Earth Sciences B.S.

Major department advisors answered a few questions to assist you with your first-semester class selection. 

General Information

What are some of the highlights and features to know about this major?

The culminating experience requires either:

  • A senior project or B.S. thesis research project mentored by a faculty member; or (for two of the degree’s three emphases) or
  • A 4-6 week summer field course after the senior year.
When should I first meet with my major department? As soon as possible.  Contacting us before registering for the first semester is best.  More generally, with our mandatory advising program, sometime before registration begins for the subsequent semester.
How will I be assigned to a major advisor and how do I contact them?

The Department Chair consults with the student in an initial advising session and based on the student’s interests and background, the Chair assigns the student to an appropriate advisor.

Alternatively, if the student is clearly interested in a particular emphasis then the Chair can assign the student to an advisor without the initial consultation.

Where can I find information about major advising?

For faculty names, email addresses, office hours, office locations, and phone numbers:

For name of assigned advisor or to make an appointment with the Department Chair for an initial advising session, call or email the Department of Earth & Climate Sciences office [(415) 338-2061,].

Does this major require any pre-work from me before I attend orientation or register for classes? The Department of Earth & Climate Sciences makes advising mandatory every semester, enforced by placing an “advising hold” on registration for the subsequent semester. If the hold applies to incoming new students before their first semester, they will need to contact a departmental advisor (and receive advice!) to have it released.
What should I do if my major core and/or prequisite courses are full? We will enroll any declared major, even if the course is technically full.
Is there anything else I need to know about starting in this major?

A common choice for GE Area B4 is MATH 124 (“Elementary Statistics”), but the Earth Sciences B.A. degree counts a data analysis and statistics course applied to the discipline (ERTH 505, “Quantitative Methods in Earth Sciences”) and counts either or both of MATH 199 (“Precalculus”) or MATH 226 (“Calculus I”) toward degree requirements, and both of the latter satisfy the GE Area B4 requirement, so there is usually no compelling reason to take any GE Area B4 course other than MATH 199 or 226.

Similarly, ERTH 210 and 260 satisfy the GE Area B1 and B3 requirements, so there is no need to take a course other than one of these, either of which (though not both) counts toward degree requirements.

Transfer Student Info

What upper division courses should I take in my first semester as a transfer student for this major?

For all emphases, ERTH 205 (“Techniques in Earth Sciences”) and ERTH 400 (“Earth Systems I”).

For Geology emphasis students, ERTH 420 (“Mineralogy and Petrology I”), and for other emphases, see an advisor.

Are there any prerequisites to these upper division courses for the major?

ERTH 205: an introductory-level class in geology, meteorology, or oceanography, or ERTH 400.

ERTH 400: 9 units of geosciences, earthsciences, chemistry, or physics.

ERTH 420: ERTH 210 (“Physical Geology”) and CHEM 115 (“General Chemistry Concepts”)

Are there any registration blocks or holds in the system for this major, and if so, what do I do/who do I contact to clear them? Not applicable.
Does this major have an approved Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) roadmap?

Yes, in Geology, which can be adapted to the other two emphases (Hydrology and Ocean, Weather and Climate). However, it isn’t optimal and we have begun developing customized transfer degree programs for SF State’s biggest “feeder” community colleges as optimized alternatives.

Geology (AS-T) B.S. Earth Sciences (Emphasis in Geology) [Click here for ADT Roadmap]

Geology (AS-T) B.S. Earth Sciences (Emphasis in Hydrology) [Click here for ADT Roadmap]

Geology (AS-T) B.S. Earth Sciences (Emphasis in Ocean, Weather and Climate) [Click here for ADT Roadmap]

Freshmen Student Info

Are there any courses I should take first as a Freshman to get started in this major and/or are there any lower division GE course requirements that I can take that will also count toward this major?

No particular course is absolutely crucial in the first semester, but in the first year:

  • If interested in the Geology or Hydrology emphasis of the Earth Sciences B.S., take “Physical Geology” (ERTH 210).
  • If interested in the Ocean, Weather,and Climate emphasis, take “Physical Processes in the Atmosphere” (ERTH 260). (Both courses satisfy GE Areas B1 and B3.)
  • If ready for calculus, take “Calculus I” (MATH 226). If not ready for calculus but ready for pre-calculus, take “Pre-calculus” (MATH 199). (Both satisfy GE Area B4.) If not ready for pre-calculus, take the appropriate level of algebra needed to get to the next level of math.
  • Chemistry I (CHEM 115) is a good choice, too.
Are there entry or prerequisite requirements for these Freshmen courses?

ELM examination will determine level of math readiness, though “Calculus I” (MATH 226) requires a sufficient score on a separate diagnostic readiness test. So does CHEM 115 and probably PHYS 111 and 220.

Can any of my AP or IB tests count toward requirements in this major?

AP exam (score 4 or 5)            Course

Calculus AB or BC                    Math 226, 4 units

Physics 1                                   Phys 111/112, 4 units

Physics 2                                   Phys 220/222, 4 units

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