Earth Science involves the study of physical, chemical, and biological processes on Earth and other planets over time. We study not only rocks and minerals, but also rivers and oceans, ice and snow, and the atmosphere and climate. We are interested in the origins of the solar system, in the internal processes of planetary bodies, in the evolution of life on Earth and other planets, in understanding processes occurring on Earth today and in the distant past, and in understanding what lies ahead for the future of our planet. Earth Scientists explore, understand, and monitor the Earth to protect it and the people who live on it. Our students find employment in a wide array of professions, including law, business, policy, writing, education, medicine, science, art, and engineering.


The Department of Earth Sciences (EARS) offers much more than just classes. Undergraduate students play a vital role in cutting-edge research and everyday life. The relatively small size of the department facilitates regular access to the faculty, graduate students, research associates, postdoctoral scholars, and staff. We feel strongly that these factors make our department a unique and exceptional opportunity for outstanding students interested in undergraduate study in how our planet and greater solar system work.


THE STRETCH (EARS 45, 46, 47)

In addition to coursework, a cornerstone of being an Earth Scientist is to understand the nature of data collection and analysis. The Stretch (EARS 45, 46, 47), the department's off-campus study program, is typically taken in the fall of students' third year and provides a unique field experience traversing across the western United States. In addition, it serves as an invaluable opportunity to get exposure to cutting-edge research conducted by different faculty, research associates, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students. Much of the work on the Stretch is done in small groups, providing collaborative experience that will be valuable for virtually any post-graduation profession. This program also helps students get started with their own research careers.



A student may have academic or athletic commitments that make it difficult or impossible to participate in the Stretch. However, there are ways to complete the Earth Sciences or Environmental Earth Sciences major without the Stretch. A student may instead: 1) take three (3) other Dartmouth courses with strong field components; 2) take the Stretch as a fifth fall term;  or 3) enroll in a summer field course offered by another university and transfer the course credit(s) to Dartmouth. Students anticipating difficulty scheduling the Stretch during their junior or senior fall term should speak with the Chair or the EARS academic advisor as soon as possible to explore the range of alternative plans.



Research at Dartmouth takes many forms. The Department of Earth Sciences faculty, research associates, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students welcome undergraduate research assistants to do a wide variety of research projects. These can range from measuring element and isotope abundances on mass spectrometers to analyzing remotely-sensed data from Mars, from running sediment transport experiments in a flume tank to measuring stratigraphic sections in remote mountain ranges, from mathematical modeling of large datasets to analyzing atmospheric meteorological data, and many more. Many EARS students start working as research assistants in the Department of Earth Sciences as early as their first year at Dartmouth. In addition, Senior Honors research projects provide a chance to work independently on a commonly open-ended research project. The Department takes pride in having one of the highest proportions of majors choosing to pursue Senior Honors research at Dartmouth!

Learn more about Research at EARS department here!

Learning Goals

Students completing an undergraduate degree in Earth Sciences are expected to:
1. Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental concepts in the Earth Sciences, including concepts of: geologic time and distance scales; how Earth is a dynamic system characterized by the interaction of physical, chemical, and biological processes; the structure, mechanics, and chemistry of Earth materials; and the concept of uncertainty as it applies to our understanding and analysis of Earth processes, resources, and hazards.

2. Work individually and collaboratively to apply appropriate field, laboratory, and computational methods to collect and interpret Earth Science data.  This includes creating and interpreting spatial and temporal data, exploring complex systems through a combination of data reduction, modelling, and quantitative analysis, and identifying sources of uncertainty and the limits of Earth Science data and knowledge.

3. Communicate – in written and oral form, research questions, results, and interpretations to the scientific community, as well as an understanding and ability to communicate the broader impacts and implications of Earth Science research to the public.



Students contemplating a professional career in Earth Sciences are advised that: 

  • First, see the Careers Tab at the top of this page for information about what the most common career paths in Earth Science.
  • Second, consider that training at the Masters (MSc) level or above is becoming increasingly necessary and most graduate schools have minimum entrance requirements equivalent to Mathematics 3 and 8, Chemistry 5-6, and Physics 3-4 or 13-14.
  • Finally, all of the EARS faculty, research associates, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students are happy to discuss potential career opportunities.