Earth & Planetary Sciences


The Earth and Planetary Science minor gives students a broad understanding of processes that formed and modify the Earth and other planets in the solar system. The curriculum introduces a wide range of topics, from surface phenomena such as weather and climate, to the Earth’s internal composition and dynamics. Transcending the boundaries of traditional geological studies, the Earth and Planetary Science program focuses on the way large Earth systems such as the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere interact and evolve. Further emphasis is placed on the fundamental physical and chemical laws that govern the cycling of matter and energy on the Earth. Together, these complementary approaches help to provide students with a comprehensive view of the planet’s origin and evolution, as well as an enlightened appreciation for the forces at work in our natural environment.

The core program offers both introductory (PHY 140 and PHY 141) and advanced (PHY 340) Earth Science courses. The introductory courses can be applied toward distribution. The advanced course requires completion of PHY 140 and PHY 141. As a whole, the curriculum provides excellent supplementary training for science and environmental studies majors. The Earth and Planetary Science minor combined with a major in physics, chemistry, biology, or environmental studies can form an ideal launch point for Earth Science careers in industry, academia, or research.

This minor can be combined with any major at Washington College. It comprises six courses, to be chosen as follows:

  • ENV 140. Exploring the Solid Earth (with lab)
  • ENV 141. Atmosphere, Ocean and Environment (with lab)
  • ENV/PHY 240. Earth and Planetary Systems Studies (with lab)
  • MAT 201. Differential Calculus

And two courses from the following:

  • CHE 111. General Chemistry I
  • CHE 112. General Chemistry II
  • CSI 201. Introduction to Computer Programming
  • ANT 109. Introduction to Geographical Information Systems
  • PHY 111. General Physics I
  • PHY 112. General Physics II