Earth Sciences (BS)
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) offers a rigorous and interdisciplinary curricula in the Earth Sciences. Students can do a major in Earth Sciences or specialize in Earth Sciences within another major (i.e. Physics, Environmental Systems).
Earth sciences encompass broad scientific study of the origin and evolution of the earth system and its life forms. The Earth Sciences major embraces a wide range of topics, including the physical and chemical evolution of the planet, the evolution of life, the causes of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, earth-surface processes, the origin and behavior of oceans and atmosphere, and the impact of humans on the environment.
Earth science investigations are increasingly quantitative and experimental, and thus most upper-division courses require a strong foundation in chemistry, physics, and mathematics.
The Earth Sciences curriculum takes advantage of the unique opportunities offered by Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Classes beyond introductory level are usually small, permitting personalized instruction. Field trips are an important part of the instructional program.
Earth sciences students are encouraged to consult with their instructors about incorporating appropriate courses and research opportunities at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography into their undergraduate curriculum.
A degree in earth sciences is an appropriate start for a broad range of career and graduate school opportunities in various areas, including research, government, state and federal survey jobs, environmental management, the petroleum and mining industries, consulting, ocean sciences, industrial institutions, elementary or secondary education, environmental policy, or environmental law.
Program advisors and faculty can provide additional information on career and graduate school opportunities.
For information on applying to UC San Diego and SIO Transfer Major Preparation see our How to Apply page.
Exceptional students in the Earth Sciences major with an interest in research are encouraged to consider the Scripps Undergraduate Honors Program.
Please note that all academic advising questions (for current students) are now handled via the Virtual Advisor.
Earth Sciences (BS) Degree Requirements
Lower-division requirements for all the specializations are designed to provide the foundations in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology that are essential in modern quantitative earth science disciplines.
All Earth Science majors take an introductory course: SIO 50, and four upper division core requirements introducing basic concepts in the Earth Sciences. SIO 100, SIO 102, SIO 103, and SIO 104.
Ideally, SIO 50, SIO 100, SIO 102, and SIO 103 should be taken during the sophomore year to provide the appropriate background for other upper-division courses.
It is strongly recommended that all Earth Science majors meet regularly with the Earth Science program academic advising staff and a faculty adviser to discuss and update curriculum choices.
Lower Division Requirements
Upper Division Requirements
Group A: Earth Science Upper-Division Core Requirements (all courses are required):
- SIO 100. Introduction to Field Methods
- SIO 102. Introduction to Geochemistry
- SIO 103. Introduction to Geophysics
- SIO 104. Paleobiology and History of Life
Group B: Upper-Division Earth Science Restricted Electives (choose at least 3 of the following)
- SIO 105. Sedimentology and Stratigraphy
- SIO 106. Introduction to Hydrogeology
- SIO 113. Introduction to Computational Earth Science
- SIO 120. Mineralogy
- SIO 141. Chemical Principles of Marine Systems
- SIO 144. Introduction to Isotope Geochemistry
- SIO 152. Petrology and Petrography
- SIO 160. Introduction to Tectonics
- SIO 162. Structural Geology
- SIO 182. Environmental and Exploration Geophysics
Group C: Upper-division restricted electives (choose at least 5 of the following):
Student many use any additional course(s) from the Earth Science Restricted Electives list (Group B, above) as an Group C elective
- SIO 101. California Coastal Oceanography
- SIO 108. Introduction to Paleoclimatology
- SIO 110. Introduction to GIS and GPS for Scientists
- SIO 111. Introduction to Waves and Tides
- SIO 115. Ice and the Climate System
- SIO 117. The Physical Basis of Global Warming
- SIO 119. Physics and Chemistry of the Oceans
- SIO 135. Satellite Remote Sensing
- SIO 138. The Coral Reef Environment
- SIO 143. Ocean Acidification
- SIO 148. Evolution of Earth’s Biosphere *
- SIO 155. Petrology and Geochemistry of the Solid Earth
- SIO 170. Introduction to Volcanology
- SIO 171. Introduction to Physical Oceanography
- SIO 172. Physics of the Atmosphere
- SIO 173. Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Climate
- SIO 180. Communicating Science to Informal Audiences
- SIO 186. Interactions between Humans and the Natural Environment
- SIO 199. Independent Study
- CHEM 173. Atmospheric Chemistry
- CHEM 120A. Inorganic Chemistry
- CHEM 127. Physical Chemistry
- CHEM 140A,B. Organic Chemistry
- CHEM 171, 172 Environmental Chemistry
- PHYSICS 100A,B,C. Electromagnetism
- PHYSICS 105A,B. Mathematical and Computational Physics
- PHYSICS 110A,B. Mechanics
- PHYSICS 121. Experimental Techniques
- MAE 131A. Solid Mechanics I
Career Track examples with restricted electives
The Earth Sciences curriculum is designed to be flexible and can be tailored to student interests and needs in consultation with academic and faculty advisors. The following are suggested career paths for graduate school and/or employment in sub-disciplines of Earth Sciences. NOTE: These recommendations are intended to guide students in concert with academic and faculty advising. They are not requirements -the only formal requirements for the major are listed above.
