Earth Science B.S.

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. Full time faculty teach 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."

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

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 climate change (especially warming), severe weather and its consequences, and natural hazard assessment and preparedness (earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.).

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 the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department.


Getting started

Your starting point for this degree is the following 200-level courses, which can be taken in any order:

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

It is important to complete CHEM-C 117 and CHEM-C 127 during the first year in order to be prepared for the remaining coursework.

You should also consider completing Calculus I and Calculus II (MATH-M 211 and MATH-M 212) in your first two years.

Tracks and concentrations

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


Upper level coursework

The coursework in the third year is:

  • Data Analysis EAS-E 314
  • Three additional 300 level courses from the following list: EAS-E 308 Paleontology and Geology of Indiana, EAS-E 321 Minerology, EAS-E 322 Petrology, EAS-E 328 Energy Resources, EAS-A 332 Atmospheric Thermodynamics, EAS-E 333 Sedimentation and Tectonics, EAS-E 341 Coral Reefs, EAS-A 347 Atmospheric Instrumentation, and EAS-E 351 Hydrology

During the fourth year students explore more specialized areas and enroll in a minimum of four advanced 400-level courses of a more topical nature.

Finally, all majors are required to complete a 6-week summer field course, either EAS-X 429 or EAS-X 479 taught at the Judson Mead Geologic Field Station located in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. The field course is typically taken in the summer after the third year.

All Earth and Atmospheric Sciences students are encouraged to become involved in research during their undergraduate career and work 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.

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 additional majors, minors, or certificates.

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences students often pursue minors or dual degrees in Anthropology, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Physics, or a wide range of degrees from O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. You may also pursue coursework and/or minors in several other disciplines. Please review the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin to consider additional areas of interest.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a degree in Earth Science B.S. you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals. 

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 (Links to an external site.). 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. 

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences is a field with a large focus on research. All Earth and Atmospheric Sciences students are encouraged to work with faculty on research during their undergraduate career.

You could also work with a faculty member through a readings course, GEOL-G 399 Readings for Honors. Talk to your Earth and Atmospheric Sciences academic advisor or your instructors about this option. It will provide you an opportunity to pursue a specific topic or interest that may not be covered in your other coursework.

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

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


The Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Departmental Honors Program recognizes outstanding students for their coursework and participation in research. Students pursuing a B.S. or B.A. in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences may work towards this goal.

Recognition of departmental honors requires working on an independent research project, typically carried out under the supervision of a 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 your 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 studying in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department may be interested in pursuing one or more of the scholarships and awards that are offered by the College of Arts and Sciences. Because the requirements and conditions for these vary, it is recommended that students 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 Science B.S. degree requires third 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 six 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 Science B.S. 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 Science 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. This group works on events and networking within the earth and atmospheric sciences field and is open to both undergraduates and graduate students.

If you are interested in promoting awareness of economic geology and its impact on society to the student population at IUB, the Society of Economic Geologists student chapter may interest you.

Other earth and atmospheric sciences groups you could become involved in at IU include:

  • American Association of Petroleum Geology
  • Atmospheric Sciences Club
  • Geochemistry, Astrobiology, Orgin 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:

To learn more, sign up to receive weekly e-mail messages from the Bloomington Volunteer Network.

Professional organizations

The following are some of the different professional organizations for geologists.

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 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
  • Experience with complex equipment and precise measurements
  • Field observation and laboratory skills
  • Integrative thinking and analysis
  • Mathematical reasoning and modeling
  • 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 your career coach.

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 Science 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 Science B.S. degree take their knowledge into many career fields. They are well prepared to work in the energy and environmental industries, research, education, federal and state government agencies, policy think tanks, and non-profit organizations.

Graduates with the Earth Science B.S. degree 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 with this degree.

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

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!

Post-graduate short-term experiences

The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international 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.

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. 

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.

An Earth Science B.S. degree will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in all areas of Earth and Atmospheric Science and Environmental Science. Earth Science B.S. graduates have pursued graduate degrees in geology, geophysics, forest ecology, geobiology, atmospheric sciences, geological engineering, and hydrology, among others.

Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:

Alumni connections

The IU College of Arts + 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 to pursue laboratory work
  • 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

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

The B.S. degree provides a solid foundation in earth and atmospheric sciences. It equips you to build a professional career in the earth, environmental or atmospheric sciences, leading to employment in industrial, governmental, media or instructional sectors, or to advanced study.

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

Department website
Advisor email address