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Why is Science of Earth Systems part of the College of Engineering?

For 100 years, Science of Earth Systems (as the Geological Sciences major) was part of the College of Arts and Sciences before moving to the College of Engineering in the 1970s. Science of Earth Systems majors come from the College of Agriculture and Life Science, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the College of Engineering. Science of Earth Systems uses the skills of an engineer (math, physics, chemistry, biology, computer programming, optimization, thermodynamics, etc.) and applies them to the study of the natural world through quantitative analysis of data collected and model development. The focus is on the processes occurring in the oceans, atmosphere, solid earth and the interactions of all these systems with life.

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What can I do with a Science of Earth Systems degree?

A recent survey of Science of Earth Systems graduates found that about 70% pursued graduate studies either immediately after graduation or after some years in the work force. Alumni, when asked to identify their current field, indicated geological sciences (18%), environmental or energy consulting (16%), education (13%), professional (law, finance, medicine, etc.) (13%), oceanography (11%), government or policy (7%), atmospheric or climate (4%), environmental health (4%), hydrology (4%), military (4%), planetary science (4%), and ecology (2%). Alumni who worked earned an average of $40,000-$50,000 1-3 years after graduation and $60,000-$70,000 5-7 years after graduation.

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Is the Science of Earth Systems major related to Energy Systems?

Energy Systems is a very interdisciplinary field, and you can approach the topic from many different majors. You should talk to your advisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies to determine which major is most appropriate for your interests. It is possible to build a customized concentration in Science of Earth Systems that focuses on Energy Systems in consultation with your advisor. Some Science of Earth Systems classes are part of the minor in Sustainable Energy.

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How is Science of Earth Systems different from Environmental Engineering?

There is only a little overlap between Environmental Engineering and Science of Earth Systems as the programs involve very different coursework. The Environmental Engineering core curriculum is more extensive while in Science of Earth Systems there is more flexibility to accommodate the range of interests in the major. The scale of the majors can be different: Science of Earth Systems and Environmental Engineering can both focus on local or regional environmental issues, but Science of Earth Systems also encompasses global processes (like climate change) and the full 4.5 billion years of Earth history (including paleoclimate). In addition, Environmental Engineering requires a capstone design project while Science of Earth Systems requires a field experience. The graduates from both Science of Earth Systems and Environmental Engineering have pursued similar career paths.

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How is Science of Earth Systems different from the new Environmental Science and Sustainability degree from CALS?

There is some overlap between SES and the new ESS degree (or the old SNES and NatRes degrees). SES emphasizes physical sciences more, and does not require any social science courses, while the ESS degree has a significant (1/3) component of social sciences and tends to emphasize biological sciences more.

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How many Science of Earth Systems students are there?

Between 2002 and 2012, the long term average number of graduates each year is 18 but fluctuates between about 10 and 28.

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