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Degree Requirements




Associate Professor Erik K. Klemetti, Chair

Associate Professor David H. Goodwin; Professor David C. Greene; Assistant Professor Ellen P. Chamberlin; Assistant Professor Matthew C. Jungers; Academic Administrative Assistant Ann Caldwell

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. by taking one 100 level introductory geoscience course (e.g., GEOS 110, 111, 112, 114); two foundation courses GEOS 210 and 211; six elective GEOS courses, at least three of which must be at the 300 level; GEOS 380, the Senior Geoscience Seminar; and a geoscience field course (GEOS 400). Required additional science courses are CHEM 131 plus three courses from CHEM 132, BIOL 201-202, MATH 123-124, and PHYS 121-122 or 126-127. 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, the Senior Geoscience 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 (see above), GEOS 210, and four additional courses in the Geosciences at the 200 or 300 level.

Major in Geosciences (Geophysics Concentration)

Students with an interest in this program should consult with the Geoscience and Physics chairpersons no later than their sophomore year.


Geography is a non-major field at Denison. A student who wants to pursue geography and related environmental/planning fields may follow the B.A. in Geosciences with a geography emphasis and a minor in a field such as Economics, Environmental Studies, History or Anthropology and Sociology; or develop an individually designed major in consultation with the Geoscience faculty. The curriculum is rich enough to allow geoscience majors to enter graduate schools of geography or regional and urban planning.

Additional Points of Interest

Abundant student research opportunities are available, including working with faculty in the field or laboratory, involvement with the Oak Ridge Science Semester described at link [ornl], and a variety of summer internships. 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.

Safety glasses will be required for some field work and laboratory work.

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