Earth and Planetary Sciences

Almost every practical aspect of society—population, environment, economics, politics—is and will be increasingly impacted by our relationship with the Earth. Students with a natural curiosity about the Earth’s or another planet’s dynamic systems should consider studying in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS).

The EPS secondary field is intended to provide a strong foundation in one or more subfields of Earth science (atmospheric and ocean science, energy and climate, environmental geoscience, geobiology, geochemistry, geology, planetary sciences, and solid earth geophysics,) to students who have sufficient preparation in physics, chemistry, and mathematics. The EPS department covers a wide range of pure and applied scientific topics, and therefore consultation with a faculty adviser will be required for secondary field students. Secondary field students will be required to take the departmental tutorial, an ongoing series of lectures by faculty scheduled periodically through the academic year. The tutorial exposes concentrators and secondary fielders to the breadth of Earth and Planetary Sciences and provides a setting for students to get acquainted with one another and with members of the faculty.

REQUIREMENTS: 5 courses (20 credits) and department tutorial

  1. Required courses: A total of five EPS courses.
    1. A minimum of 2 foundational courses from either EPS 10 or SPU 12, 14, 25, 29, 30, and 31, and all 50-level EPS courses. NB: No more than one of these from EPS 10 or SPU 12, 14, 25, 29, 30 or 31.
    2. Three additional courses in EPS.
  2. Departmental tutorial. Non-credit. Generally taken in the first year of declaring.


Courses from study abroad, Harvard Summer School, or other Harvard schools could count toward secondary field credit if approved by the EPS Undergraduate Committee prior to the student's enrollment in these courses. Petitioning the UCC for such credit or substitution follows the same procedure used by EPS concentrators. For more information please contact the Academic Administrator. Freshman Seminars do not count toward secondary field credit.

All courses must be taken for a letter grade in order to count toward secondary field concentration credit and normally C- is the minimum acceptable grade.

An important aspect of the EPS concentration is participation in field trips and/or summer and January field camps, supported by the department. These opportunities will be available to secondary field students on a space-available basis, after placement of concentrators.


Students will submit an EPS form to become a secondary field student as early as possible but no later than the Study Card due date of their penultimate term; the department will then assign a faculty member to be an adviser. This form can be found on department's website; paper copies are available from the Academic Administrator. The Academic Administrator will also provide guidance on course selection, as well as review student records to certify completion of requirements. Once the course requirements have been fulfilled, students will follow the FAS procedures to submit a form to the Registrar confirming that requirements have been met.

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences wants to encourage students who are pursuing a secondary field in EPS to become full citizens of the department. Secondary field students will be invited to all events and activities currently open to concentrators to provide opportunities for all EPS concentrators to get acquainted with one another and with members of the faculty.

Students interested in pursuing a secondary field in Earth and Planetary Sciences should contact EPS Co-head Tutor Professor Jerry Mitrovica, Geological Museum 203B, 617-496-2732,; Co-Head Tutor Professor Francis Macdonald, Geological Museum 204C, 617-496-2236,; or Academic Administrator Chenoweth Moffatt,, 617-384-9760, Hoffman Labs Room 402.