue these themes further on a topical basis or consider a minor or major in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department.


Getting started

The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences offers a large number of courses that serve as an excellent introduction to earth and atmospheric processes that directly affect humanity.

Your starting point for this degree is one of the following 100-level courses:

  • EAS-E 103 Earth Science: Materials and Processes
  • EAS-E 104 Evolution and the Earth
  • EAS-E 111 Journey to the Center of the Earth

The second year course sequence for majors includes:

  • EAS-E 225 Earth Materials, EAS-E 226 Earth Processes or EAS-E 227 Earth Climate and History

Tracks and concentrations

Students majoring in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences have three degree options: an Earth and Atmospheric Sciences B.A., a B.S. in Earth Science, or a B.S. in Atmospheric Science.  You could also earn an Atmospheric Science certificate. Contact the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences academic advisor to discuss your options.

There are many opportunities for Atmospheric Science research. The faculty are conducting research in such areas as:

  • radiative force and climate change
  • tropical cyclone morphology
  • satellite remote sensing
  • GPS occultation methods

Students with an interest in Atmospheric Science may have an opportunity to conduct research at the meteorological tower site in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest.

The Earth Atmospheric Sciences B.A. requires 30 hours of Geological Sciences coursework. This degree is typically coupled with other degrees outside of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Upper level coursework

The B.A. major in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences is flexible. It allows you to choose the courses you find most useful to your specific earth and atmospheric science interests. You are required to complete 18 hours of 300/400-level Earth and Atmospheric Sciences courses to earn the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences B.A.

All students in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department are encouraged to become involved in research during their undergraduate career, working with a faculty member on a specific project.

Students with senior standing who are pursuing departmental Honors typically enroll in EAS-E 499 and prepare a written thesis under the supervision of a faculty supervisor. Students not working towards departmental Honors can enroll in EAS-X 498 for Undergraduate Research.

While pursuing an Earth and Atmospheric Sciences B.A., you should consider spending one summer at field camp, generally between your third and fourth year of study. Students are encouraged to take EAS-X 429 Field Geology in the Rocky Mountains at Judson Mead Geologic Field Station. If time and opportunity allow, additional field experiences should be considered. For more information about this and other opportunities, review the courses available at Judson Mead Geologic Field Station.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Your major represents about one half of your degree requirements. With the help of your Earth and Atmospheric Sciences academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest, with the addition of majors, minors, or certificates in other fields.

The Earth and Atmospheric Sciences B.A. offers maximum flexibility in the selection of courses that complement and strengthen a broad range of disciplines - from anthropology and archaeology to business and economics, from environmental issues or water and energy resources and sustainability to eco-tourism. The requirements enable students to obtain a second major with comparatively little advanced planning. You can enhance your major with work in a related field and simultaneously satisfy the Natural and Mathematical Sciences Breadth of Inquiry requirement.

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences majors often pursue minors or dual degrees in Anthropology, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Physics, or a wide range of degrees in the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. You may also pursue coursework or minors in several other disciplines. The College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin provides information about additional areas of interest.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing an Earth and Atmospheric Sciences B.A., you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in their fields of study. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of readings and assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences is a field with a large focus on research. All students pursuing a degree in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department are encouraged to work with faculty, becoming involved in research during their undergraduate career.

You can get involved in research as early as your freshman year. Many incoming freshmen apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker. 

You could also work part-time with a member of the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences faculty or a faculty member from another department on a research project, as an hourly worker or for academic credit (EAS-X 498 or EAS-E 499).

Teaching opportunities for undergraduates are available through Teaching Internship in Geology EAS-X 371.


The Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Departmental Honors Program recognizes outstanding students for their coursework and participation in research. Students pursuing either an Earth Science B.S. or Earth and Atmospheric Sciences B.A. degree may work towards this goal.

Recognition for departmental honors requires working on an independent research project, typically carried out under the supervision of an Earth and Atmospheric Sciences faculty member. This work culminates before the end of the senior year with the writing of an honors thesis. You will also be examined orally through a presentation describing the work to a committee of three faculty members.

