Earth Systems Science Program

Earth Systems Science students at Fitchburg State conduct a GPS exercise.

Program Overview

The Earth Systems Science (ESS) program takes a holistic view of our world, encompassing fields of study such as geology, oceanography, meteorology, climatology, hydrogeology, and planetary science.

Rather than treat Earth as an isolated entity, the systems approach in ESS examines the effect of human activity on Earth's systems (e.g., global environmental change).

Students interested in Environmental Science are well served by our department. With the guidance of an advisor, they would select a coherent plan of ESS courses concerned with the environment, plus a foundation of relevant chemistry and biology courses.

You have the option of an ESS major or minor.

ESS and you

The faculty of the Earth and Geographic Sciences Department is committed to excellent teaching in a challenging yet cooperative atmosphere.

Students utilize scientific methods and hypothesis testing as a way of understanding the natural world. They explore the distribution and interaction of natural and human systems on global, regional, and local scales.

A large part of the learning is experiential and steeped in investigation. This teaches essential content knowledge and skills in critical thinking and problem solving.

Hands-on experiences in the laboratory and the field bring together theory and application, contribute to scholarly development, and prepare students for a range of careers.

As members of the global scientific community we value leadership, a culture of sustainability, lifelong learning and promotion of science as a way of knowing.

  • You can review a suggested four-year study plan here.

Career Opportunities

Our majors have pursued employment in Earth Systems Science-related fields, including (but not limited to):

  • Geologist
  • Seismologist
  • Hydrologist
  • Environmental Scientist/Consultant
  • Environmental health and safety coordinator
  • Forestry technician
  • Laboratory Technician
  • Atmospheric Scientist
  • Soil Scientist
  • Inventory Arborist
  • Earth Science or Geography Teacher

Many of our graduates are accepted to programs of advanced studies in graduate schools at colleges and universities throughout the country.

ESS Major

The major in Earth Systems Science provides students with fundamental concepts of earth's natural processes and the relationships among them.

Required Courses:

GEOG 1000 Earth Systems Science
GEOG 2100 - Geology
GEOG 2200 - Meteorology
GEOG 2500 - Oceanography
GEOG 2800 - Map Use
GEOG 4000 - Geographic Information System
MATH 1300 - Pre-Calculus or higher
PHYS 2300 - General Physics I
PHYS 2400 - General Physics II
BIOL 2300 - Ecology
CHEM 1300 - General Chemistry I
CHEM 1400 - General Chemistry II

Six Elective Courses:

GEOG 2000 - Astronomy or PHYS 2000 - Astronomy
GEOG 3110 - Climatology
GEOG 2400 - Introduction to Geospatial Technologies
GEOG 3120 - Computer Cartography
GEOG 3250 - Introduction to Historical Geology
GEOG 3270 - Common Rocks and Minerals
GEOG 4110 - Planetary Atmospheres
GEOG 4200 - Geomorphology
GEOG 4220 - Structural Geology
GEOG 4500 - Remote Sensing of the Environment
GEOG 4600 - Environmental Hydrogeology
GEOG 4700 - Geographic Perspectives on Conservation
GEOG 4900 - Independent Study in Geography 1, 2, 3 cr.
GEOG 4940 - Internship in Geography 3 cr.
GEOG 4950 - Internship in Geography 6 cr.
GEOG 4960 - Internship in Geography 12 cr.

(Maximum 12 credits of internship counting toward major)

ESS Minor (18 credit hours)

A student may earn a minor in Earth Systems Science by completing 18 credits of coursework including:

Required Courses

GEOG 1000 - Earth Systems Science, or GEOG 1300 - Earth, Sea, and Air
GEOG 2100 - Geology
GEOG 2500 - Oceanography

Three additional courses (chosen from the following, with at least one course at the 3000 level or above, in consultation with a minor advisor):

GEOG 2000 - Astronomy or PHYS 2000 - Astronomy
GEOG 2200 - Meteorology
GEOG 2400 - Introduction to Geospatial Technologies
GEOG 2800 - Map Use
GEOG 3110 - Climatology 3
GEOG 3120 - Computer Cartography
GEOG 3250 - Introduction to Historical Geology
GEOG 3270 - Common Rocks and Minerals
GEOG 4000 - Geographic Information System
GEOG 4110 - Planetary Science
GEOG 4200 - Geomorphology
GEOG 4220 - Structural Geology
GEOG 4500 - Remote Sensing of the Environment
GEOG 4600 - Environmental Hydrogeology
GEOG 4700 - Geographic Perspectives on Conservation

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