College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences

Department of Earth Science

Bachelor of Arts

Earth & Environment Option

Bachelor of Science

Earth & Environment Option


Earth Science


Ashish Sinha, Department Chair

Michael Ferris, Rodrick A. Hay, John Keyantash, Brendan McNulty, Ralph H. Saunders


John Hearn

Instructional Support Tech Office: NSM F-129, (310) 243-3368
Department Office: NSM B-202, (310) 243-3377

Program Description

The Earth Sciences Department offers B.S. and B.A. degree options in Earth & Environment. The Earth & Environment program is a streamlined cross-disciplinary program that trains students to work in the broad fields of earth and environmental science. The program concentrates on the understanding of Earth's physical systems and the relationship of those systems to natural landscapes and human populations. The overall mission of the program is to prepare leaders, thinkers and planners to address and solve environmental challenges using interdisciplinary approaches.

The program covers the four major earth systems (lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere), human systems (economic, political and cultural), and the interactions among them. At the heart of the major is a core of required and elective upper division courses in the following areas: Environmental Policy, The Natural Environment, and Applied Methods. The program's integrative curriculum provides the opportunity to study basic relationships between planet Earth, its many environments, and its people. In the broadest sense, the program has three overarching objectives: thorough instruction in fundamental concepts of the Earth and its environment; development of skills in observation, writing and oral communication; and application of those skills to real-world problems.


The faculty has expertise in the fields of meteorology, hydrology, remote sensing, geographic information systems, plate tectonics, field geology, natural resources and energy, and economic, political and historical geography. The broad expertise of the faculty provides an unusual opportunity for undergraduate students to work closely with their professors, and benefit from a wide range of field experiences. The involvement of faculty members in applied situations, both in community and advisory capacities, and in professional consultation, provides an excellent opportunity for advanced students to gain "hands-on" experience.

Academic Advisement

Majors should consult with their advisor prior to registration each semester. Records of students' progress toward the degree are maintained in the Earth Sciences Departmental office.


For high school students, the best preparation for the major is a well-rounded program of high school courses in humanities, social sciences, science and mathematics, as well as written and oral communication skills. Community college transfer students should have completed introductory courses in two or more of the following: geology, earth science, environmental science, physical geography, and human/cultural geography. Introductory courses in physical, biological and social sciences are recommended.

Career Possibilities

The major prepares students for a wide range of employment opportunities including those in government agencies, environmental protection and management agencies; water, sewer and power-generation utilities; analytical laboratories; environmental and engineering firms; construction companies, private industry management, K-12 education, and non-profit organizations. Specific fields may cover any one or more of the following: environmental protection, resource management, meteorology, climatology, hydrology, oceanography, environmental science, geologic hazards, remote sensing, cartography, environmental planning, geotechnical investigations, energy management and distribution; urban and regional planning, transportation, and K-12 teaching.  The program also provides excellent training for graduate programs.

Graduation With Honors

An undergraduate student may be a candidate for graduation with Honors in Geology provided he or she meets the following criteria:

  1. A minimum of 36 units in residence at CSU Dominguez Hills;
  2. A minimum grade point average of at least 3.5 in all courses used to satisfy the upper division requirements in the major;
  3. Recommendation by the faculty of the Earth Sciences Department.

Total Course Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree

See the "Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree" in the University Catalog for complete details on general degree requirements. A minimum of 40 units, including those required for the major, must be upper division.

Elective Requirements

Completion of elective courses (beyond the requirements listed below) to reach a total of a minimum of 120 or a maximum of 132 units.

General Education Requirements (55-62 units)

See the "General Education" requirements in the University Catalog or the Class Schedule for the most current information on General Education requirements and course offerings.

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement

See the "Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement" in the University Catalog.

Minor Requirements

Students completing this major are not required to complete a minor in another field.

Major Requirements (54-72 units)

Students must select to pursue the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. The following courses, or their approved transfer equivalents, are required of all candidates for this degree.

Earth & Environment Option, Bachelor of Arts (54 units)

A.  Lower Division Required Courses (7 units):

GEO 100. Human Geography (3)

EAR 101. Physical Geology Laboratory (1)

EAR 100. Physical Geology (3) or

GEO 200. Physical Geography (3)


B.  Upper Division Requirements (38 units)

1.  Environmental Policy (9 units):

GEO 357. Urban Environmental Geography (3)

GEO 360. North America (3)

GEO 433. Environmental Analysis and Planning (3)

2.  The Natural Environment (19 units):

EAR 410. Environmental Geology (3)

EAR 450. Plate Tectonics and the Rock Cycle (4)

EAR 460. Global Change (3)

GEO 412. Rivers and Streams (3)

GEO 416. Earth's Climates (3)

GEO 420. Natural Resources (3)

3.  Applied Methods (10 units):

EAR 376. Field Mapping (3)

EAR 490. Senior Seminar in Earth Sciences (1)

GEO 370. Numerical Methods in Geography (3)

GEO 415. Geographic Information Systems (3)


C. Upper Division Electives (9 units):

     Select three courses from the list below. Other courses from within the College can also be substituted with the approval of an advisor.

