Geophysics Major

As a geophysics major, you will learn to apply the principles of physics to the study of the Earth. In geophysics, evaluation of gravity, magnetic and electrical fields, seismic wave propagation and heat flow are used to deduce the Earth's structure, composition, physical properties and dynamic processes. These studies may emphasize exploration geophysics, which uses geophysical techniques in the search for petroleum, natural gas, mineral deposits and groundwater resources. The techniques of geophysics are also used to investigate the shallow portions of the earth to determine conditions for the suitable location of dams, bridges, nuclear power plants, waste disposal sites and highways.

You should major in geophysics if...

  • You are skilled in science and mathematics.
  • You have a wide spectrum of interests in the physical sciences.
  • You are interested in groundwater, petroleum or materials exploration.
  • You are interested in deep Earth or planetary exploration.
  • You are considering going on to graduate-level studies in the physical sciences.

Program overview

The geophysics major will train you in the broad spectrum of both physics and geosciences, as well as the mathematical underpinnings of both fields. After completing the required foundation courses, you may choose electives to suit your specific areas of interest. For example, you will have the opportunity to study various areas of physics, from astrophysics to electronics and geosciences, from hydrogeology to remote sensing.

  • Program requirements: To learn more about specific program requirements, consult the 2016-17 undergraduate catalog.
  • Course listings: To see which courses will be offered when, check out the WMU course listings. You can also read course descriptions for physics classes here or geosciences classes here.
  • Professional development: Students in the Department of Geosciences are encouraged to gain valuable professional, research and field experience through joining our highly active student organizations: Geology Club, Student Chapter of American Institute for Professional Geologists, Student Chapter of American Associate of Petroleum Geologists and the Student Chapter of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

Careers

Employment options for holders of a bachelor's in geophysics are limited. Graduates are well-prepared for graduate work in either physics or geosciences. Once a master's-level degree is obtained, you are highly sought-after in various fields. Environmental firms and petroleum exploration firms are likely employers. Government employment at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or the U.S. Geological Survey is possible, as well as in similar state agencies around the country.  For more career information, contact faculty advisor, Dr. Duane Hampton (listed below) and visit the Career Guidance and Alumni Spotlight pages.

Our students

  • Meet our students:Watch video interviews featuring undergraduate and graduate students from a wide variety of personal and educational backgrounds discussing their experiences in the Department of Geosciences.
  • Recent student achievements:Read about the accomplishments of our current students.
  • Alumni spotlight:Read about where our students find careers after graduating.

Associated Faculty

  • Faculty directory: Learn about our faculty members' professional and academic backgrounds, their teaching and research interests and publishing history.
  • Faculty and staff research specialties: Learn about each faculty and staff members' unique research interests (links to laboratories are also provided here).

Graduate study options

  • Accelerated Master of Arts in earth science: The accelerated graduate degree program allows undergraduate students to begin accumulating credits toward the completion of a Master of Arts in earth science degree while completing this bachelor's degree.
  • Graduate programs: The Department of Geosciences offers three graduate degree programs (MA, MS, PhD) and a graduate certificate program in applied hydrogeology.  

Advising

The College of Arts and Sciences has a two-tiered advising system for undergraduates. Please consult your departmental and college advisors regularly to ensure that academic requirements are met.

  • Major and minor advising: Unsure which geosciences major/minor is right for you? Curious about job opportunities for geophysics majors? Contact Dr. Duane Hampton, our prospective undergraduate adviser and career adviser, to set up an appointment. Confused about which classes to take, how to enroll in classes or want to know your progress towards graduation? All of these questions can be discussed with your undergraduate faculty adviser, Dr. Michelle Kominz.
  • College of Arts and Sciences advising: Have a question about general education or graduate requirements? Take advantage of CAS undergraduate advising drop-in hours or make an appointment.

Resources

What's Next?

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