Degree Requirements

2018 - 2019

Departmental Guidelines and Goals

In the Department of Geosciences we investigate the Earth in the broadest sense: how it formed, how it evolved and continues to evolve, how Earth systems interact to produce the environment in which we live, and how present and future changes may affect the habitability of Earth. The central goal of the department is to educate students about the nature and history of the Earth, the processes that shape the Earth, and the impacts those processes have on human populations.

An understanding of the Earth is an important component of global citizenship. Many critical environmental issues face humanity, including global climate change, water shortages, loss of arable land, natural hazards such as earthquakes and flooding, and the availability of petroleum and other energy resources. Citizens and professionals with training in the geosciences will contribute to addressing these and other problems, while increasing opportunities for humans to live sustainably on the Earth.

The department provides non-majors with a basic knowledge of the Earth and Earth processes that will serve their needs as future citizens and community leaders. Geoscience majors and minors develop a strong background in the geosciences in preparation for employment opportunities in fields such as environmental science, geotechnical engineering, exploration for natural resources, geologic research, environmental law, and earth science teaching. Many geoscience graduates continue their training in graduate school; others enter the work force directly.

Geosciences Major

There are two possible paths to the bachelor's degree in Geoscience: a Bachelor of Science in anticipation of advanced study in the Geosciences, or a Bachelor of Arts for those who seek a less specialized course of study. Earning a B.A. degree does not preclude a professional career in the Geosciences, although admission to some graduate programs may require completion of additional science and mathematics courses.

A student may graduate with a B.S. degree by taking

One 100 level introductory geoscience course e.g.:
GEOS 111Planet Earth
GEOS 112Special Topics in the Geosciences
GEOS 114Special Topics in the Geosciences
two foundation courses:
GEOS 210Historical Geology
GEOS 211Rocks & Minerals
six elective GEOS courses, at least three of which must be at the 300 level;
GEOS 380Geoscience Senior Seminar
and a geoscience field course
GEOS 400Field Course
Required additional science courses are four courses from:
CHEM 131Atoms and Molecules: Structure and Dynamics
CHEM 132Organic Structure and Reactivity
CS 111Discovering Computer Science: Scientific Data and Dynamics
BIOL 210Molecular Biology and Unicellular Life
BIOL 220Multicellular Life
BIOL 230Ecology and Evolution
MATH 135Single Variable Calculus
MATH 145Multi-variable Calculus
MATH 220Applied Statistics
PHYS 121General Physics I
PHYS 122General Physics II
PHYS 125Principles of Physics I
PHYS 126Principles of Physics II

Students who want to pursue graduate study in the geosciences are strongly encouraged to take additional math and science courses beyond this minimum requirement.

Students seeking a B.A. degree must take one 100 level introductory geoscience course (see above); two foundation courses (see above); six elective GEOS courses, at least three of which must be at the 300 level; and GEOS 380 - Geoscience Senior Seminar. One cognate science course may be substituted for a 200 level elective GEOS course.

Both B.S. and B.A. students are required to pass a comprehensive exam, administered early in the second semester of the senior year.

Note that most upper level geoscience courses are offered in alternate years. Therefore careful schedule planning is important, especially if one pursues a semester of off-campus study.

Geosciences Minor

To minor in the Geosciences, a student must take one 100 level introductory geoscience course, GEOS 210 - Historical Geology,GEOS 211 - Rocks & Minerals and three additional Geosciences courses at the 200 or 300 level.

Additional Points of Interest

Geosciences has a long tradition of field trips during the fall and spring semester.  Recent trips include Hawaii, coastal Maine, Arizona & Utah, the Bahamas, Death Valley, the Great Smoky Mountains and the Adirondacks.  

Abundant student research opportunities are available, including working with faculty in the field or laboratory.  Student employment opportunities within the department include working as teaching and laboratory assistants, and assisting in developing and maintaining departmental collections.

The C.L. Herrick Geological Society is an active, student-run organization, which coordinates guest lectures and social events throughout the academic year.

What's Happening


A Volcanic Disneyland

Geoscience Prof. Erik Klemetti shares the story of how he got his start as a volcanologist - someone who studies volcanos.

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