School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences to Offer Three New Undergraduate Degrees — Including Interdisciplinary Environmental Science Major

Beginning Summer 2023, prospective and current Georgia Tech students will have three new Bachelor of Science degrees to choose from in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. The expanded undergraduate offerings target a wider range of job and research opportunities — from academia to analytics, NASA to NOAA, meteorology to marine science, climate and earth science, to policy, law, consulting, sustainability, and beyond.

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has approved two new specific degrees within the School: Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences (AOS) and Solid Earth and Planetary Sciences (SEP). Regents also approved Environmental Science (ENVS) as an interdisciplinary College of Sciences degree between the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and the School of Biological Sciences. The existing Earth and Atmospheric Sciences B.S. degree will sunset in two years for new students.

“We are really excited to be able to offer this new interdisciplinary undergraduate degree program in Environmental Science,” said Jean Lynch-Stieglitz, ADVANCE Professor in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS). “While it was developed jointly between the Schools of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Biological Sciences, it brings together Georgia Tech’s broad expertise and course offerings related to the Earth’s environment from across the Institute.”

“We are excited to see these new programs develop,” added Andrew Newman, professor and the School’s undergraduate coordinator, “as these degrees highlight the quantitative and computational skills of Georgia Tech students, and align better with their interests in global understanding of problems related to environmental impact and sustainability, natural hazards and landscape development, as well as planetary evolution, habitability, and exploration.”

“Students looking for specific types of programs will also be more understanding of what their program offers,” Newman said. “Under our current degree, a student interested in ocean science, planetary science, and environmental chemistry all would be looking at the same degree that doesn’t define their interests. Now, having programs with those interests in their name, and described well on the upcoming webpage, will greatly increase their interest in our program.”

The Evolution of EAS at Georgia Tech 

Newman also shared that, in Fall 2021, the School surveyed current EAS undergraduate students and recent alumni for feedback and thoughts on the potential degrees. Responses from the community highlighted that the plan for transitioning the existing major could not only help new students hone their academic and career plans, but also help them communicate beyond EAS about their chosen major. 

“These degrees make it more clear what the student is studying,” shared one student. “Before, people would ask what my major ‘even is’ and what kinds of jobs I could get with it. I think the new majors make it more clear.” 

“Finally, Planetary Science!” said another student. “This degree would go well with a Physics or AE (Aerospace Engineering) certificate or dual degree.”

All about the new Georgia Tech EAS degrees

The expanded undergraduate degree offerings are designed to continue Georgia Tech’s reputation for academic rigor — and also reflect trends in student interests, as well as current and forecasted needs in the job marketplace. 

“A key aspect of the new Environmental Science degree program will be its flexibility,” said Lynch-Stieglitz. “Students will be able to focus their study to support their interests and career goals whether those be in conservation, climate change, or environmental health. We’ve also left space in their program to encourage participation in especially impactful experiences such as study abroad and research projects. Georgia Tech students are fantastic — well prepared, diverse, smart, hard-working, and passionate. This flexible approach will allow them to become the broadly educated leaders who will envision the solutions to environmental problems that are so urgently needed.”

More on the new undergraduate degrees and what they will require:

B.S. Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences (AOS) Degree

AOS uses the current Meteorology track as its foundation and will include aspects of Atmospheric Sciences, Oceanography and Climate Sciences.

The AOS degree is designed to take advantage of Atlanta as a “hotspot” for major meteorological organizations including The Weather Channel, CNN, local stations in a top 10 TV market, and the National Weather Service (NWS) Peachtree City, Georgia office. The degree also builds on Georgia Tech’s existing expertise in Atmospheric Chemistry, Oceanography, Climate Dynamics, Paleoclimatology and Paleoceanography, and meteorological research.

AOS degree recipients looking for jobs or graduate research can target the energy sector, insurance risk modeling, broadcast meteorology, consulting, data analytics, aviation, military, and K-12 education, among other positions.

B.S. Environmental Science (ENVS) Degree

ENVS was developed by a joint committee involving EAS and the School of Biological Sciences.

  • ENVS requires core content in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, Earth sciences, and public policy.

  • Upper level coursework allows students to customize their program of study based on interest.

  • Students will complete a capstone research project that integrates the knowledge they have gained through the program.

This degree takes advantage of Georgia Tech’s expertise in Environmental Chemistry, climate science, marine science, Aquatic Chemical Ecology, microbial dynamics, and Environmental Policy. Newman added that there is a critical emerging market need for scientists with expertise in the Earth’s environmental systems.

The ENVS degree will provide a strong base for students pursuing graduate programs and careers in environmental policy, environmental law, medicine, and other master’s and Ph.D. programs in environmentally related disciplines.

B.S. Solid Earth and Planetary Sciences (SEP) Degree

SEP builds on the existing Earth Science track to include Planetary Sciences. 

  • There is an opportunity to reduce some courses.

  • Some courses will now be required (e.g. Physics II, Physics of Planets, Introduction to Geophysics).

According to an SEP prospectus, “the degree will support Georgia Tech’s mission to develop leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition, through developing holistically minded students that can put human development in context of the environment for which we live, including resource availability, hazards that affect sustainability, and our exploratory nature to understand our place on the planet and solar system.” 

Career and graduate opportunities include energy sector positions, NASA, NOAA, U.S. Geological Survey, environmental remediation, hazard assessment and data analytics.

 

Learn more, contact EAS Undergraduate Advising, and apply: