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College of Arts & Sciences
School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment


Undergraduate Degrees

The School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment (SEOE) seeks to educate students on the importance of the ever changing earth and how, when we engage the science and social policies behind the mysteries of the earth and the environment, we discover through exploration and research the impacts of those changes on our lives and the world around us. Through our undergraduate majors in Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Marine Science, Geological Sciences and Geophysics, we can help our current and future societies understand and adapt to these changes.


BS in Geological Sciences; BS in Geophysics

The SEOE offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Geological Sciences (the study of the dynamics and physical history of the Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and its physical, chemical, and biological changes) and Geophysics (the branch of geology that deals with the physics of the earth, including oceanography, seismology, volcanology, and geomagnetism). We are one of only two institutions in the southeastern U.S. that offers a Geophysics undergraduate major degree.

Both majors can be completed within four years. We have a large and diverse faculty with broad scientific expertise, so whether you want to focus on earthquakes, volcanoes, groundwater, climate change, or the coastal oceans, you will find someone in our department who shares your interests. If you are interested in fulfilling your pre-med, pre-health, or pre-law requirements and get a degree that can also offer you employment choices down the road, then consider Earth Sciences.


BS in Marine Science

The BS in Marine Science (as opposed to Marine Biology) offers a holistic approach to the study of the oceans.  Interdisciplinary in nature, the degree draws upon subject matter in many different fields of scientific endeavor, including Geology, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Environmental, Physics, Engineering, Environmental Health and Social Sciences be combined into an individually-tailored curriculum. One cannot trulyl understand the organisms which live in the ocean without fully understanding their unique ocean environment.  

Marine Science majors take a series of core courses covering the geological, biological, chemical and physical areas of oceanography, and then choose upper-level major courses to tailor the degree to their specific interests.  Students may choose to specialize in biological, chemical, geological or physical oceanography or coastal resource management/marine affairs and have specific Areas of Emphasis listed on their transcripts upon graduation.


BS in Environmental Science; BA in Environmental Studies

The Environmental Studies degree emphasizes the Social Sciences and Humanities, compared to the greater science and technology focus of the Environmental Science degree. Like two sides of the same coin, these interdisciplinary degree programs complement each other and examine similar environmental concerns through different approaches.

The BS in Environmental Science curriculum is designed to give students a strong scientific background while allowing them the flexibility to choose courses that address their specific interests. This interdisciplinary curriculum can include courses from the Environment, Geology, Biology, Chemistry, Marine Science, Mathematics, Economics, Political Science, Physics, Engineering, and Environmental Health Science to create an individually-tailored curriculum. Environmental Science majors may choose to specialize in climate systems, energy and infrastructure, natural systems, health and environment, water resources, or other specialties according to their individual interests.

The BA in Environmental Studies degree incorporates critical social, economic, policy, communications, and/or humanities components that are not within the BS degree. The curriculum prepares students to address complex environmental problems requiring knowledge and understanding from multiple social and science disciplines that are framed in an environmental context. Students learn to make sound analyses and judgments about interdisciplinary environmental challenges, and to seek and develop sustainable solutions that productively integrate social and economic needs with scientific and technical understanding.  Environmental Studies majors may combine coursework in Sustainability, Anthropology, Political Science, Geography, History, Economics, Business, Media Arts, and Journalism to create an individually-tailored curriculum relative to their career goals.

Impending environmental challenges include climate change, increasing drought and other extreme weather events and their impacts on infrastructure and food, energy and water supply, loss of biodiversity, increases in infectious disease, and invasive species. Environmental scientists may find themselves conducting field research to quantify such issues, while Environmental Studies majors may use their skills to incorporate that data into policy, advocacy, and sustainable business practices.