Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree with a Major in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences

Program Learning Outcomes for the BA Degree with a Major in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences

Upon completing the BA degree with a major in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of how the Earth, and also terrestrial planetary systems, operate over geologic and modern timescales.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to make and record observations in the field, and to analyze and interpret these data in the context of the geologic history.
  3. Demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to evaluate published research in the Earth, Environmental and Planetary sciences.

Requirements for the BA Degree with a Major in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences

For general university requirements, see Graduation Requirements. Students pursuing the BA degree with a major in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences must complete:

  • A minimum of 20 courses (60-63 credit hours, depending on course selection) to satisfy major requirements.
  • A minimum of 120 credit hours to satisfy degree requirements.
  • A minimum of 9 courses (31 credit hours) taken at the 300-level or above.

The courses listed below satisfy the requirements for this major. In certain instances, courses not on this official list may be substituted upon approval of the major’s academic advisor, or where applicable, the department's Director of Undergraduate Studies. (Course substitutions must be formally applied and entered into Degree Works by the major's Official Certifier.) Students and their academic advisors should identify and clearly document the courses to be taken.

Summary

Total Credit Hours Required for the Major in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences60-63
Total Credit Hours Required for the BA Degree with a Major in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences120

Degree Requirements

Core Requirements
MATH 101SINGLE VARIABLE CALCULUS I3
or MATH 105 AP/OTH CREDIT IN CALCULUS I
MATH 102SINGLE VARIABLE CALCULUS II3
or MATH 106 AP/OTH CREDIT IN CALCULUS II
CHEM 121GENERAL CHEMISTRY I 13
or CHEM 111 AP/OTH CREDIT IN GENERAL CHEMISTRY I
CHEM 123GENERAL CHEMISTRY LABORATORY I 11
or CHEM 113 AP/OTH CREDIT IN GENERAL CHEMISTRY LAB I
CHEM 122GENERAL CHEMISTRY II 13
or CHEM 112 AP/OTH CREDIT IN GENERAL CHEMISTRY II
CHEM 124GENERAL CHEMISTRY LABORATORY II 11
or CHEM 114 AP/OTH CREDIT IN GENERAL CHEMISTRY LAB II
Select 1 course from the following:3-4
THE EARTH
NATURAL DISASTERS
THE EARTH SYSTEM, ENVIRONMENT, AND SOCIETY
INHABITING PLANET EARTH
INTRODUCTION TO THE EARTH
THE SCIENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
ESCI 321EARTH AND PLANETARY SURFACE ENVIRONMENTS4
ESCI 322EARTH AND PLANETARY CHEMISTRY AND MATERIALS4
ESCI 323EARTH AND PLANETARY STRUCTURE AND DYNAMICS4
ESCI 325OCEANS, ATMOSPHERES AND CLIMATE4
ESCI 334THE EARTH LABORATORY3
Elective Requirements
Directed Electives in Fields Outside Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences
Select 2-4 courses from either Group A or Group B:6-8
Group A
Select 1 from the following:
INTRODUCTORY BIOLOGY I
and INTRODUCTORY BIOLOGY II
MECHANICS (WITH LAB)
and MECHANICS DISCUSSION
and ELECTRICITY & MAGNETISM (WITH LAB)
and ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM DISCUSSION
GENERAL PHYSICS (WITH LAB)
and GENERAL PHYSICS II (WITH LAB)
Group B
Select 2 from the following Option Categories:
Option Category - 1
Select 1 from the following:
MECHANICS (WITH LAB)
and MECHANICS DISCUSSION
GENERAL PHYSICS (WITH LAB)
ELECTRICITY & MAGNETISM (WITH LAB)
and ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM DISCUSSION
GENERAL PHYSICS II (WITH LAB)
Option Category - 2
INTERMEDIATE EXPERIMENTAL BIOSCIENCES
and INTRODUCTORY LAB IN ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION
Option Category - 3
ORDINARY DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS AND LINEAR ALGEBRA
Option Category - 4
INTRODUCTION TO ENGINEERING COMPUTATION
Directed Electives in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences
Select 4 courses from Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences departmental (ESCI) course offerings at the 300-level or above. 212
Directed Electives in Natural Science and Engineering
Select 2 courses from the School of Natural Sciences or the School of Engineering course offerings at the 200-level or above. 36
Total Credit Hours Required for the Major in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences60-63
Additional Credit Hours to Complete Degree Requirements *26-29
University Graduation Requirements *31
Total Credit Hours120

Footnotes and Additional Information

Policies for the BA Degree with a Major in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences

Transfer Credit 

For Rice University’s policy regarding transfer credit, see Transfer Credit. Some departments and programs have additional restrictions on transfer credit. The Office of Academic Advising maintains the university’s official list of transfer credit advisors on their website: https://oaa.rice.edu. Students are encouraged to meet with their academic program’s transfer credit advisor when considering transfer credit possibilities. 

