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College of Arts and Sciences


Photograph of large desert dunes.

Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences

The Earth and our impact on the planet is an increasingly complex issue. Through scientific study and public outreach we’re learning more about our environment, and helping others understand, too.

The environmental challenges of modern society are many.  Our mission at the School of the Earth, Ocean, and Environment (SEOE) is to achieve an understanding of the Earth’s diverse environments through research, and to convey that understanding through education and outreach to the broader public  community.  The School is designed to promote interdisciplinary collaborations  throughout the University and beyond, and to enhance partnerships with federal and state agencies and the private sector.

Approved by the Board of Trustees in December 2009, the SEOE includes the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, the Marine Science Program, the School of the Environment, the Belle Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences, and the Earth Sciences and Resources Institute.  These units contribute significantly to the University of South Carolina being ranked 21st nationally in terms of research and development expenditures in environmental sciences, according to a recent National Science Foundation (NSF) study.

Students in the SEOE have access to an unusually broad and diverse group of faculty, with more than 140 scholars from a range of synergistic disciplines. This university-wide platform for creative, interdisciplinary approaches to environmental issues helps equip students with the background and skills needed 

to address the pressing environmental challenges of the 21st century. 

Depending on their field of interest, undergraduate students can earn a B.S. degree in marine science, environmental science, geological sciences, or geophysics.  At the graduate level, the School offers the Ph.D. and the M.S. in geological sciences or marine science; the Master of Earth and Environmental Resource Management (M.E.E.R.M.) degree; and dual M.E.E.R.M. and Juris Doctor degrees in collaboration with the USC School of Law.  The latter is a streamlined program for students seeking both the Master’s and Law degree.

The SEOE plays a primary role in promoting awareness of environmental issues on campus.  It partnered, for example, with University Housing to build a “green dorm” that has won national acclaim for its use of sustainable technologies and practices for saving energy and resources.

We must learn to use the wealth of our earth, oceans, and the environment wisely in order to ensure a sustainable future for our children and generations beyond. 

Please take a tour of our website for details on how the  Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences is helping to do just that.