Jul 17, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog 
2023-2024 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geophysics, BS

Location(s): WWU - Bellingham

Department of Geology, College of Science and Engineering

100-110 credits


A Geoscientist is someone who studies the Earth’s physical makeup and history. Geology is the science that provides the key to finding new sources of useful Earth materials and to understanding Earth processes that affect our lives. Geoscientists provide basic information to society for solving problems and establishing policy for resource management, environmental protection, public health, safety and welfare.

Geoscientists are curious about the Earth. How was it formed? How is it changing? What effects will shrinking glaciers have on the oceans and climate? How do islands form? What makes a continent move? Why did the dinosaurs become extinct? What makes a mountain?

Geoscientists are concerned about the Earth. How severe will the global warming trend be? How and where should we dispose industrial wastes? How can we fill society’s growing demands for energy and conserve natural resources for future generations?

Geoscientists enjoy the Earth. It is an outdoor laboratory filled with opportunities to observe Earth processes in action. By applying knowledge of forces that shape the Earth, Geoscientists seek to reconstruct the past and anticipate the future.

Why Consider a Geophysics Major?

Do you like to know why and how things work? Do you enjoy the outdoors? Are you interested in the structure of Earth and other planets? Do natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides interest you? Do you like to analyze things? Are science and nature among your favorite subjects? If you answer “yes” to most of these questions the geosciences could offer a good career for you.

This program is recommended for students who are interested in the use of physics as a means of understanding a range of geological processes. Geophysics is distinct from Geology in that a more intensive set of Math and Physics courses, and applications of these skills, are required. Students who complete this degree will be prepared to continue to graduate studies in geology, geophysics, planetary geology/geophysics, physics, or other related fields, or to enter into industry. Students are strongly encouraged to complete a senior thesis project as part of this degree, providing them with an excellent capstone experience. Declaration of this major requires a completed advising session with a Geophysics faculty advisor.

 Contact Information

Department Chair
Bernie Housen
Environmental Studies 240A

Undergraduate Program Coordinator
Hye In Park
Environmental Studies 240

 Sample Careers

U.S. Geological Survey | Departmental of Natural Resources | Oil Exploration | Mining Geologist | NASA | U.S. Forest Service | Engineering Geologist | NOAA

 Major/Career Resources


How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

Phase I: Students in good academic standing can declare as a Geophysics Phase I major at any time except for during Phase I registration. The Geology Department does not declare new majors or minors during Phase I registration. Students must apply to the department for admission to the major. Students are admitted to the Geophysics BS major following a completed advising session with a Geophysics faculty advisor.

Phase II: Students who wish to earn the BS Geophysics degree must complete a set of preparatory courses for admission into Phase II of the degree program. Students must earn a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher in this set of preparatory courses, and be in good academic standing, for successful admission.

Preparatory courses for BS Geophysics:

  • GEOL 211, GEOL 352
  • PHYS 161, PHYS 162
  • MATH 124

Grade Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major or minor courses, and supporting courses for majors and minors.


Senior Thesis

GEOL 490 - Senior Thesis  

An undergraduate thesis is an excellent way to develop research skills, establish closer working relationships with faculty, and gain a more in-depth knowledge of geology. Completion of a thesis is also a notable achievement that highlights a student’s ability to do research, providing tangible evidence of research ability to either graduate schools or potential employers. Thesis options are available for the BA and BS degrees in geology. Students interested in pursuing a senior thesis should contact potential advisors during their junior year to discuss possible thesis topics. A formal application to the department must be made, and accepted, prior to the start of the thesis project.

Departmental Honors

BA or BS students and students in the University Honors College who have completed at least 4 credits of GEOL 490 and have a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher meet the requirements for departmental honors. Those students who have completed at least 4 credits of GEOL 490 and have a cumulative GPA higher than 3.20 meet the requirements for departmental distinction.