EAR 370. The World Ocean (3)

EAR 476. Groundwater (3)

GEO 315. The Weather (3)

GEO 380. Biogeography of Southern California (3)

GEO 408. Remote Sensing and Image Processing (3)

Earth & Environment Option, Bachelor of Science (72 units)

B.S. option only (18 units)

B.S. students should take the additional following lower division courses:

CHE 110. General Chemistry I (5) and

CHE 112. General Chemistry II (5) and

PHY 120. Elements of Physics I (4) and

PHY 122. Elements of Physics II (4)


BIO 120. Principles of Biology I (3)

BIO 121. Principles of Biology I Laboratory (1) and

BIO 122. Principles of Biology II (3) and

BIO 123. Principles of Biology II Laboratory (1)

Minor in Earth Sciences (19 units)

The Minor in Earth Sciences requires completion of 19 units. The lower division requirement includes courses which may be used to satisfy other university requirements such as General Education or the major.

A.  Lower Division Required Courses (7 units):

EAR 100. Physical Geology (3)

EAR 101. Physical Geology Laboratory (1)

GEO 200. Physical Geography (3)


B.  Upper Division Requirements (12 units):

     Any 12 units of upper division Earth Sciences (EAR) courses are sufficient to fulfill this requirement. Alternatively, the student may complete any six units of upper division Earth Sciences courses with six units selected from the geography courses listed below:

GEO 310. Geomorphology (3)

GEO 315. The Weather (3)

GEO 412. Rivers and Streams (3)

GEO 416. Earth's Climates (3)

Course Offerings

The credit value for each course in semester units is indicated for each term by a number in parentheses following the title. For course availability, please see the list of tentative course offerings in the current Class Schedule.

Lower Division

EAR 100          Physical Geology (3).

Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in EAR 101 is recommended.

Volcanoes, earthquakes, oceanic processes and continental drift. Rock and mineral identification is enhanced by concurrent enrollment in EAR 101. Meets certain general studies requirements, is fundamental to the Geology major, and has wide-ranging applications in art, commerce, public policy, and science. Field Trip.

EAR 101          Physical Geology Laboratory (1).

Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in EAR 100 is recommended.

Nature and origin of rocks and minerals through determination of physical properties of specimens. Topographic and geologic map analysis. Geological features from stereoscopic air photos. Recommended elective for students interested in the outdoors, archaeology, mineral deposits, land use, and natural hazards.

Upper Division

EAR 370          The World Ocean (3).

Prerequisite: EAR 100 or GEO 200 is recommended.

Physical and chemical characteristics of seawater. Distribution of temperatures and salinity. Study of currents, tides, waves and the influence of the sea on weather and on life.

EAR 376          Field Mapping (3).

Prerequisite: EAR 100 or GEO 200.

Introduction to geological and environmental field mapping. Techniques include working with topographic and remotely-sensed images, use of Brunton compass traverse methods, and interpretation of sedimentary rocks and geological structures (faults, folds). Applications to geotechnical work, resource management, environmental analysis, anthropology, government agencies, industry, and teaching outdoor activities. Eight hours of lab and one-half hour of lecture per week.

EAR 410          Environmental Geology (3).

Prerequisites: EAR 100, GEO 200 or SMT 416.

Study of human interaction with the geologic environment. Mitigating exposure to geological hazards (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides). environmental consequences of geological resources (fossil fuels, minerals, water) extraction and consumption; surface and groundwater contamination, acid rain; climate change; waste burial.

EAR 450          Plate Tectonics and the Rock Cycle (4).

Prerequisite: EAR 100.

Study of plate tectonic processes and how they relate to the formation of rocks and the rock cycle. Includes earthquakes, volcanic activity, hot spots and plate boundary types. Two hours of lecture and six hours of lab per week.

EAR 460          Global Change (3).

Prerequisite: GEO 416.

An interdisciplinary introduction to the science of understanding global change – natural as well as anthropogenically induced. Key topics include the physical climate system and variability, the carbon cycle, land and water issues, and the impact of global change on society.

EAR 476          Groundwater (3)

Prerequisites:  EAR 100 and EAR 101.  CHE 108 or CHE 110 is recommended.

Interrelationships of geologic materials and processes with water. Topics include: hydrologic cycle, physical characteristics of aquifers, groundwater flow, wells, geology of flow systems, groundwater chemistry, and criteria for development and management of water resources.

EAR 490          Senior Seminar in Earth Sciences (1).

Prerequisite: Senior standing in Earth Sciences or consent of instructor.

Study and discussion of current research in Earth Sciences. Techniques of oral presentation, library research and preparation of audiovisual materials. One hour of seminar per week.

EAR 494          Independent Study (1-3).

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Independent Study of a particular geographic or environmental problem under the supervision of a member of the Geography staff.

EAR 495          Advanced Topics in Earth Sciences (3).

Selected topics in Earth Science with course content to be determined by instructor. Repeatable course.

EAR 496          Internship in Earth Sciences (2, 3).

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Employment as an assistant or volunteer in an earth sciences-related firm or government agency. Course may run at time convenient to student and employers, including summer. Student should contact Department faculty three months prior to enrollment. CR/NC grading. Repeatable course.

EAR 498          Directed Research (1-3).

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Directed research of a particular geographic or environmental problem under the direction of a member of the Earth Science staff.

EAR 499          Senior Thesis (2).

Prerequisite: Approval of instructor.

Geological research and writing of a thesis. Generally includes library, field and laboratory investigations. Topic of research to be approved and directed by an instructor. CR/NC grading.

Infrequently Offered Courses

The following courses are scheduled on
a "demand" basis. Students should consult the department office for information about the next schedule offering.

EAR 478          Engineering Geology (3).

Prerequisite: EAR 450.

Evaluation and abatement of geologic hazards affecting construction projects and land use. Landslides, groundwater pollution, subsidence, flooding, and earthquake effects. Mechanical properties of rocks and soils. Case histories and site investigations. Application to business, law, construction engineering and environmental studies. Two hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory per week.