Earth Sciences B.A.

Major Requirements (SF State Bulletin: Degree Requirements)

Roadmap (SF State Bulletin: Roadmap)

GE Requirements (SF State Bulletin: General Education)

Major Department Website

Your major advisor answered a few questions to assist you with your first semester courses — see below.

General Information

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

We value both academic and career advising highly and so we make advising (with an assigned advisor) mandatory each semester. (To encourage advising, we place “hold” on our majors’ registration for the subsequent semester, which only an advisor can release, after advising.)

The culminating experience requires either (1) a senior project mentored by a faculty member or (2) a course (BIOL 652, “Science Education Partners in Biology”).

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.  However, Dr. Dempsey serves as the assigned advisor for most Earth Sciences B.A. students.
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?

ERTH 205 (“Techniques in Earth Sciences”) and ERTH 400 (“Earth Systems I”).

Also, for students interested in taking mostly geology courses, ERTH 420 (“Mineralogy and Petrology I”).

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, the ADT in Geology, which can easily be adapted to the Earth Sciences B.A.

[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:

  • Depending on the student’s particular area of interest in the Earth sciences, “Physical Geology” (ERTH 210) and “Physical Processes in the Atmosphere” (ERTH 260), both of which satisfy GE Areas B1 and B3, are good choices because some subsequent majors’ courses make them prerequisite.
  • Based on your mathematics pathway (which can be viewed in your Student Center), you should take one of three classes. If Pathway 2, if ready for calculus, take “Calculus I” (MATH 226*). If Pathway 2 but not ready for calculus but ready for pre-calculus, take “Pre-calculus” (MATH 199*). (Both satisfy GE Area B4 and both will satisfy a degree requirement). If Pathway 3 or 4, take MATH 197 in first semester and MATH 198 in second.
  • Chemistry I (CHEM 115*) is a good choice, too.

    *1-unit Supplemental Instruction courses (SCI) are offered for these classes as additional support. These courses can be found in the SFSU Class Schedule ( by searching for the SCI prefix.

Are there entry or prerequisite requirements for these Freshmen courses?

CHEM 115 and PHYS 111 and 220 require sufficienct scores on diagnostic examinations.

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



College of Science & Engineering Student Success Center

Services provided for: undergraduate students with College of Science and Engineering majors and minors

Services offered: academic planning, general education advising, graduation check (GE and graduation requirements), study abroad, connecting with communities, discovering campus resources

Phone: (415) 338-2816