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Best Undergraduate Degrees in Earth Sciences

written by: Erik Hinrichsen•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 8/25/2010

In this article, Bright Hub provides a list of the best undergraduate Earth Sciences programs. Before you apply to schools, you must read the information provided here!

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    Earth sciences is a very broad field, encompassing many different subjects. Earth sciences, also known as geosciences, include all sciences that deal with the Earth. In addition to the physical planet itself, Earth Scientists study the ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere. The best undergraduate Earth sciences programs tend to have a strong presence in all of the traditional Earth sciences. The most popular undergraduate Earth sciences majors are geology, geophysics, oceanography, climatology, and meteorology.

    In addition to offering all of these majors, the best undergraduate Earth sciences programs are able to attract top scientists to work as professors. This means that students at such programs are taught by the best members of the particular field, and also gain the opportunity to work with well-connected professors. These connections pay off after graduation, when students are able to point to the famous names they have worked with as evidence of their experience.

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    Top 10 Undergraduate Earth Sciences Programs

    The best undergraduate Earth sciences programs are all large-sized universities. This makes sense, because large research universities have the funds to attract excellent scientists and assist them in obtaining research grants. Much of the most important research in Earth sciences is being done at these universities, because they have the best facilities, the best professors, and the most funding. Students would be well served to study at such institutions, as doing so would open them up to exciting possibilities. Some students may even be able to work with professors doing research, which is a major help in finding a job or applying to graduate schools.

    Top Ten Undergraduate Earth Sciences Programs

    1. California Institute of Technology. Located in Pasadena, California.
    2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    3. University of California- Berkeley. Located in Berkeley, California
    4. Stanford University. Located in Stanford, California
    5. Columbia University. Located in New York, New York.
    6. Pennsylvania State University- University Park. Located in University Park, Pennsylvania
    7. University of Arizona. Located in Tucson, Arizona.
    8. Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts
    9. Princeton University. Located in Princeton, New Jersey
    10. University of Michigan- Ann Arbor. Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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    Choosing an Earth Sciences Program

    The niche of Earth sciences that a program chooses to focus on is usually a function of location. Due to heavy earthquake activity in California, California schools are a great place to study plate tectonics and earthquakes. Students may have the opportunity to study an actual fault, as a very large one passes through California. California and Arizona students may also be able to get involved in work studying the mechanics of earthquakes, much of which is being done on the West Coast.

    On the other hand, Penn State may be a good choice for studying mining and mineralogy, as Pennsylvania has a long tradition of mining. Students may be able to enter actual mines, an opportunity not available at most schools.

    Other schools may focus on the ocean, climatology, or any number of other areas. The best way to discover a school's focus is to visit its website and read about research being done, courses offered, and majors available.

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