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Undergraduate Programs of Study

Geosciences Concentrations

Geoscience is a unique blend of lab experiment, field observation, data analysis, and computer modeling. Courses in geosciences apply principles of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics to real Earth problems, deal with length scales from global to atomic, and consider time scales from billions of years to less than a second. The flexible academic program allows students to develop individualized courses of study. 

Geosciences Prerequisite Requirements:

All concentrators are required to take one introductory Geoscience course: GEO 202 or GEO 203, or Geosciences Freshman Seminar with permission of the Undergraduate Work Committee (UWC). Students with adequate preparation may proceed directly to GEO 300-level courses with the consent of their GEO adviser, but this cannot substitute for one of the eight upper-level geosciences courses. Other introductory geosciences courses, such as GEO 102, 103, 107, and 197 (formerly 297), are intended primarily for nonscience majors and are not ideal for students anticipating majoring in geosciences. Please note that no other GEO 200 level courses or other courses satisfy this requirement.

General Requirements:

The following courses are required for graduation (with at most one pass/D/fail). AP credit may be used to place into a more advanced math or science course, but it does not provide credit toward the geosciences concentration.

Mathematics Prequisite: MAT 104 or MAT 175 or one more advanced course in math. AP credit does not fulfill this requirement.

Geosciences Core Science Requirements: Students must complete two of the following core science requirements at Princeton; PHY 104, CHM 202, COS 226, and MOL 214. AP credits do not fulfill this requirement, but students with AP credit may choose to substitute a more advanced course to satisfy a core science requirement. For example, CHM 215 or CHM 301 could substitute for CHM 202. Students interested in graduate school are encouraged to take more than these minimum basic science requirements.

Departmental Requirements:
Concentrators are required to take eight upper-level geosciences courses (300 level or higher, not including GEO 499 and GEO 503).

Upper Level Science Courses: Up to two of the following classes may be substituted for GEO 300+ classes. Students may substitute other advanced science courses not listed below with permission of the UWC: CHM 301, CHM 302, CHM 305, CHM 306, CEE 306, CEE 323, COS 323, EEB 306, EEB 309, EEB 312, EEB 320, ENV 302, MAE 305, MAE 306, MAE 328, MSE 301, MSE 302, PHY 301, PHY 304, PHY 305, and WWS 350.

Students are urged to consult with the departmental representative or their junior or senior adviser before choosing departmental courses outside geosciences. In general, the department is flexible about course selections and requirements; however, we must ensure a degree of coherency in the curriculum of each student.

Junior Colloquium. This is a weekly luncheon meeting, convened during the fall term, to acquaint juniors with research and career opportunities. This is mandatory for all geosciences majors (including those in the geological engineering program).

Departmental Tracks:


Study the geochemical and biological processes modifying Earth’s surface (atmosphere,soils, sediments, oceans). How do biogeochemical interactions modify the behavior of elements and molecules responsible for global climate change, ecological variations and toxicity, and bioaccumulation of anthropogenic contaminants.


Study the structure and evolution of Earth as a physical system, by theory, experiment, observation, and numerical simulation. The emphasis is on physical processes of global relevance including the history of Earth and life in the rock record. The quantitative concepts and techniques covered in class are also relevant to appied sciences and industry.


Study the coupled ocean and atmosphere system as it interacts with life to set the physical and chemical conditions of Earth’s surface. Students with backgrounds in subjects as diverse as chemistry, biology, physics, public policy, and economics with an interest in climate and global environmental conditions will find this track a challenging and relevant addition to their coursework.