Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree with a Major in Earth Science

Program Learning Outcomes for the BA Degree with a Major in Earth Science

Upon completing the BA degree with a major in Earth Science, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the structure and composition of the Earth and Planets, their evolution, and changing the Earth today. 
  2. Learn basic field geological measurements and recording. 

Requirements for the BA Degree with a Major in Earth Science

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

  • A minimum of 24 courses (60-63 credit hours) to satisfy major requirements.
  • A minimum of 120-123 credit hours to satisfy degree requirements.
  • A minimum of 60 credit hours outside of major 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 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 Science60-63
Total Credit Hours Required for the BA Degree with a Major in Earth Science120-123

Degree Requirements

Core Requirements
MATH 101SINGLE VARIABLE CALCULUS I3
MATH 102SINGLE VARIABLE CALCULUS II3
Select 1 from the following:4
GENERAL CHEMISTRY I
and GENERAL CHEMISTRY LABORATORY I
HONORS CHEMISTRY I
and HONORS CHEMISTRY LABORATORY I
Select 1 from the following:4
GENERAL CHEMISTRY II
and GENERAL CHEMISTRY LABORATORY II
HONORS CHEMISTRY II
and HONORS CHEMISTRY LABORATORY II
Select 1 from the following:3-4
THE EARTH
INTRODUCTION TO THE EARTH
ESCI 321EARTH SYSTEM EVOLUTION AND CYCLES4
ESCI 322EARTH CHEMISTRY AND MATERIALS4
ESCI 323EARTH STRUCTURE AND DEFORMATION4
ESCI 324EARTH'S INTERIOR4
ESCI 334GEOLOGICAL TECHNIQUES3
Elective Requirements
Directed Electives in Fields Outside Earth Science
Select 2-4 courses from either Group A or Group B:6-8
Group A
Select 1 from the following:
INTRODUCTORY BIOLOGY
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 options:
Option 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 2
INTERMEDIATE EXPERIMENTAL BIOSCIENCES
and INTRO EXPERIMENTAL ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
Option 3
ORDINARY DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS AND LINEAR ALGEBRA
Option 4
COMPUTATION IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
INTRODUCTION TO ENGINEERING COMPUTATION
Directed Electives in Earth Science
Select 4 additional courses from departmental (ESCI) course offerings at the 300-level or above.12
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. 16
Total Credit Hours Required for the Major in Earth Science60-63
University Graduation Requirements *60
Total Credit Hours120-123

Footnotes and Additional Information 

Policies for the BA Degree with a Major in Earth Science

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: http://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 Science 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.

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

Opportunities for the BA Degree with a Major in Earth Science

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.

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 for Completing an Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Spring Semester of Junior Year

Each honors thesis candidate should choose a research topic, 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. Candidates are expected to turn in a preliminary written proposal (2 pages) at the end of their spring semester, 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. Required courses:

ESCI 401SEMINAR: UNDERGRADUATE HONORS THESIS1
ESCI 403SEMINAR: DEPARTMENT RESEARCH1

And if they have research project and mentor identified, they can 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 404SEMINAR: DEPARTMENT RESEARCH1
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 403SEMINAR: DEPARTMENT RESEARCH1
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 (earthscience.rice.edu).

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 (earthscience.rice.edu), and should be submitted along with a ~two page thesis proposal at the end of the spring semester of the junior year. Students will be informed of their acceptance into the honors thesis program before the start of the following fall semester.

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 of the honors thesis set by the department.

Other expectations, conditions, and opportunities related to carrying out an Earth Science Honors Thesis can be found on the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences website (earthscience.rice.edu).

Undergraduate Independent Research

The department encourages, but does not require, Earth Science undergraduate majors to pursue independent supervised research in ESCI 481. This can also be carried out as part of the Earth Science Honors Thesis Program.

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