Study Abroad for Earth Science Majors

It has been said that "the best geologist is the one who has seen the most rocks", therefore it is imperative for UCSB Earth Sciences majors to get out in the world and see what planet Earth is made of, how it works, and how other people regard and study it. The Earth sciences are international in scope and should be studied globally. The department has always encouraged its students to go abroad at an EAP partner university to complete some part of their departmental undergraduate required and elective courses.

Earth Sciences majors have chosen to study abroad in countries such as Chile, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, and England. With careful academic planning and application of study abroad units, Earth Sciences majors can have a unique academic experience at a foreign university with no loss of time in completing their UCSB degree.

Why study abroad?

UC’s Education Abroad Program offers Earth Sciences students a marvelous opportunity to study part of the Earth in one of 34 countries located on six continents. In recent years, Earth Sciences students have studied erupting volcanoes in Chile and Italy, glaciers in Norway, active faults in New Zealand, and classic geologic sites in Scotland. Some of the universities offer field trips to neighboring countries, such as to the Alps in Switzerland, and the fjords in Norway. You would be learning about geology in the field rather than from a book or virtually from a web site.

Where should I study abroad?

The universities in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom have splendid curricula that UC Earth Sciences majors have taken recently, particularly Melbourne in Australia; Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland in New Zealand; and Leeds and Edinburgh in England and Scotland, respectively. UC students have also had marvelous experiences at Santiago, Chile; Bologna, Italy; and Lund, Sweden. Some universities offer a more specialized Earth Sciences curriculum than others. For example, Lund specializes in Quaternary studies; some of the universities in Australia have courses in economic geology and mining; and some of the New Zealand universities are very strong in structural geology.

For a summary of programs for science majors, go to this UC EAP web site.

Students with the necessary preparation in a modern foreign language (normally two years at the university level) should strongly consider enrolling in an Earth Science program of study in Chile, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, or Sweden. The Earth Sciences is an international subject, and not every one in the world speaks or understands English. EAP offers a splendid opportunity to gain or improve language fluency while studying major subjects toward your Earth Sciences degree.

When should I study abroad?

The junior year is best because students have normally completed their lower division courses in the major and most of their General Education requirements, and still will have their senior year at UCSB to fulfill any requirements left undone
during their year abroad. With very careful planning and close consultation with the department’s EAP advisor, you may elect to study abroad in your senior year.

What classes should I take?

Keep in mind that at students in the College of Letters and Science must complete at least 20 units of upper-division major coursework (or 12 upper-division minor units) in residence at UCSB along with other residence requirements. Consult an advisor in the College of Letters & Science for more information.

All EAP coursework is automatically credited toward your degree requirements. The department’s EAP advisor will help you select partner university courses that will equate to departmental required and elective courses.

How do I get started?

Begin by identifying your goals for study abroad and then consult the EAP web pages ( to identify appropriate EAP programs. To find programs which offer particular disciplines or to search courses taken by EAP students over the last 5 years by subject, keyword and/or location, explore the resources found under Program Search and Course Catalog. Navigate to host universities’ web sites on the available links to learn more about the schools and their departments. 

Come by the EAP office at 2431 South Hall. Peer advisors who have recently returned from studying abroad as well as staff advisors are eager to answer your questions. Go see your Undergraduate Advisor in the department office and make an appointment to speak with an advisor in the College of Letters & Science. Additionally, you’ll want to meet with an advisor in the College of Letters & Science to discuss general education, residence and other requirements. 

Go see your department Undergraduate Advisor who will help you prepare a detailed study plan to allow completion of the B.S. or B.A. degree in Geological Science in four years.

Earth Science Department
Webb Hall, Room 1006
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Phone: (805) 893-4831

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