Undergraduate Degrees in Earth Science

Brochure - Rice Earth Science Undergraduate Program [164k PDF]

Want to climb active volcanoes, sail around Antarctica, explore the world's oceans, help the global environment, join geophysical expeditions, learn advanced laboratory skills, study the Earth's deep interior, and gain valuable job experience? Then explore the opportunities with a degree from Rice in Earth Science.

The Department of Earth Science offers undergraduate students the opportunity to pursue exciting careers in energy, the environment, government, education and academia. Our recently revised curriculum teaches skills that prepare students for the challenges of the 21st Century in geology, geophysics, geochemistry, environmental sciences, and more.

Students in Earth Science can choose either a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree path. The BS in Earth Science degree should be chosen by students planning a career or further study in Earth Science or a related field. The BA in Earth Science degree has fewer requirements and might be a good choice for students planning a career or further study to which Earth Science is incidental.

All undergraduate majors in Earth Science take a four-course core sequence, typically in the sophomore and junior years, on earth processes, materials, observations, and history. Majors also take a course in geological field techniques and introductory courses in mathematics, chemistry, and in many cases, physics and biology.

The selection of upper-division courses and additional science courses depends on the degrees chosen, BS in Earth Science or BA in Earth Science. The BS major offers five tracks: geology, geochemistry, geophysics, environmental earth science, or a self- designed track (designed by the student and a faculty member subject to the approval of a department undergraduate advisor.) All our programs of study include experiences with analytical equipment, computer systems, and fieldwork. The BA degree provides great flexibility of courses choices. For more information, go to BS in Earth Science Major Requirements or BA in Earth Science Major Requirements.

Research Opportunities

Students have the opportunity to work very closely with an internationally-known and respected faculty that conduct research projects all over the world. Field opportunities abound. Many undergraduates also present their own research projects at national and international professional conferences.

Faculty members have joint research projects with scientists at over 100 institutions worldwide, giving an international scope to the department with research programs on all the continents, in all of the oceans, and on four planets. Course offerings can include field trips to a variety of destinations and geologic settings enabling faculty, students, and researchers to visit classic geologic features, sites, and provinces around the world. Recent field trips and research projects include travel to Chile, Antarctica, Hawaii, Cuba, the Alps, the Canadian Rockies, Spain, and Morocco.

Rice's size encourages interdepartmental research. Earth Science faculty conduct multi-disciplinary research projects with faculty in a number of other Rice science and engineering departments, in particular, Chemistry, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Computational and Applied Mathematics, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. In addition, the Department of Earth Science hosts a collaborative research center, i.e., the Center for Computational Geophysics and collaborates with other interdepartmental research centers, such as the Energy and Environmental Systems Institute, the Institute for Biosciences and Bioengineering, the Center for the Study of the Environment and Society, the Shell Center for Sustainability, the Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology, and the Center for Lunar Science Exploration.

Endowment

The department has a large endowment that helps maintain state-of-the-art facilities including classrooms, offices, research equipment, and extensive computing technology, labs, and workstations. Department research expenditures are over $2M annually, with faculty research programs sponsored by a number of federal agencies, notably the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Department of Energy, as well as the energy industry.

Career Opportunities

Houston is the center of the international energy industry and home to NASA's Johnson Space Center and the Lunar and Planetary Institute. The department maintains strong ties with the oil and gas exploration industry, in which many of our alumni are now employed.

Student Life

The department has a very active student organization, known as the GeoUnion, for both graduate and undergraduate students. GeoUnion hosts visiting speakers, is involved with campus and national professional societies (AAPG, AGU, GSA, SEG, SEPM), sponsors social and professional gatherings, holds an annual, industry-funded field trip, and coordinates earth science outreach and other graduate activities on campus.

For more information, contact Earth Science Undergraduate Advisors:

André Droxler
713-348-4885
andre@rice.edu

Juli Morgan
713-348-6330
morganj@rice.edu

Department of Earth Science
Keith Wiess Geological Laboratories
Rice University
713-348-4880

General information on becoming a Rice Undergraduate: http://futureowls.rice.edu/home.aspx


Earth Science Bachelors Degree Requirements

Obtaining a Bachelor's Degree in Earth Science requires meeting the general university requirements for the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degrees, and to meeting the requirements for a corresponding major in Earth Science. The BS in Earth Science major requires completing the BS Required Courses for all major tracks and the Additional Requirements for a major track. The BA in Earth Science major requires completing the BA Required Courses and there are no tracks.
 

Degree Requirements for BS in Earth Science

For general university requirements, see Graduation Requirements.

BS majors also must complete the "Additional Requirements" for one track (described below).

