University of Southern California

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Earth Sciences

Undergraduate Degrees

Department Major Requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Geological Sciences

Required courses Units
Introduction: Any one of (4 units):
GEOL 105L Planet Earth 4
GEOL 107L Oceanography 4
GEOL 108L Crises of a Planet 4
GEOL 125L Earth History: A Planet and its Evolution 4
GEOL 130L The Nature of Scientific Inquiry 4
GEOL 150L Climate Change 4
GEOL 240L Earthquakes 4

Required (12 units):
GEOL 315L Minerals and Earth Systems 4
GEOL 387a Undergraduate Team Research 2
GEOL 465 Field Geology, or
GEOL 490x Directed Research 4
GEOL 494x Senior Thesis 2

Electives: choose at least seven of the following (28 units)*:
BISC 427 The Global Environment 4
BISC 474 Ecosystem Function and Earth Systems 4
BISC 483 Geobiology and Astrobiology 4
GEOL 316L Petrologic Systems 4
GEOL 320L Surficial Processes and Stratigraphic Systems 4
GEOL 321L Structural Geology and Tectonics 4
GEOL 387bc Undergraduate Team Research 2-2
GEOL 412 Oceans, Climate, and the Environment 4
GEOL 425L Data Analysis in the Earth and Environmental Sciences 4
GEOL 433L Paleontology and Evolution in Deep Time 4
GEOL 440L Geophysics and Geoengineering 4
GEOL 450L Geosystems 4
GEOL 460L Geochemistry 4
GEOL 470 Environmental Hydrogeology 4
MATH 225 Linear Algebra and Linear Differential Equations 4
MATH 226 Calculus III 4

*Up to two upper-division courses from other science departments may be substituted for any two in this group, on approval of the departmental undergraduate adviser.

Required courses from other departments (24 units):
CHEM 105aLbL General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115aLbL Advanced General Chemistry 4-4
MATH 125 Calculus I 4
MATH 126 Calculus II 4
PHYS 135abL Physics for the Life Sciences, or
PHYS 151L Fundamentals of Physics I: Mechanics and Thermodynamics, and 4-4
PHYS 152L Fundamentals of Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism, or
BISC 120Lx General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution, and 4-4
BISC 220L General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology, or
BISC 121L Advanced General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution, and 4-4
BISC 221L Advanced General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology 4-4
Total units 68

Department Major Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts in Earth Sciences

Required courses Units
Introduction: any one of (4 units):
GEOL 105L Planet Earth 4
GEOL 107L Oceanography 4
GEOL 108L Crises of a Planet 4
GEOL 125L Earth History: A Planet and its Evolution 4
GEOL 130L The Nature of Scientific Inquiry 4
GEOL 150L Climate Change 4
GEOL 240L Earthquakes 4

Required:
GEOL 315L Minerals and Earth Systems 4

Electives: choose at least seven of the following (28 units):
BISC 427 The Global Environment 4
BISC 474 Ecosystem Function and Earth Systems 4
BISC 483 Geobiology and Astrobiology 4
GEOL 316L Petrologic Systems 4
GEOL 320L Surficial Processes and Stratigraphic Systems 4
GEOL 321L Structural Geology and Tectonics 4
GEOL 387abc Undergraduate Team Research 2-2-2
GEOL 412 Oceans, Climate, and the Environment 4
GEOL 425L Data Analysis in the Earth and Environmental Sciences 4
GEOL 433L Paleontology and Evolution in Deep Time 4
GEOL 440L Geophysics and Geoengineering 4
GEOL 450L Geosystems 4
GEOL 460L Geochemistry 4
GEOL 465 Field Geology 4
GEOL 470 Environmental Hydrogeology 4
GEOL 490x Directed Research 1–8
GEOL 494x Senior Thesis 2

Required courses in other departments (8 units):
CHEM 105aL General Chemistry 4
MATH 118x Fundamental Principles of the Calculus, or
MATH 125 Calculus I 4

Choose any one of the following (4 units):
BISC 120L General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution 4
CHEM 105bL General Chemistry 4
PHYS 135aL Physics for the Life Sciences 4
Total units 48

Undergraduate Honors Program

The department offers an honors program for students pursuing either a B.S. or a B.A. in Earth Sciences. Students wishing to participate in this program must complete GEOL 494x Senior Thesis. Honors will be awarded upon successful completion of the thesis and attainment of an overall GPA of 3.0 and a GPA of 3.5 in courses in the major.

Grade Point Average in Major Subject

A grade of C or higher is required in each course in the earth sciences courses used to complete the department or physical sciences major.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Physical Sciences

Required courses Units
Lower division:
CHEM 105aLbL General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115aLbL Advanced General Chemistry 4-4
GEOL 105L Planet Earth 4
PHYS 151L Fundamentals of Physics I: Mechanics and Thermodynamics 4
PHYS 152L Fundamentals of Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism 4
PHYS 153L Fundamentals of Physics III: Optics and Modern Physics 4

Upper division:
Astronomy elective* 4
Chemistry elective* 4
Earth Sciences elective* 4
Physics elective* 4
Three additional electives from these fields* 12

Other courses:
MATH 125 Calculus I 4
MATH 126 Calculus II 4
MATH 226 Calculus III 4
Total units: 64

*Upper-division courses must be applicable to majors in their respective departments.

