Geophysics involves the application of physics and mathematics to the study of processes that operate on and within the Earth and other planets, over short and long timescales. The AB degree requires a total of 14 courses, including 6 geoscience courses, 3 physics or engineering courses, and 3 math and applied math courses. The ScB degree requires a total of 20 courses, including 8 geoscience courses, 4 physics or engineering courses, and 4 math and applied courses; students can choose courses from both solid Earth geophysics and environmental geophysics. Geoscience courses emphasize an analytical and process-oriented approach, with hands-on experiences in labs and on field trips. Active and collaborative learning is encouraged, as is practice in written and oral communication. There are many opportunities for students to engage in research (typically in paid positions) during the academic year or in the summer, in areas such as analysis of seismic waves in subduction zones, theoretical modeling of convection in the Earth’s mantle, interpreting the cause of gravity anomalies in southern California, and remote sensing of warming in Narragansett Bay.
Students in this concentration will:
Almost all students undertake a capstone experience, which may include a summer field course, a senior seminar course, or an independent research course. ScB students are required to complete at least one semester of research; AB students do not have this requirement but many undertake a research course as an elective. Honors may be awarded to candidates for either an AB or ScB degree, if they have a GPA of 3.4 or higher in concentration courses and complete honors work in independent research (GEOL 1970). Honors research is supervised by one faculty member and the resulting thesis is read by two additional faculty. An oral presentation and a final paper, revised at least once, are required. Please consult the department’s website for a complete description of admission procedures and requirements.
This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:
GeoPhysics concentrators can find a variety of employment opportunities with their undergraduate degree, including the private sector (e.g. environmental and energy consulting firms), government (research positions at state and US Geological Surveys,PeaceCorps), academic (research internships and universities, teaching high school science), and non-profits (community and national organizations). Visit the Geological Sciences Alumni blog and see recent online alumni/ae newsletters. About half of all concentrators eventually go on for a professional or advanced degree, either in basic science or in one of the increasing number of interdisciplinary programs.
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