Mar 29, 2023  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog

Earth Sciences, B.S

Earth science is an interdisciplinary, applied science that explains how Earth’s interior, surface, and atmospheric processes operate in interconnected ways with each other and with life on spatial scales from microscopic to global and on temporal scales from fractions of a second to millions of years. Thus, the Earth sciences must be approached in an interdisciplinary manner in both the classroom and the field. The B.S. in Earth sciences includes a set of core courses that provide the student with the necessary background in geology, chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics and field techniques. Specializations in geology, geophysics, and environmental and resource sciences, and unique student-designed concentrations established with faculty approval near completion of the core, are available. The B.S. in Earth sciences pairs well with majors and minors across the university and provides a strong science-based major for those pursuing graduate work in the sciences and professional Earth science employment opportunities.

SMU Degree Requirements

An SMU undergraduate degree requires a minimum of 120 credit hours and must include completion of the University’s Common Curriculum , one major and a combination of electives and/or other majors or minors. Completion of certain majors requires more than 120 hours to finish the degree. The credit hours within this curriculum are distributed as follows:

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 60 credit hours with at least 30 credit hours in the Earth sciences. The number of support courses and total number of credit hours will depend on the specialization.

Environmental and Resource Sciences Specialization (27-30 Credit Hours)

Geology Specialization (27 Credit Hours)

Geophysics Specialization (28 Credit Hours)

Elective Courses (12 Credit Hours)

Four advanced elective courses, distributed as follows:


A minimum of six credit hours of additional advanced elective courses at the 3000 level and above in geophysics, from the following:

Earth Sciences

A minimum of three credit hours of advanced elective courses, chosen from the following:

Self-Designated Concentration (27 Credit Hours)

A minimum of 27 credit hours of additional advanced elective courses from Earth sciences , anthropology , biological sciences , and/or chemistry , not to exceed 12 credit hours outside of Earth sciences. The concentration plan must be approved by the department academic advisor at least one academic year prior to expected graduation.

Total for the Major Only: 60-64 Credit Hours


  • Experience with a modern scientific computing language and geographic information systems is essential and can be gained in a course such as GEOL 3359 - Computer Methods in Earth Sciences .
  • The requirements for the Earth sciences major are considered minimal. Students planning careers in the Earth sciences should take additional coursework according to the geoscience emphasis that best fits their goals. Students should consult a faculty adviser for suggestions.
  • B.S. students in Earth sciences who plan to pursue a graduate degree in Earth or environmental science are strongly encouraged to complete a minor in an allied field (mathematics , biology , chemistry , physics  or anthropology ).