The Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences at Brown is well known for its top-quality undergraduate program. It is also rated among the best research departments in the nation.
We encourage students of all backgrounds to learn more about how the land, water, and air around us directly affect our lives, whether by taking one course, or several, or a concentration program with independent research. Our faculty offer courses in which they share their expertise and enthusiasm for the geological sciences with non-science and non-geology concentrators. These courses can be an enjoyable and meaningful part of a liberal arts education at Brown, in part thanks to the Department's strong focus on developing students' communication and critical thinking skills.
At the undergraduate level, students are offered the flexibility of A.B. or Sc.B. degrees in four concentration options.
There are typically 60+ concentrators within the department and 20 graduates per year, 80% of which complete a capstone Senior Thesis. Undergraduates have many opportunities to get involved in research and hands-on learning experiences.
The Department is one of the most active in developing and providing First Year Seminars, which emphasize interdisciplinary pursuits that reach beyond the physical and biological sciences into the humanities and social sciences. These freshman seminars offer such varied course topics as Global Environmental Change; Patterns in Nature, in Society; Volcanoes: Windows Into the Deep Earth; and Monsters of the Abyss: Oceanography & Sea Tales.
Almost all undergraduates work on an Independent Study project, as paid research assistants, or as Teaching Assistants, at some point before they graduate. Research jobs are typically funded from external grants (10-20 per year), as well as Brown Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards, or UTRAs (2-4 per year), and Royce Fellowships. Undergraduates (6-8 per year) also serve as NASA Space Grant Scholars.
The Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences offers many courses that develop students' written and oral communication skills, including writing-designated (WRIT) courses that satisfy Brown's writing requirement. We welcome students from across the university to take these courses, noting that a few of them have prerequisites. A list of WRIT courses is available here.
Concentrators are encouraged to attend summer field courses and are offered some scholarship support for field course expenses. In addition, the department sponsors a two-day field trip every fall, and many courses offer field trips, laboratory exercises, and oral presentations/class discussions that enable students to engage with the course material in a group setting. The success of the undergraduate program is evidenced by the demand for Brown graduates in top-notch graduate programs across the nation.