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School of Earth Sciences

Courses offered by the School of Earth Sciences are listed under the subject code EARTHSCI on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site. Courses offered by departments and programs of the school are linked on their separate sections, and are available at the ExploreCourses web site.

The School of Earth Sciences includes the departments of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Geophysics, Energy Resources Engineering (formerly Petroleum Engineering), and Environmental Earth System Science; and two interdisciplinary programs: the Earth Systems undergraduate and co-terminal M.S. program and the Emmett Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER). The Earth Systems Program and E-IPER offer study in biophysical and social dimensions of environment and resources.

The aims of the school are:

  1. to prepare students for careers in the fields of biogeochemistry, climate science, energy resource engineering, environmental science, geology, geochemistry, geomechanics, geophysics, geostatistics, hydrogeology, land science, oceanography, petroleum engineering, and petroleum geology
  2. to conduct research in the Earth sciences
  3. to provide opportunities for Stanford undergraduates to learn about the planet's history, to understand the energy and resource base that supports humanity, to appreciate the geological and geophysical hazards that affect human societies, and to understand the challenges and solutions related to the environment and sustainability.

To accomplish these objectives, the school offers a variety of programs adaptable to the needs of the individual student:

  • four-year undergraduate programs leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
  • five-year programs leading to the coterminal Bachelor of Science and Master of Science (M.S.)
  • graduate programs offering the degrees of Master of Science, Engineer, and Doctor of Philosophy.

Details of individual degree programs are found in the section for each department or program.

Undergraduate Programs in Earth Sciences

Any undergraduate admitted to the University may declare a major in one of the Earth Science departments or programs by contacting the appropriate department or program office.

Requirements for the B.S. degree are listed in each department or program section. Departmental academic advisers work with students to define a career or academic goal and assure that the student's curricular choices are appropriate to the pursuit of that goal. Advisers can help devise a sensible and enjoyable course of study that meets degree requirements and provides the student with opportunities to experience advanced courses, seminars, and research projects. To maximize such opportunities, students are encouraged to complete basic science and mathematics courses in high school or during their freshman year.

The Earth Systems Program offers an honors program in Environmental Science, Technology, and Policy through the Woods Institute for the Environment.

Coterminal Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Earth Sciences

The Stanford coterminal degree plan enables an undergraduate to embark on an integrated program of study leading to the master's degree before requirements for the bachelor's degree have been completed. This may result in more expeditious progress towards the advanced degree than would otherwise be possible, making the program especially important to Earth scientists because the master's degree provides an excellent basis for entry into the profession. The coterminal plan permits students to apply for admission to a master's program after earning 120 units, but no later than the quarter prior to the expected completion of the undergraduate degree.

Under the plan, the student may meet the degree requirements in the more advantageous of the following two ways: by first completing the 180 units required for the B.S. degree and then completing the three quarters required for the M.S. degree; or by completing a total of 15 quarters during which the requirements for the two degrees are completed concurrently. In either case, the student has the option of receiving the B.S. degree upon meeting all the B.S. requirements or of receiving both degrees at the end of the coterminal program. Students earn degrees in the same department or program, in two different departments, or even in different schools; for example, a B.S. in Physics and an M.S. in Geological and Environmental Sciences. Students are encouraged to discuss the coterminal program with their advisers during their junior year. Additional information is available in the individual department offices.

University requirements for the coterminal M.A. are described in the "Coterminal Bachelor's and Master's Degrees" section of this bulletin. For University coterminal degree program rules and University application forms, see the Publications and Online Guides web site. 

Graduate Programs in Earth Sciences

Admission to the Graduate Program

A student who wishes to enroll for graduate work in the school must be qualified for graduate standing in the University and also must be accepted by one of the school's four departments or one of the two interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs. One requirement for admission is submission of scores on the verbal and quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Exam. Admission to one department of the school does not guarantee admission to other departments.

Faculty Adviser

Upon entering a graduate program, the student should report to the head of the department or program who arranges with a member of the faculty to act as the student's adviser. Alternatively, in several of the departments, advisers are established through student-faculty discussions prior to admission. The student, in consultation with the adviser(s), then arranges a course of study for the first quarter and ultimately develops a complete plan of study for the degree sought.

Financial Aid

Detailed information on scholarships, fellowships, and research grants is available from the school's individual departments and programs. Applications should be filed by the various dates listed in the application packet for awards that become effective in Autumn Quarter of the following academic year.

Dean: Pamela A. Matson

Associate Dean, Academic Affairs: Stephan A. Graham

Associate Dean, Multicultural Affairs: Jerry M. Harris

Assistant Dean, Academic Affairs: Roni Holeton

Assistant Dean, Multicultural Affairs: Tenea M. Nelson

Lecturers: Sara Cina, Richard Nevle, Jennifer Saltzman

Courses

EARTHSCI 1. Current Research in the Earth and Environmental Sciences. 1 Unit.

Primarily for freshmen and sophomores. An introduction to faculty and research areas in the School of Earth Sciences, including biogeochemistry, oceanography, paleobiology, geophysics, tectonics, geostatistics, soil science, hydrogeology, energy resources, earth surface processes, geochronology, volcanoes and earthquakes, and remote sensing. May be repeated for credit.

EARTHSCI 5. Geokids: Earth Sciences Education. 1 Unit.

Service learning through the Geokids program. Eight weeks of supervised teaching to early elementary students about Earth sciences. Hands-on teaching strategies for science standards-based instruction.

EARTHSCI 100. Research Preparation for Undergraduates. 1 Unit.

For undergraduates planning to conduct research during the summer with faculty in the School of Earth Sciences. Readings, oral presentations, proposal development. May be repeated for credit.

