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Departments & Programs


Honors Program

The Earth Systems Honors program provides students with an opportunity to pursue individual interdisciplinary research. It consists of a year-long research project that is mentored by one or more Earth Systems-affiliated faculty members, and culminates in a written thesis. While all Earth Systems students must complete an approved 9-unit/270-hour interdisciplinary research/internship project and write an accompanying 15-page technical summary paper, those who undertake an honors project will have an opportunity to either build upon prior research or engage in a new research program during senior year. The honors work will deepen engagement with a research project and more fully introduce students to the process of creating new knowledge through independent research.

To qualify for the honors program, students must have and maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.4. Potential honors students should complete the EARTHSYS 111 Biology and Global Change and EARTHSYS 112 Human Society and Environmental Change sequence by the end of the junior year. Qualified students can apply in Spring Quarter of the junior year, or the fourth quarter before graduation by submitting a detailed research proposal and a brief statement of support from a faculty research adviser.

Students who elect to do an honors thesis should begin planning no later than Winter Quarter of the junior year. Applications for 2015-16 are due by May 2, 2016. Before applying, review the Earth Systems Honors Guide, a quarter-by-quarter honors timeline to support the completion of the Earth Systems honors thesis.

A maximum of 9 units is awarded for thesis research through EARTHSYS 199 Honors Program in Earth Systems. Those 9 units may not substitute for any other required parts of the Earth Systems curriculum. All theses are evaluated for acceptance by the thesis faculty adviser and one additional faculty member, who is the second reader. Both the adviser and second reader must be members of the Academic Council. Acceptance into the Honors program is not a guarantee of graduating with the honors designation. The thesis must be accepted and approved by both readers and the Director of Earth Systems, and a minimum overall GPA of 3.4 must be maintained.

Honors students are required to present their research preferably through the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences' Annual Thesis Symposium, which highlights undergraduate and graduate research in the school. Faculty advisers are encouraged to sponsor presentation of student research results at professional society meetings.

Further Questions? Contact:

Dr. Kevin Arrigo
Donald & Donald M. Steel Professor in Earth Sciences
Victoria and Roger Sant Director, Earth Systems Program
Gerhard Casper University Fellow in Undergraduate Education
Professor, Department of Environmental Earth System Science
Yang and Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building, Room 141
(650) 723-3599