In addition to fulfilling the requirements associated with the B.S. or B.A. degree, students in the honors program have the opportunity to take special readings courses and enroll in honors sections of regular undergraduate courses.

To graduate with honors, you must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.300. Interested students should consult the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences departmental honors advisor for details, no later than first semester of your junior year.

High-achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Students majoring in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department may be interested in pursuing one or more of the scholarships and awards offered by the College of Arts and Sciences. Because the requirements and conditions for these vary, it is recommended that you work with the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences academic advisor before applying to these programs.

Options include:


Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through The Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you’ll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.

Foreign language study

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 80 languages.

The Earth and Atmospheric Sciences B.A. requires fourth-semester proficiency in a foreign language.

Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington.

Overseas study

The Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department offers Field Geology and Paleoanthropology in Tanzania during the summers. It is a 6-week study abroad opportunity at the world's most famous archaeological site.

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in our increasingly interconnected world. Earth and Atmospheric Sciences B.A. students often pursue language study and other coursework through the following exchange programs:

  • Adelaide, Australia
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Canberra, Australia
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Madrid, IU
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Oxford-St. Anne's, England
  • Perth, Australia
  • Wollongong, Australia

The College of Arts + Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Earth and Atmospheric Sciences faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

You may also want to get involved with the Sigma Gamma Epsilon student group, which hosts the annual Crossroads Conference at Indiana University. This group works on events and networking within the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences field and is open to both undergraduates and graduate students.

Other earth and atmospheric sciences groups at IU include:

  • American Association of Petroleum Geology
  • Atmospheric Sciences Club
  • Geochemistry, Astrobiology, Origin of Life reading group
  • Geology Club
  • IU Geophysical Society

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

The following are some of the professional organizations for earth and atmospheric sciences:

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

The major in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Ability to decipher complex interrelationships in the natural world
  • Field observation and laboratory skills
  • Integrative thinking and analysis
  • Problem solving
  • Written and oral communication

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:  

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what key skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

 The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take Initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.


Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after College.


Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with the Earth and Atmopheric Sciences career coach at the Walter Center for Career Achievement.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests.  These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

Maximize your career preparation with a career course. Earth and Atmospheric Sciences majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The section dedicated to Natural and Mathematical Sciences provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go!

The job market

As global issues related to energy and mineral resources, environmental pollution, climate change, and natural hazards grow in importance, so does the importance of a degree in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department.

Students with the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences B.A. take their knowledge into many career fields. They are well prepared to work in the energy and environmental industries, education, federal and state government agencies, research and policy think tanks, and non-profit organizations. 

Graduates with the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences B.A. have become researchers, petroleum engineers, environmental specialists, atmospheric scientists, hydrologic field technicians, logging geoscientists, field geologists, policy advisors, and educators.

Talk with Earth and Atmospheric Sciences faculty, the academic advisor , career coach, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Walter Center for Career Achievement First Destination Survey Report has top-level data about College of Arts + Sciences students. It shows success rates by major, as well as the graduate schools, internships, and job offers students have reported through our survey methods.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these:

Using these and other resources, your career coach can help you craft a unique post-graduate short-term experience, whether in the United States or abroad.

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.

Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you’ll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other professional programs.

Students who pursue graduate studies in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences typically go into high-level energy or environmental industry positions or academic institutions that emphasize teaching, research or both. 

An Earth and Atmospheric Sciences B.A. prepares you for entry into graduate programs in all areas of Earth and Atmospheric Science and Environmental Science. Graduates with the B.A. major in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences have pursued graduate study in geology, geophysics, forest ecology, geobiology, atmospheric sciences, geological engineering, and hydrology, among other fields. 

Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:

Alumni connections

The IU College of Arts and Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts +Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.

Is it for you?

The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Desire for more than one major/field of study
  • Drive to help clean up the environment
  • Excitement for science
  • Interest in global warming and its impact on the future
  • Love for working outdoors
  • Passion for finding new energy resources

Learn more

Contact the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements for the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences majors can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address