BA in Geophysics & Planetary Sciences

The major in Geophysics & Planetary Sciences provides students with broad knowledge of the principles of astronomy, especially in relation to geophysics and planetary sciences topics such as planetary geology, planetary atmospheres, and planetary interiors. A bachelor’s degree in Geophysics & Planetary Sciences prepares students for research in geophysics, geodynamics, seismology, and planetary science or careers in science education, management, geotechnical consulting, computing, or science writing.


A total of 16 courses are required, all completed with a grade of C or higher. Unless otherwise noted, all required courses are 4 credit hours.

Required Core Courses (4)

  • CAS AS 202 Principles of Astronomy I
  • CAS AS 311 Planetary Physics
  • CAS ES 107 Introduction to Earth System Science
  • CAS ES 305 Rock Deformation and Structure

Required Related Courses (8)

  • 3 calculus courses: CAS MA 123, 124, 225
  • 1 general chemistry course: CAS CH 101 (or CH 131)
  • 4 physics courses
    • CAS PY 211 (or 251) and CAS PY 212 (or 252)
    • CAS PY 355
    • CAS PY 405 (or PY 408)

Students entering the program with strong calculus skills may substitute CAS MA 127 or CAS MA 129 for the combination of CAS MA 123 and CAS MA 124, in consultation with their academic advisor.

Required Major Electives (4)

Students, in consultation with their advisor, choose at least four courses from the following, one of which must be at the 400 level or above, not all in the same department:

  • CAS AS 312 Stellar and Galactic Astrophysics
  • CAS AS 414 Solar and Space Physics
  • CAS AS 441 Observational Astronomy
  • CAS ES 301 Structural Analysis of Rocks
  • CAS ES 333 Earth Surface Processes
  • CAS ES 371 Introduction to Geochemistry
  • CAS ES 483 Geodynamics II: Fluids and Fluid Transport
  • CAS ES 510 Introduction to the Atmospheric Boundary Layer
  • CAS ES 533 Quantitative Geomorphology
  • CAS GE 302 Remote Sensing of Environment
  • CAS GE 310 Climate and the Environment
  • CAS GE 507 Dynamical Oceanography
  • CAS PY 313 Waves and Modern Physics (or CAS PY 351 Modern Physics)
  • CAS PY 410 Statistical Thermodynamics
  • CAS PY 405 Electromagnetic Fields and Waves (or CAS PY 408 Intermediate Mechanics), if not already taken

Recommended Courses

Any from the above list of courses, in addition to CAS CH 102 General Chemistry 2, CS 111 Introduction to Computer Science, and CS 112 Introduction to Computer Science 2.

Cross-Registration with Boston College

The Boston Area Consortium permits degree candidates at Boston University to pursue courses in areas of fluid mechanics and geophysics at Boston College. (Cross-registration course numbers are designated by the abbreviation “XAS” for undergraduate students.)

Further information and the required Registration Form can be found at the Office of the University Registrar’s Boston Area Consortia webpage.