College Admissions Survey: Acceptance of High School Earth Science Courses

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AGI contacted 262 four-year institutions of higher learning to determine whether or not they accept a high school Earth science course for admission. At least three schools were contacted per state (state schools as well as private institutions). As of May 8, 2011, 226 schools responded. (This study is ongoing.) The preliminary results indicate that 77.0% of the surveyed institutions accept high school Earth science courses, but there can be conditions on that acceptance. Almost 1/3 of those schools stating they accept an Earth science course for admission require that it must be "laboratory-based." To date, only 5.8 percent of schools responding to the survey do not accept an Earth science course for college admission.

Survey of college admission requirements in the U.S., preliminary results (May 2011). Source: American Geological Institute, 2011.

Some reasons given by four-year institutions for not accepting high school Earth science courses included:

  1. Earth science is not a laboratory course, according to the institutions’ definitions of what a laboratory course must include.
  2. There is no Earth science Advanced Placement examination.
  3. Earth science is perceived as not being as "rigorous" as biology, chemistry, and physics.
Date updated: 2011-05-20
Data Brief 2011-004
Written by Ann Benbow for AGI, May 2011

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