Departmental Transfer Credit Guidelines 

Students pursuing the major in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences should be aware of the following departmental transfer credit guidelines:

  • Requests for transfer credit will be considered by the program director (and/or the program’s official transfer credit advisor) on an individual case-by-case basis.

Additional Information 

For additional information, please see the Earth Environmental, and Planetary Sciences major page, on the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences website: https://earthscience.rice.edu/academics/undergraduate-program/

Opportunities for the BA Degree with a Major in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences

Academic Honors

The university recognizes academic excellence achieved over an undergraduate’s academic history at Rice. For information on university honors, please see Latin Honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude) and Distinction in Research and Creative Work. Some departments have department-specific Honors awards or designations.

Undergraduate Independent Research

The department encourages, but does not require, Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences undergraduate majors to pursue independent supervised research in ESCI 481. This can also be carried out as part of the Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences Honors Thesis Program (described below), or independently with a faculty mentor.

Honors Research

Undergraduates are encouraged to embark on an undergraduate honors thesis. The purpose of the honors thesis is for students to develop and demonstrate their creative and independent research potential. Students are recommended to begin in the fall of their junior year to provide ample time for research projects to be developed, executed and written. Students are expected to enroll in at least two semesters of the course ESCI 481, spanning their senior year. Juniors who have identified a research project and mentor can also enroll in ESCI 481. Students should sign up for ESCI 481 for 3 credits.

Criteria for Participating in Undergraduate Honors Thesis Research

Requirements and Recommendations for Completing an Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Spring Semester of Junior Year

Students are encouraged to choose their honors thesis research topic during their junior year.  Each candidate should identify a faculty research advisor, and initiate independent research. The student should select a thesis committee, consisting of a faculty advisor, one member of the honors thesis committee, and one other faculty member of their choosing. By the end of their spring semester, candidates are expected to turn in a preliminary written proposal (2 pages), accompanied by a formal application, both of which will be evaluated by the honors thesis committee for consideration of acceptance into the honors thesis program in their senior year. Recommended courses:

ESCI 401SEMINAR: UNDERGRADUATE HONORS THESIS1

If they have already identified a research project by the beginning of the semester, they may also take:

ESCI 481UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH IN EARTH SCIENCE3
Fall Semester of Senior Year

Students accepted into the honors thesis program continue to develop and refine their proposed research in concert with their research advisor and thesis committee. Students participate in meetings with other honors thesis candidates to discuss basic research protocols and philosophies, and meet independently with their chosen scientific advisor, and generate data, experiments or models. Students will give oral presentations of their research proposals in public by mid-semester, in the presence of their examining committee. At the end of the semester, students must submit final versions of their proposals, describing motivation, hypothesis, methodology, and preliminary results. The honors thesis committee will evaluate the proposals, and if approved, students can continue in the honors thesis program. Required courses:

ESCI 401SEMINAR: UNDERGRADUATE HONORS THESIS1
ESCI 481UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH IN EARTH SCIENCE3
Spring Semester of Senior Year

Students continue and complete their research. A mid-semester progress report must be submitted to the thesis committee for feedback. At the end of the spring semester, students submit their final theses, and give public oral exit talks. To complete the honors thesis program, student theses must be approved by the honors thesis committee. Required courses:

ESCI 401SEMINAR: UNDERGRADUATE HONORS THESIS1
ESCI 481UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH IN EARTH SCIENCE3

Further details about the program, and expectations and criteria for the thesis proposal and final thesis can be found on the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences website (https://earthscience.rice.edu/academics/undergraduate-program/honors-thesis/).

Application Process

Students must apply and be accepted to participate in the senior honors research program. The application form can be downloaded from Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences website (https://earthscience.rice.edu/academics/undergraduate-program/honors-thesis/), and should be submitted along with an approximately two page thesis proposal at the end of the spring semester of the junior year.

Other Points of Consideration

Students who are accepted into the 'RUSP: Rice Undergraduate Scholars Program' can substitute ESCI 481 courses for semesters 2 and 3 with HONS 470 and HONS 471. However, the students will have to meet all other requirements of the honors thesis set by the department.

Additional Information 

For additional information, please see the Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences major page, on the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences website: https://earthscience.rice.edu/academics/undergraduate-program/