Photo of EPS classroom

Above: Freshmen answer questions in Miaki Ishi's class, GeoSciFi Movies: Real vs. Fiction.

Harvard offers outstanding opportunities for students who wish to pursue studies in Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS). Students may focus on geological science, environmental geoscience, solid earth geophysics, geochemistry, geobiology, atmospheric and ocean science, and planetary science.

Why Study Earth and Planetary Sciences?

Incorporating biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, mathematics, and the Earth sciences, the EPS concentration prepares students to address some of the most pressing issues of our time. As never before, we must understand the consequences of human activities for the Earth’s atmosphere, the oceans, the solid Earth, and the organisms that live on it. Exploring, extracting, and conserving natural resources are vital to the global economy. We must mitigate the effects of earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, and severe weather by learning to predict their time and place.

As a result, opportunities in Earth and planetary sciences are diverse, spanning the private, government, and academic sectors. Government service includes research and administration in NASA, the EPA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency, the US Geological Survey, and many other agencies and departments. Earth scientists work for oil and mineral exploration and production companies. There also are abundant opportunities in the academic world, and for entrepreneurs who build companies specializing in environmental needs.

Check out the slides and recording of our spring 2021 Exploring Fields of Study event for more information!

Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard

The research environment of the department is an unparalleled resource for undergraduate education. Concentrators may work with faculty and graduate students on major research projects as a research or field assistant, in the context of course work, or as part of an undergraduate research project. Class sizes are small and student-professor contact is frequent and informal. Many students complete their studies with a senior thesis that affords the opportunity to do original research under the guidance of department faculty.

Learning experiences outside of the classroom are an integral and exciting component of the undergraduate experience. Students can participate in faculty-led field trips to places such as Hawai’i and the Canadian Rockies; in addition many EPS courses offer local trips to study Earth and planetary concepts first-hand.  Student positions in labs as research assistants or lab technicians are also available. Please see the Undergraduate Research Opportunities page.