Geophysics & Planetary Science

The major in Geophysics & Planetary Sciences (G & PS) provides students with broad knowledge of the principles of astronomy, together with geophysics and planetary sciences topics such as planetary geology, planetary atmospheres, and planetary interiors. Students learn to communicate astronomical information effectively to a variety of audiences using the spoken and written word. They learn to think critically and evaluate, interpret, and solve problems related to astronomy, geophysics, planetary sciences, and general scientific topics. A bachelor’s degree in G & PS prepares students for research in geophysics, geodynamics, seismology, and planetary science as well as careers in science education, management, geotechnical consulting, computing, and science writing. For descriptions of the various courses offered by the Department of Earth & Environment, go to the Courses page.


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 Climate and Earth System Science
  • CAS ES 305 Rock Deformation and Structure

Required Related Courses (8)

  • 3 calculus courses: CAS MA 123 Calculus I, MA 124 Calculus II, and MA 225 Multivariate Calculus
  • 1 general chemistry course: CAS CH 101 General Chemistry 1 (or CH 131 General Chemistry for the Engineering Sciences)
  • 4 physics courses:
    • CAS PY 211 General Physics (or PY 251 Principles of Physics 1)
      and CAS PY 212 General Physics (or PY 252 Principles of Physics 2)
    • CAS PY 355 Methods of Theoretical Physics
    • CAS PY 405 Electromagnetic Fields and Waves I (or PY 408 Intermediate Mechanics)

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)

In consultation with their advisor, students must take four courses from the following list. One of these must be at the 400 level or above. Not all of these can be taken in the same department. (GE and ES courses are offered by the Department of Earth & Environment.)

  • CAS AS 312 Stellar and Galactic Astrophysics
  • CAS AS 414 Solar and Space Physics
  • CAS AS 441 Observational Astronomy
  • CAS ES 300 Earth’s Rocky Materials
  • CAS ES 301 Structural Analysis of Rocks
  • CAS ES 333 Earth Surface Processes
  • CAS ES 371 Introduction to Geochemistry
  • CAS ES 420 Remote Sensing and Aquatic Optics
  • 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 405 Electromagnetic Fields and Waves I (or CAS PY 408 Intermediate Mechanics), if not already taken
  • CAS PY 410 Statistical Thermodynamics

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.