The aim of this undergraduate program is to provide thorough training in the geological and planetary sciences and, wherever possible, to integrate these studies with courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology taken during the student's earlier years at the Institute. Active involvement in research, particularly during the summer, is encouraged. For geologists, field work is important because it provides firsthand experience with geological phenomena that can never be satisfactorily grasped or understood solely from classroom or laboratory treatment. Options are offered in geology, geobiology, geochemistry, geophysics, and planetary science. Electives permit students to follow lines of special interest in related scientific and engineering fields. Those who do well in the basic sciences and at the same time have a compelling curiosity the earth and the other planets are likely to find their niche in these options, especially if they enjoy grappling with complex problems involving many variables. Most students majoring in the earth and planetary sciences now pursue further training at the graduate level.
Under the geobiology option, a student can be associated with either the biology or the GPS division. This association formally will only affect which course the students elect to satisfy the Institute-wide oral presentation requirement; all other geobiology option requirements are independent of GPS or biology affiliation. In practice, however, we expect that students' affiliation with one division or another will significantly shape their choice of elective courses.
For students beginning their junior year, it is possible to complete the requirements for geochemistry, geophysics, and planetary science options within two years, but there are benefits from starting with the Ge 11 sequence in the sophomore year. Because Ge 120 ab may not be offered every year, students in the geology option may also need to take Ge 106 and Ge 120 a in winter and spring term of their sophomore year in order to prepare for Ge 120 b the following summer.
For students simultaneously pursuing a degree in a second option, courses taken as required courses for that option can also be counted as Ge electives where appropriate. However, courses that count toward the electives requirement in the other option cannot simultaneously be counted toward satisfying the elective requirement in GPS.
The minors in the GPS Division are intended for non-GPS undergraduates to supplement a major degree with knowledge of earth and planetary science. Students may complete a minor in either Geobiology, Geochemistry, Geology, Geophysics, Planetary Sciences or a general GPS minor, and will have the phrase "minor in [the appropriate option]" added to their transcript. Any student interested in a minor in GPS is urged to contact the appropriate option representative in the division.