Oregon State University

College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences

Earth Sciences Major with Climate Science Option

ice core

The Earth's climate is an often unacknowledged backdrop for our lives. It influences the food we eat, the places we live, and our nation's economy and security. Our planet has been warming over the past few decades, driven primarily by human activities, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. These changes are impacting ecosystems, human health, agriculture and forestry, fresh water availability, sea level, energy supply and demand, and transportation infrastructure. In the Climate Science option, students will develop a deep understanding of the climate system, as well as skills that can be applied to climate mitigation and adaptation solutions.

Climate science is inherently interdisciplinary; the Earth's climate results from complex interactions among the atmosphere, oceans, land, ice, ecosystems, and people. Climate scientists collect data in locations ranging from the poles to the tropics, study satellite and ice core records, and perform simulations of the future climate using advanced computer models.

The Climate Science option is built on a strong foundation of physical climate system science as well as an emphasis on the intersection of climate with biological, social, political, and economic systems. All students participate in "hands-on" experiential learning through field classes, project focused classes such as Climate Data Analysis and Climate Modeling, and senior research or internships. A broad set of electives allows students to pursue additional course work to prepare them in their specific areas of interest.

Degree Requirements

Experiential Learning Opportunities

Undergraduate students in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences can participate in a wide variety of enriching experiences outside the classroom including internships, research projects, experiential study-abroad, volunteer, student leadership and campus involvement, student employment/work-study, and other professional development opportunities. Depending on the experience, students may earn academic credit for their work. For more information, see Research and Internships.

Career Opportunities

Some students may choose to pursue advanced degrees in related disciplines, whereas others will enter the job market directly. For example, an Earth Science degree with a Climate Science option prepares students for jobs with:

  • Climate, environmental, sustainability, and other consulting firms
  • NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) regional offices
  • Federal, state and local governments/agencies
  • Renewable energy companies
  • Nonprofits/NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations)
  • Graduate school in climate and related fields
  • Science outreach and education