- Career Track: Geology
Faculty Advisor: Geoff Cook, Assistant Teaching Professor, Geosciences Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, firstname.lastname@example.org
Recommended electives for students with an interest in geological aspects of the Earth:
SIO 105. Sedimentology and Stratigraphy SIO 110. Introduction to GIS and GPS for Scientists SIO 120. Mineralogy SIO 152. Petrology and Petrography SIO 160. Introduction to Tectonics SIO 162. Structural Geology SIO 170. Introduction to Volcanology SIO 182. Environmental and Exploration Geophysics In addition, students should complete at least one quarter of a SIO199 research topic coordinated with an SIO Earth Sciences faculty.
- Career Track: Geophysics
Faculty Advisor: Dave Stegman, Professor, Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, email@example.com
Recommended electives and additional lower division preparation for students with an interest in the mechanical, dynamical and thermodynamical aspects of the Earth:SIO 105. Sedimentology and Stratigraphy SIO 111. Introduction to Waves and Tides
NOTE: Geophysics is a highly quantitative field. Interested student should prepare for upper-division electives and work in the field with additional lower-division prerequisites:Physics 4 series (4A-E) recommended OR Physics 2 series with Physics 2D, 2BL, 2CL Math 20E. Vector Calculus Math 20F. Linear Algebra CSE 5A. Introduction to Programming OR any other C or FORTRAN programming course
- Career Track: Environmental Geochemistry
Faculty Advisor: Katherine Barbeau, Professor, Geosciences Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, firstname.lastname@example.org
Recommended electives for students with an interest in the study of the chemical, physical, geological and biological processes and reactions that govern the composition of the natural environment:SIO 105. Sedimentology and Stratigraphy SIO 117. The Physical Basis of the Climate System SIO 141. Chemical Principles of Marine Systems
Students are advised to gain experience with common chemistry laboratory techniques. Suitable classes include CHEM 7L (General Chemistry Laboratory), Chem 100B (Fundamentals of Instrumental Analysis and Chem 100BL (Instrumental Analysis Laboratory), and CHEM 143A (Organic Chemistry Laboratory).
Students should additionally complete at least one quarter of SIO 199: Independent Research, coordinated with an SIO or Chemistry faculty.
- Career Track: Solid Earth Geochemistry
Faculty Advisor: Miriam Kastner, Professor, Geosciences Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, email@example.com
Recommended electives for students with an interest in the focus on the Earth as a chemical system and on its evolution:SIO 120. Mineralogy SIO 144. Introduction to Isotope Geochemistry
Students are advised to gain experience with common chemistry laboratory techniques. Suitable classes include CHEM 7L (Introductory Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory), CHEM 100A (Analytical Chemistry Laboratory), CHEM 100B (Instrumental Analysis Laboratory), and CHEM 143A (Organic Chemistry Laboratory). Students should additionally complete at least one quarter of SIO 199: Independent Research, coordinated with an Earth Sciences or Chemistry faculty.
- Career Track: Marine Science/Oceanography
Faculty Advisor: TBN
Earth Sciences majors with an interest in Marine Sciences should consider the academic minor in Marine Sciences as a complement to the Earth Sciences major. Alternatively, student might choose from the following recommended electives within the Earth Sciences major:
SIO 105. Sedimentology and Stratigraphy SIO 141. Chemical Principles of Marine Systems SIO 144. Introduction to Isotope Geochemistry SIO 101. California Coastal Oceanography SIO 111. Introduction to Waves and Tides SIO 115. Ice and the Climate System SIO 117. The Physical Basis of Global Warming SIO 138. The Coral Reef Environment SIO 148. Evolution of Earth’s Biosphere
- Career Track: Earth Sciences Education
Faculty Advisor: John Czworkowski, Lecturer, Science Education Minor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, firstname.lastname@example.org
An Earth Sciences major is good preparation for students who are considering K-12 science education and/or public education and outreach as a career. Students with these interests should consider the academic minor in science education, offered through the Department of Education Studies, as a complement to the Earth Sciences major.
Recommended Electives: SIO 180. Communicating Science to Informal Audiences