  • The following courses are required for all tracks:
  • MATH 101/102 Single Variable Calculus I and II
  • CHEM 121/122 or 151/152 General Chemistry I and II with lab
  • PHYS 101/102 or 111/112 Introductory Physics I and II with lab
  • ESCI 321 Earth System Evolution and Cycles
  • ESCI 322 Earth Chemistry and Materials
  • ESCI 323 Earth Structure and Deformation
  • ESCI 324 Earthís Interior
  • ESCI 334 Geological Techniques

Additional Requirements for the Geology Track

  • The following courses are required:
  • MATH 211 Ordinary Differential Equations and Linear Algebra
  • ESCI 390 Geology Field Camp
  • ESCI 442 Exploration Geophysics
  • ESCI 427 Sequence Stratigraphy
     
    • Choose one of the following courses:
    • COMP 110 Computation in Natural Science
    • CAAM 210 Introduction to Engineering Computation
    • Choose one of the following courses:
    • ESCI 412 Advanced Petrology
    • ESCI 430 Principles of Trace-Element and Isotope Geochemistry
    • Choose one of the following courses:
    • ESCI 504 Siliciclastic Depositional Systems
    • ESCI 506 Carbonate Depositional Systems
    • ESCI 421 Paleoceanography
    • Choose one of the following courses:
    • ESCI 410 Optical Mineralogy and Petrography
    • ESCI 418 Quantitative Hydrogeology
    • ESCI 463 Advanced Structural Geology
    • ESCI 428 Geologic Interpretation of Reflection Seismic Profiles
    • ESCI 464 Global Tectonics

Additional Requirements for the Geochemistry Track

  • The following courses are required:
  • BIOC 201 Introductory Biology
  • ESCI 390 Geology Field Camp or
  • ESCI 391 Earth Science Field Experience
     
    • Choose nine hours from the following:
    • ESCI 340 Global Biogeochemical Cycles
    • ESCI 412 Advanced Petrology
    • ESCI 419 Materials Characterization
    • ESCI 421 Paleoceanography
    • ESCI 425 Organic Geochemistry
    • ESCI 458 Thermodynamics/Kinetics for Geoscientists
    • ESCI 203 Biogeochemistry
    • ESCI 430 Principles of Trace-Element and Isotope Geochemistry
    • Choose eight hours from the following:
    • All upper division ESCI courses
    • CEVE 401 Introduction to Environmental Chemistry
    • CEVE 403 Principles of Environmental Engineering
    • CEVE 434 Chemical Transport and Fate in the Environment
    • CEVE 532 Physical-Chemical Processes in Environmental Engineering
    • CEVE 534 Transport Phenomena and Environmental Modeling
    • CEVE 550 Environmental Organic Chemistry
    • EBIO 202 Introductory Biology
    • BIOC 211 Introductory Lab Module in Biological Science
    • CHEM 211/212 Organic Chemistry
    • CHEM 311/312 Physical Chemistry
    • CHEM 415 Chemical Kinetics and Dynamics
    • CHEM 495 Transition Metal Chemistry
    • MATH 211 Ordinary Differential Equations and Linear Algebra
    • MATH 212 Multivariable Calculus
    • COMP 110 Computation Science and Engineering
    • CAAM 210 Introduction to Engineering Computation

Additional Requirements for the Geophysics Track

  • The following courses are required:
  • MATH 211 Ordinary Differential Equations and Linear Algebra
  • MATH 212 Multivariable Calculus
  • PHYS 201 Waves and Optics
  • PHYS 231 Elementary Physics Lab II
  • ESCI 390 Geology Field Camp or ESCI 391 Earth Science Field Experience
     
    • Choose one of the following courses:
    • COMP 110 Computation in Natural Science
    • CAAM 210 Introduction to Engineering Computation
    • Choose six hours from the following:
    • ESCI 418 Quantitative Hydrogeology
    • ESCI 440 Geophysical Data Analysis: Digital Signal Processing
    • ESCI 441 Geophysical Data Analysis: Inverse Theory
    • ESCI 442 Exploration Geophysics
    • ESCI 444 Seismic Reflection Data Processing
    • ESCI 450 Remote Sensing
    • ESCI 454 Geographic Information Science
    • ESCI 461 Seismology I
    • ESCI 462 Tectonophysics
    • ESCI 464 Global Tectonics
    • ESCI 542 Seismology II
    • Choose six hours from the immediately preceding or following lists:
    • Any three- or four-hour course in ESCI with a number between 411 and 475, except for research and special studies
    • Any 300- or 400-level MATH, CAAM,or PHYS class
    • CHEM 311 Physical Chemistry

Additional Requirements for the Environmental Earth Science Track

  • The following courses are required:
  • MATH 211 Ordinary Differential Equations and Linear Algebra
  • BIOC 201 Introductory Biology
  • ESCI 390 Geology Field Camp or ESCI 391 Earth Science Field Experience
  • STAT 280 Elementary Applied Statistics
     