Minor in Geobiology

The minor in geobiology is designed to allow students majoring in biology to incorporate interdisciplinary courses in earth sciences into their program or to allow students majoring in geology to incorporate interdisciplinary courses in biology into their program. This field represents the intersection of what have been traditional disciplines and is valuable for understanding evolution, environmental contaminant behavior and ocean sciences. Students with majors offered by biological or earth or geological sciences will be able to complete this minor with 16 to 24 units of course work beyond their major requirements. Other students may need to complete up to 48 units of course work beyond their major requirements. For example, students majoring in biological sciences might take an introductory GEOL course; GEOL 315L; GEOL 433L or BISC 483; and two additional upper-division elective courses from the list below. Students majoring in earth or geological sciences must take BISC 120L and BISC 220L; GEOL 433L or BISC 483; and three additional elective courses. Courses selected must include at least 16 units unique to the minor and at least 16 units in a department outside the major.

Required courses Units
BISC 120Lx General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution 4
BISC 220L General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology 4
CHEM 105aLbL General Chemistry 4-4
GEOL 315L Minerals and Earth Systems 4

Elective courses Units
One introductory GEOL course: GEOL 105L, GEOL 107L, GEOL 108L, GEOL 125L, GEOL 130L, GEOL 150L or GEOL 240L 4

BISC 483* Geobiology and Astrobiology, or
GEOL 433L Paleontology and Evolution in Deep Time 4
Three upper-division BISC courses** 12

Two courses from the following (8 units):
BISC 474L* Ecosystem Function and Earth Systems 4
BISC 483* Geobiology and Astrobiology 4
GEOL 320L Surficial Processes and Stratigraphic Systems 4
GEOL 412 Oceans, Climate and the Environment 4
GEOL 433L Paleontology and Evolution in Deep Time 4
GEOL 450L Geosystems 4
GEOL 460L Geochemistry 4
GEOL 470 Environmental Hydrogeology 4

*Indicates BISC course that is also cross-listed under GEOL

**Must carry credit for a biology major

Minor in Geohazards

The geohazards minor allows students who are not geology majors to pursue a course of study that will lead to greater understanding of geohazards such as climate change, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, environmental contamination and availability of natural resources. These issues are examined in a number of upper-division geology courses, and each student can select from the list below depending on the particular area of interest and whether previous course work has been completed to meet prerequisites for some of the choices. The minor requires an introductory class, an upper-division course in either formation of minerals or geosystem behavior and three elective courses from the list below. The minimum number of units to complete the minor is 24, including the introductory course CHEM 105aL (a corequisite for GEOL 315L) or MATH 125 (prerequisite for GEOL 450L) and three of the group: BISC 427, GEOL 305L, GEOL 315L, GEOL 316L, GEOL 320L, GEOL 321L, GEOL 433L and GEOL 450L. The remaining courses listed have additional prerequisites.

Required courses (8 units) UNITS
CHEM 105aL General Chemistry, and 4
GEOL 315L Minerals and Earth Systems, or 4
MATH 125 Calculus I, and 4
GEOL 450L Geosystems 4

Elective courses Units
One introductory GEOL course: GEOL 105L, GEOL 107L, GEOL 108L, GEOL 125L, GEOL 130L, GEOL 150L or GEOL 240L 4

Three of the following (12 units):
BISC 427 The Global Environment 4
GEOL 305L Introduction to Engineering Geology 4
GEOL 315L Minerals and Earth Systems 4
GEOL 316L Petrologic Systems 4
GEOL 320L Surficial Processes and Stratigraphic Systems 4
GEOL 321L Structural Geology and Tectonics 4
GEOL 412 Oceans, Climate, and the Environment 4
GEOL 433L Paleontology and Evolution in Deep Time 4
GEOL 440L Geophysics and Geoengineering 4
GEOL 450L Geosystems 4
GEOL 460L Geochemistry 4
GEOL 470 Environmental Hydrogeology 4

Progressive Degree Program in Geological Sciences

This program permits exceptional students to receive both a B.S. and M.S. in geological sciences in not more than 10 semesters. It is intended for students with ­extraordinary geological sciences preparation and performance who demonstrate a superior level of overall scholarship, including a GPA of 3.5 or better. Students may apply on completion of 64 units of course work but not later than the end of the junior year (or the completion of 96 units). The application for admission to a progressive degree program must be accompanied by an approved course plan proposal and letters of recommendation from two USC faculty members in the Department of Earth Sciences. The requirements for both the B.S. and M.S. degrees must be satisfied. Further details about progressive degree programs can be found here.