The Earth and Planetary Sciences use diverse and interdisciplinary approaches to study complex physical, chemical, and biological processes occurring on and within the earth and other planets. The undergraduate program combines a fundamental background in mathematics, physics, and chemistry with courses applying these techniques to geological problems. Undergraduates are encouraged to select individual programs reflecting their scientific interests and career goals, whether graduate study in the earth sciences, professional employment, or advanced study in areas such as management or law.
Undergraduates are involved in the full spectrum of departmental activities beyond class work: research, seminars, field trips, and social functions. The resulting educational environment offers unusual opportunities for motivated and interested students.
Among the leading programs conferring graduate degrees in geoscience, the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Northwestern University offers students a unique educational experience. While the quality of scholarship favorably compares with the best graduate programs--from which most of the faculty hold their degrees--the size of the combined faculty and graduate student community amounts to a fraction of our sister institutions. With a “think tank” model in mind, the department has worked to build critical faculty mass in two main areas of research: solid-Earth geophysics, highlighting the intersections between plate tectonics, seismology, and mineral physics, and sedimentary geology, focusing on the links between biogeochemistry and climate change. These choices reflect our departmental mission to pursue fundamental, leading edge research that makes important contributions to the most pressing geoscience questions of our day. Currently, much of our effort is directed towards understanding the driving forces of plate tectonics, the structure and composition of the upper mantle and lower crust, the causes and consequences of major earthquakes and tsunamis, the natural and anthropogenic causes of large scale perturbations in Earth’s biogeochemical cycles, and the nature of thresholds and feedbacks within the carbon cycle-climate system linkage.
Source: Department Website July 2010