    • Choose one of the following courses:
    • COMP 110 Computation in Natural Science
    • CAAM 210 Introduction to Engineering Computation
    • Choose 11 hours from the following, including at least two courses in ESCI:
    • ESCI 340 Global Biogeochemical Cycles
    • ESCI 414 Physics and Chemistry of the Atmosphere
    • ESCI 418 Quantitative Hydrogeology
    • ESCI 419 Materials Characterization
    • ESCI 425 Organic Geochemistry
    • ESCI 442 Exploration Geophysics
    • ESCI 454 Geographic Information Science
    • ESCI 458 Thermodynamics/Kinetics for Earth Scientists
    • ESCI 463 Advanced Structural Geology I
    • ESCI 504 Siliciclastic Depositional Systems
    • ESCI 506 Carbonate Depositional Systems
    • CEVE 306 Global Environmental Law and Sustainable Development
    • CEVE 401 Environmental Chemistry
    • CEVE 406 Introduction to Environmental Law
    • CEVE 412 Hydrogeology and Watershed Analysis
    • CEVE 434 Chemical Transport and Fate in the Environment
    • CHEM 211 Organic Chemistry
    • CHEM 311 Physical Chemistry
    • CHEM 360 Inorganic Chemistry
    • PHYS 201 Waves and Optics
    • PHYS 231 Elementary Physics Lab II
    • EBIO 202 Introductory Biology

Additional Requirements for the Self-Designed Track

The department recognizes the interdisciplinary nature of modern earth science and the opportunity for students to specialize in nontraditional and emerging fields. Therefore, students can design their own specialty track, normally in close consultation with one faculty member and followed by approval from the departmentís undergraduate advisor. In addition to required earth science courses and related courses, these tracks will generally comprise 18 additional hours that target a coherent theme from an approved list of 300- or higher-level courses, from inside or outside the department. Interested students are expected to submit a statement of rationale by the beginning of their third year.

  • Choose nine hours from the following:
  • BIOC 201 Introductory Biology
  • COMP 110 Computation in Natural Science
  • CAAM 210 Introduction to Engineering Computation
  • CHEM 311/312 Physical Chemistry I and II
  • MATH 211 Ordinary Differential Equations and Linear Algebra
  • MATH 212 Multivariable Calculus
  • PHYS 201 Waves and Optics ESCI 390 Geology Field Camp or
  • ESCI 391 Earth Science Field Experience

Choose 18 hours of additional courses numbered 300 or higher targeting a coherent theme selected with approval of the department undergraduate advisor.
 
 

Degree Requirements for BA in Earth Science

For general university requirements, see Graduation Requirements.

  • The following courses are required:
  • MATH 101/102 Single Variable Calculus I and II
  • CHEM 121/122 or 151/152 General Chemistry I and II with lab
  • ESCI 321 Earth System Evolution and Cycles
  • ESCI 322 Earth Chemistry and Materials
  • ESCI 323 Earth Structure and Deformation with lab
  • ESCI 324 Earthís Interior
  • ESCI 334 Geological and Geophysical Techniques
     
    • Choose six hours from the following:
    • BIOC 201 and EBIO 202 Introductory Biology
    • BIOC 211 and EBIO 213 Biology Lab Modules
    • MATH 211 Differential Equations
    • PHYS 101/102 or 125/126 Introductory Physics
    • COMP 110 Computation in Natural Science or CAAM 210 Introduction to Engineering Computation

Choose four upper division ESCI courses, approved by the department undergraduate advisor.

Choose six hours in science and engineering (including ESCI) courses at the 200 level or above approved by the department undergraduate advisor.
 
 

Undergraduate Independent Research

The department encourages, but does not require, earth science undergraduate majors to pursue independent supervised research in ESCI 481 Research in Earth Science. See also Honors Programs.
 
 

Advising for New Students

If you are a new student interested in majoring in Earth Science:

  1. We suggest that you take Math first year. If you have not AP'ed out of math, plan to take MATH 101. If you have AP'ed out of MATH 101, take MATH 102. If you have AP'ed out of MATH 101 and 102, take MATH 211. Otherwise, contact one of the department undergraduate advisors.
  2. We suggest that you take CHEM 121 first year. If you have AP'ed out of introductory chemistry, we suggest that you accept this credit and consider taking Physics in your first year. If you are very interested in the chemistry aspects of Earth Science, contact one of the department undergraduate advisors.
  3. We suggest that you postpone taking Physics 101 until your second year (except see item 2).
  4. We suggest that you take ESCI 321 Earth Systems and Cycles first year.
  5. The rest of your schedule is more flexible.

If you are a student not planning to major in Earth Science, but are interested in how the Earth works and/or are seeking an interesting class in Distribution III, consider taking one or more of the following classes.

  1. ESCI 101 "The Earth" (Fall and Spring; 3 credits)
  2. ESCI 103 "Field Trips for the Earth" (Spring; 1 credit)
  3. ESCI 107 "Oceans and Global Change" (Fall; 3 credits)
  4. ESCI 109 "Oceanography" (Spring; 3 credits)
  5. ESCI 110 "Energy, the Environment, and Society" (Irregular; 3 credits)
  6. ESCI 214 "The Planets" (Spring; 3 credits)

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