Launch a career that rocks
Learn about the fascinating and complex world under your feet by exploring topics such as geology, geophysics, geochemistry, and hydrogeology.
In its four billion year old history, the Earth has changed – sometimes slowly (such as mountain building) and sometimes with violent and sudden transformations that can be devastating (such as a meteorite impact). In Earth Sciences you'll learn about the make up of our planet, from rocks and soil to water and the effects of climate change. We depend upon resources that come from the Earth, such as minerals, oil, organic materials, gases, and the water we drink. Who finds these hidden and valuable resources? A geoscientist!
Dig deep with your choice of specialization: Geology, Geophysics, or Hydrogeology. And if you're up for it, apply your knowledge through the paid work experiences co-op offers.
When you graduate, you’ll be eligible for a Professional Geoscientist designation — and be ready to develop meaningful environmental protection plans, predict natural disasters, advance health standards for water, and more.
Meet the requirements for the Professional Geoscientist designation
Available as a major and minor
Ontario students: six Grade 12 U and/or M courses including
- English (ENG4U) (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Advanced Functions (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Calculus and Vectors (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Two of Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Space Science, Mathematics of Data Management, or Physics (Chemistry, Earth and Space Science, and/or Physics are recommended)
Admission averages: Low 80s
We recommend completing the Admission Information Form once you've applied.
Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements.
How to apply
Apply to Physical Sciences and select Earth Sciences as your major.
What will you learn?
Programs/majors in the Faculty of Science start right in first year. To select your program with confidence, here’s some handy info to get you started.
Skills you'll develop with this major
- Critical thinking
- Problem solving
- Fieldwork capabilities, including rock sampling and geological mapping
This isn't an exhaustive list – rather a glimpse into the skills an Earth Sciences major can provide.
Your experience will be unique, and the skills you develop will depend on your goals; which courses you take; and your involvement with any clubs, jobs, or research projects.
Types of courses you'll take
This is a general guideline. The ratio of courses may change slightly from year to year.
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Questions? Ask a student!
Contact a Science student ambassador to learn about their experience.
Ask them questions such as why they chose their program, what the classes are like, and how you can get involved on campus.
First-year courses and beyond (Geology specialization)
September to December
January to April
- EARTH 122/122L - Introductory Environmental Sciences/Laboratory
- CHEM 123/123L - General Chemistry 2/Laboratory
- MATH 128 - Calculus 2 for the Sciences
- ENGL 193/SPCOM 193 - Communication in the Sciences
- Choose one of:
After first year
Most of the classes you’ll take will be Earth Sciences courses. You must specialize in one of the program's three specializations: Geology, Geophysics, or Hydrogeology.
View a list of all the courses required for your degree.
Sample upper-year courses
Customize your Earth Sciences major
With your remaining classes, you can choose electives from many of the 100 subject areas at Waterloo. You can also add additional areas of expertise to your degree by including one of the minors available to all Waterloo students.
Co-op = relevant paid work experience
By alternating school terms and paid co-op work terms throughout your degree, you can explore new career areas and types of employers as your career interests evolve.
Sample co-op job titles
- Geophysical data processor
- Geological research assistant
- Land resource specialist
- Earth science museum tour guide
- Groundwater technician
- Environmental geoscientist
- Waste water project assistant
Sample co-op employers
- Trelawney Mining and Exploration
- Environment & Climate Change Canada
- Vale Inco
- Atomic Energy of Canada Limited
- City of Toronto
- Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
What can you do with an earth science degree?
Many graduates find careers in energy and natural resources, field research, environmental consulting, and more. Graduates can apply to become a certified Professional Geoscientist (P.Geo.) through the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario. Learn how to become a geologist or geoscientist.
Read about Carson's experience in Earth Science and what he plans to do after graduation on our Beyond Ideas website.
- Airborne Geophysicist, Firefly Aviation Ltd.
- Groundwater Specialist, BGC Engineering Inc.
- Partner/Hydrogeologist, Palmer Environmental Consulting Group Inc.
- Solutions Advisor, Geosoft Inc.
- Environment Supervisor, Diavik Diamond Mines Inc.
- Geologist, Lake Shore Gold
- Hydrogeologist, Morrison Environmental Limited
Learn about the future of careers in science.
What is the difference between Earth Sciences and Environmental Science?
Earth Sciences looks at the whole Earth, from the stratosphere down to the deep substrata in the lithosphere. Although you’ll learn about living creatures from mammals to tiny organisms and their relationship to the earth, the focus of Earth Sciences is the abiotic: minerals, rocks, water, and air. An Environmental Science degree focuses on the interrelationships between the biotic and abiotic aspects within ecosystems, including human impacts.
Earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Honours Earth Sciences
Offered through the Faculty of Science
Apply to Physical Sciences and select Earth Sciences as your major
Ready to learn more?
- Visit the Department of Earth Sciences website
- Related programs
Get career-relevant skills
Right from your first term, you’ll gain practical experience in our advanced lab facilities. Or take part in research: our professors run projects in 15 countries on five continents.
Meet other geo-geeks
Build bonds outside the lab and lecture hall. The Earth and Environmental Science club (WATROX) regularly organizes field trips, social activities, and other events.