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Major: Science of Earth Systems

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Offered by: Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

2124 Snee Hall, 255.5466,

Program Objectives

The SES program is intrinsically interdisciplinary, involving many branches of science and engineering. It is unique in that it incorporates the fundamentals of Earth Science with the emergence of a new and more complete approach that encompasses all components of the earth system—air, life, rock, and water—to gain a new and more comprehensive understanding of the world as we know it. By analyzing the complex relations between the ocean, solid earth, atmosphere and biosphere, students can help meet society’s growing demand for energy, minerals, and clean water, as well as contribute to mitigating the negative impacts related to global warming, rising sea level, natural hazards, and decreasing biodiversity.

Common Curriculum

  • CHEM 2090: Engineering General Chemistry
  • CHEM 2080: General Chemistrya

Engineering Distributions


Required Major Courses

  • EAS 2200: The Earth Systemc
  • One biology course selected from the following:
    • BIOG 1140: Foundations of Biology
    • BIOEE 1610: Ecology and the Environment
    • BIOEE 1780: Evolutionary Biology and Diversity
    • BIOSM 1610: Ecology and the Marine Environment
    • BIOSM 1780: Evolution and Marine Diversity
  • One Advisor-approved course in statistics, computer science, math, or natural scienceb,f

Three courses selected from the following core courses:

  • EAS 3010: Evolution of the Earth System
  • EAS 3030: Introduction to Biogeochemistry
  • EAS 3040: Interior of the Earth
  • EAS 3050: Climate Dynamics

Field Course (at least 3 credits):

Examples include:

  • EAS 2500: Meteorological Observations and Instruments
  • EAS 3400: Field Study of the Earth System (given as part of the Cornell University Earth and Environmental Systems Field Program in Hawaii)
  • EAS 4170: Field Mapping in Argentina
  • A course at Shoals Marine Laboratory

Concentration Courses

The concentration courses build depth and provide the student with a specific expertise in some facet of earth system science. Four concentrations are defined for the Major: atmospheric sciences, biogeochemistry, geological sciences, and ocean sciences. In concert with the student’s advisor and upon approval of the SES curriculum committee, other concentrations can be tailored to a student’s interest. Examples include mathematical geosciences, geohydrology, and planetary science. The concentration is achieved by completing four intermediate- to advanced-level courses (3000 level or above) that build on the core courses and have prerequisites in the required basic sciences and mathematics courses. These courses must be approved by the student’s advisor and the director of undergraduate studies. Two of the concentration courses count as Major-required courses and two of the concentration courses count as Major-approved electives.


  • One Major-approved elective at the 3000 level or above. This course must be approved by the student’s advisor.
  • Three outside Major Electives. These courses must be approved by the student’s advisor. Two approved electives.



  1. Students may substitute CHEM 1570 or PHYS 2214 for CHEM 2080.
  2. If a student elects to count CS 1110 (or CS 1112, or CS 1114, or 1115) as their Major-required, Advisor-approved course in statistics, computer science, math, or natural science, an additional Major-approved elective is required.
  3. If a student elects to count EAS/ENGRD 2200 as an ENGRD, an additional Major-approved elective is required. Please note: only the spring offering of EAS 2200 counts as an ENGRD.
  4. In addition to the First-year Writing Seminars, a technical writing Course must be taken as an engineering distribution, liberal studies, approved elective, or Major course.
  5. One of the following courses must be selected: BIOG 1140, BIOEE 1610, BIOEE 1780, BIOSM 1610, or BIOSM 1780.
  6. An Advisor-approved course in statistics or computer science, or an additional Advisor approved course in mathematics or natural science, including, but not limited to, a course in astronomy, a second course in biology, or an additional course in physics or chemistry is required.
  7. Three of the following core courses must be selected: EAS 3010, EAS 3030, EAS 3040, or EAS 3050
  8. The Major program includes nine (9) credits of courses outside the Major.