EARTHSCI 117. Earth Sciences of the Hawaiian Islands. 4 Units.

Progression from volcanic processes through rock weathering and soil-ecosystem development to landscape evolution. The course starts with an investigation of volcanic processes, including the volcano structure, origin of magmas, physical-chemical factors of eruptions. Factors controlling rock weathering and soil development, including depth and nutrient levels impacting plant ecosystems, are explored next. Geomorphic processes of landscape evolution including erosion rates, tectonic/volcanic activity, and hillslope stability conclude the course. Methods for monitoring and predicting eruptions, defining spatial changes in landform, landform stability, soil production rates, and measuring biogeochemical processes are covered throughout the course. This course is restricted to students accepted into the Earth Systems of Hawaii Program.
Same as: EARTHSYS 117, EESS 117.

EARTHSCI 191. GES Field Trips. 1 Unit.

Four- to seven-day field trips to locations of geologic and environmental interest. Includes trips offered during Thanksgiving and Spring breaks. May be repeated for credit. See http://pangea.stanford.edu/GES/undergraduates/courses/.
Same as: GES 191.

EARTHSCI 193. Natural Perspectives: Geology, Environment, and Art. 1 Unit.

Multi-day field trip that combines exploration of regional geology, ecology, and environmental history with guided drawing exercises. We¿ll visit several sites of geologic and environmental interest, discuss their formation and significance, and use drawing as tool for close observation. Students will gain an understanding of the natural processes shaping California, acquire new skills and techniques for artistic expression, and gain an appreciation for how scientific and aesthetic perspectives complement and enhance one another in the study of nature. No previous scientific or artistic experience is required.

EARTHSCI 200. Professional Development in Earth Science Education. 1 Unit.

For graduate students who wish to gain experience for careers in teaching and mentoring. May be repeated for credit.

EARTHSCI 201. Earth Science Course Enhancement. 3 Units.

For graduate students working in collaboration with a faculty member to develop and improve activities for courses within the School of Earth Sciences. Weekly meetings to discuss pedagogical strategies and give feedback on activities. May be repeated for credit.

EARTHSCI 211. Introduction to Programming for Scientists and Engineers. 3 Units.

Basic usage of the Python and C/C++ programming languages are introduced and used to solve representative computational problems from various science and engineering disciplines. Software design principles including time and space complexity analysis, data structures, object-oriented design, decomposition, encapsulation, and modularity are emphasized. Usage of campus wide Linux compute resources: login, file system navigation, editing files, compiling and linking, file transfer, etc. Versioning and revision control, software build utilities, and the LaTeX typesetting software are introduced and used to help complete individual programming assignments and a final project. Prerequisite: Some previous experience with programming (does not need to be a formal course in programming).
Same as: CME 211.

EARTHSCI 214. Software Design in Modern Fortran for Scientists and Engineers. 3 Units.

This course introduces software design and development in modern Fortran. Course covers the functional, object-oriented-, and parallel programming features introduced in the Fortran 95, 2003, and 2008 standards, respectively, in the context of numerical approximations to ordinary and partial differential equations; introduces object-oriented design and design schematics based on the Unified Modeling Language (UML) structure, behavior, and interaction diagrams; cover the basic use of several open-source tools for software building, testing, documentation generation, and revision control. Recommended: Familiarity with programming in Fortran 90, basic numerical analysis and linear algebra, or instructor approval
Same as: CME 214.

EARTHSCI 218. Communicating Science. 3 Units.

For undergraduates and graduate students interested in teaching science in local schools. Inquiry-based science teaching methods. How to communicate scientific knowledge and improve presentations. Six weeks of supervised teaching in a local school classroom. Prerequisite: course in introductory biology, geology, chemistry, or marine sciences.

EARTHSCI 219. OPINION WRITING IN THE SCIENCES. 1 Unit.

Part exposition, part reflection, part synthesis, research-driven opinion writing can be found everywhere from the op-ed pages of daily newspapers, to the commentary sections of journals such as Nature and Science, to the sort of wide-ranging reviews found in the New York Review of Books. In this course, advanced doctoral students will study the form, and work with the instructors to develop a publication-quality opinion essay on an aspect of their own field. Admission is limited and by application only. Contact thayden@stanford.edu.

EARTHSCI 251. Negotiation. 3 Units.

Students learn to prepare for and conduct negotiations in a variety of arenas including getting a job, managing workplace conflict, negotiating transactions, and managing personal relationships. Interactive class. The internationally travelled instructor who has mediated cases in over 75 countries will require students to negotiate real life case studies and discuss their results in class. Application required before first day of class; see Coursework.
Same as: CEE 151, CEE 251.

EARTHSCI 300. Earth Sciences Seminar. 1 Unit.

Required for incoming graduate students except coterms. Research questions, tools, and approaches of faculty members from all departments in the School of Earth Sciences. Goals are: to inform new graduate students about the school's range of scientific interests and expertise; and introduce them to each other across departments and research groups. Panel discussions or faculty member presentations at each meeting. May be repeated for credit.

EARTHSCI 310. Computational Geosciences Seminar. 1 Unit.

Weekly lectures focusing on high-performance computing in geoscientific research by experts from academia, national laboratories, industry, and doctoral students. May be repeated for credit.

EARTHSCI 320. Methods of High-Performance Computing in GeoSciences. 1 Unit.

Workshop consisting of 8 lectures addressing topics necessary for high-performance computing research on the CEES cluster in the School of Earth Sciences. In addition to attending lectures students will be required to complete a short project related to high-performance computing.

EARTHSCI 400. Directed Research. 3 Units.

Independent research for graduate student projects.

EARTHSCI 401. Curricular Practical Training. 1 Unit.

Curricular Practical Training.