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Washington State University

Earth Science

The Earth Sciences major at WSU prepares you with the skills to engage in some of our most challenging problems, such as responsible exploration for and extraction and use of natural resources, understanding consequences of global climate change, and reducing human suffering and property loss from natural hazards.

In the integrated curriculum of WSU’s School of the Environment, you will explore and understand the Earth’s physical and environmental processes.  Along the way, you’ll have unbeatable opportunities to experience the latest science and technology. With WSU professors as your mentors, you can even conduct your own research.


Your Experience in Earth Science

Be inspired to make a difference in your world in a program that prepares students to address the challenges of global change, responsible use of geologic and water resources, and reducing human suffering and property loss from natural hazards.

  • Get hands-on experience in science labs and teaching programs like the GeoAnalytical Laboratory, Astrobiology Laboratory & Computational Geodynamic Laboratory
  • Work closely with professors who are nationally recognized experts in topics such as:
    • Geochemistry of large volcanic eruptions
    • Hydrothermal systems
    • Chemical and physical evolution of the Earth
  • Study at nearby field sites like the Columbia River Basalt plateau, Idaho and Wallowa batholiths, Cascade volcanos, and local groundwater sources
  • Expand your experience through the department’s close ties to the Department of Geology at nearby University of Idaho
hiker on mountain
students on dunes long
geology student drilling rock
Expand your interest in Geology with field trips, lectures/seminars, scientific demonstrations, and Rock & Mineral Sale at Geology club.
Learn the fundamental concepts of geology through course work and hands-on experience.
Gain hands-on experience through field trips, field camps, internships and research.

Your Course of Study

  1. University general education requirements (UCORE)
  2. Basic biology, chemistry, physics, math & statistics classes
  3. Earth and Environmental Science integrated common core classes
    • SOE 300 Natural Resources Ecology OR BIOL 372 General Ecology
    • Introduction to GIS (SOILS 368)
    • SOE 210 Earth History & Evolution OR SOE 250 Intro to Earth System Science
    • SOE 312 Nat Res & Society OR POL_S 430 The Politics of Natural Resource & Environmental Policy
    • SOE 315 Water & Earth OR NATRS 460 Watershed Management
  4. Earth Science core classes
    • Physical Geology (SOE 102)
    • Minerology & Crystallography (SOE 350)
    • Intro Stats for Engineers STATS 370 or Statistical Methods in Research STATS 412
  5. Experiential summer field camps
    • Geology Field Camp (SOE 207)
    • Field Geology (SOE 408)
  6. Earth Science Areas of Emphasis (see advising sheet below for courses)
    • Solid Earth
    • Earth Surface Processes, Soils, and Geography
    • Water and Climate
  7. Professional electives, minor or internships that match your interests and enhance your career goals.

Earth Sciences_advising guide (pdf)

When you have completed your Earth Science major you will be able to:

  • Describe the fundamental concepts of geology, including the origin, composition, structure, and evolution of the Earth, and how the Earth system responds to internal and external forces.
  • Identify and  describe rocks, minerals, and fossils in the field, in hand samples, and under the microscope.
  • Describe and discuss geologic time, including the principles and methods of absolute and relative dating.
  • Be capable of applying field observations to the construction of geologic maps and cross sections.

Your Hands-on Experiences

With our many hands-on experiences including field trips, field camps, internships and research upon graduation you will be prepared to be an effective geologist, geochemist, exploration scientist (for petroleum, natural gas, and mineral deposits), geophysicists, paleontologist, climatologist, hydrologist, mineralogists, oceanographer or related career path.

Get hands on experience while learning and working with leading researchers and labs such as:

Your Career Options in Earth Sciences

  • Exploration geoscientist
  • Petroleum or mining geologist
  • Geochemist
  • Geophysicist
  • Paleontologist
  • Oceanographer
  • Climatologist
  • Hydrologist
  • Mineralogist
  • Planetary geologist
  • Volcanologist

More Careers and Opportunities

Geology Club

The Geology Club provides the opportunity for students who are interested in geological sciences to learn local & regional geology, to interact among students, faculty, and industry leaders, and to involve relationship development among students, faculty and members of the community.

Activities include field trips, attending lectures/seminars of interest, scientific demonstrations and Rock & Mineral Sale during the Dad’s and Mom’s Weekends, and monthly club meeting.

If you are interested in joining the Geology Club, please e-mail