Earth & Planetary Sciences (Geological, Environmental, and Atmospheric Sciences)

Many global challenges for present and future generations concern issues deeply embedded within the Earth Sciences. Understanding the availability of and developing key resources (e.g. metals, petroleum, coal) derived from the planet require a comprehension of the depth of geologic time and Earth processes that affect rock, air, and water. The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) focuses on education and the scientific investigation of the Earth, the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, other planetary bodies, and the solar system.

Learn how our fascinating planet (and solar system!) works through a major or minor, or by simply taking some classes. You can take a class called Volcanoes!, or learn about the formation of the solar system and astrobiology. The majors and minors emphasize a solid foundation in a broad range of EPS areas, like mineralology, geospatial analysis, meteorology, hydrology, and climate science. The field classes in geology utilize the amazing geological resources around UNM to give students hands-on experience in understanding the formation of this area.

EPS strongly encourages all students to participate in a research experience. Often this coincides with an Honors Thesis, where students work with a faculty advisor of their choice to develop and complete a research project. This is highly recommended for those interested in graduate school. If you want to participate in a professor's research without doing the Honors Thesis, you can reach out to your favorite professor to see if there are any open positions in their research projects.

EPS offers two majors for undergraduate study: Earth and Planetary Sciences and Environmental Science.

Earth and Planetary Sciences

Earth and Planetary Sciences is the study of the Earth and other bodies in the solar system, and involves the study of the formation, composition and history of rocks; the large- and small-scale processes that modify them after they form (including the effects of water, the atmosphere and human activities); and the useful materials (metals, petroleum, coal, etc.) that may be obtained from them. This is a multidisciplinary science that utilizes chemistry, physics, biology, meteorology, oceanography and other disciplines to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the evolution of our planet and the solar system and to enhance the stewardship of our planet’s natural resources.

You can do a B.A. or B.S. degree. The B.S. degree requires more classes within the department and does not require an additional minor. This is the recommended degree to prepare for graduate study in Geology, Geophysics, or Planetary Science. The B.A. degree offers a solid foundation in the basic knowledge and principles of the discipline, and does require an additional minor from a different department. This degree is a good choice for those with an interest in the field, but who may want to use their knowlege in other areas, like writing, advocacy, art, or law.

Environmental Science

Environmental Science focuses on the application of biological, chemical, and physical principles to the study of the physical environment and the solution of environmental problems, including subjects such as abating or controlling environmental pollution and degradation; the interaction between human society and the natural environment; and natural resources management. The degree provides scientific training for environment-related occupations, including environmental sciences as well as peripheral fields such as law, medicine, and policy. Students have considerable flexibility in tailoring the major to their individual interests, and work closely with a faculty member to design a curriculum that meets their interests and goals.

There is no minor required for the B.S. degrees for Earth and Planetary Sciences or Environmental Science. 

Undergraduate Program

Departmental Honors

UNM Catalog

Programs of Study


  • B.A. Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • B.S. Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • B.S. Environmental Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Environmental Science

Contact Information

Undergraduate Academic Advisor(s): 
Advisor office locations vary. Please click on your advisor's name below to learn more.
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Department Location:
Northrop Hall (Bldg 24), First Floor

Department/Program Website