What is Earth and atmospheric science?

A volcano erupts in Hawaii, earthquakes hit the United States and islands in the Caribbean, and climate change results in changes to coastlines everywhere. Scientists in our discipline assess the impact of these situations in order to measure damage, build predictive models, and better understand connections among oceans, land mass, and atmosphere. We evaluate the human response to weather-related events and describe environmental practices that address such issues as groundwater remediation, climate change, renewable energy, and environmental microbiology.

Earth and atmospheric scientists are curious about the Earth. Stewards of the Earth’s resources and natural processes, they study its soils, oceans, atmosphere, and lands.

Geologists develop land-use plans, explore other planets and the solar system, determine environmental impacts, and find new sources of useful Earth materials.

Geoscientists study the past, present, and future of the Earth. Through the integration of basic chemical, physical, and biological principles, they seek to understand how the Earth was formed, how it has evolved in the past, and how it may change in both the near and distant future.

Gain skills employers want

Our programs are designed to give you a wide breadth of geoscience knowledge and translatable skills to prepare you for a variety of careers. We attract students who seek careers in teaching, industry, research laboratories, federal and state geological surveys, and more.

Interested in teaching at the secondary school level? Our program teaches you to communicate a general knowledge of geology and atmospheric sciences, preparing you to teach in several science fields.

Learn more about career preparation

Our degree programs

You have several degree options in our department, including an Atmospheric Science B.S. degree, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences B.A. degree, Earth Science B.S. degree, Environmental Geoscience B.S. degree, Earth Science B.S./Secondary Education M.S., Atmospheric Sciences certificate, or a minor.

You can also opt to pursue a B.S. in Environmental Sciences (BSES), a joint program between the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Public and Environmental Affairs.