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Programs of Study

Concentration Recommendations

The Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences offers four programs:

  • the Geological Sciences major, intended for students who wish to pursue graduate study in geology and related fields or entry level employment;
  • the Geology major, which emphasizes breadth and flexibility for students seeking a double major, teaching certification, medical programs, careers in multidisciplinary fields such as environmental law, or a broad-based liberal arts major;
  • the Geoscience minor intended for students whose primary major is Archaeology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Quantitative Economics, or Physics, complementing the foundation that these programs provide; and
  • the Geology minor, for engineering majors.

Students considering a major in Geology or Geological Sciences should discuss their course selections with a faculty member in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences. This is particularly important because some upper level courses are offered in alternate years. Careful planning will give students the opportunity to participate in more course offerings, optional field trips, and student-faculty research as an undergraduate.

Please follow the program links above or download the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences Handbook (pdf ~4.5 MB)

Educational Goals

The Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences provides our students with an education in both the science of Geology as well as more general skills in scientific reasoning and expression. The lists below enumerate our goals for a student's general education, and the fundamental knowledge in Geology which we strive to convey through courses and practical experiences including research, field work, and lab work.

General Education Goals in Earth and Ocean Sciences

  1. The ability to write and to verbally and visually communicate in a scientific format.
  2. The ability to read technical geologic literature and to gather detailed information on a geologic subject.
  3. The ability to read geologic and topographic maps and cross sections and hold a basic understanding of how they are produced.
  4. The ability to critique geologic information and make decisions about its accuracy and implications for real world situations.
  5. A basic understanding of quantitative problem-solving methods in geology, including the use of graphical data and techniques and computer software/hardware.
  6. A fundamental understanding of how analytical laboratory methods may be applied to solving geologic problems.
  7. The ability to collect, synthesize, and display geologic field, laboratory, and analytical observations and data leading to the formulation of supportable geologic hypotheses.
  8. The ability to weigh and develop tests of one's own and existing hypotheses regarding geologic processes and events, and the ability to apply sound hypotheses to real world problem solving.
  9. The development of a sense of honesty, responsibility, and integrity in the treatment of geologic data and in the development of hypotheses and recommendations for the public or as a future employee and citizen

Fundamental Knowledge Requirements in Earth and Ocean Sciences

  1. Visual identification of common minerals, sediments, and rock types in outcrops, hand specimens, and under a microscope.
  2. Geologic time and the overall history of the Earth including the general evolution of organisms.
  3. The historical development of some major concepts in geology, and how thought processes and interpretations can change over time.
  4. Composition of the Earth, both its interior and crustal level materials and how they are formed including an appreciation of how igneous rocks form and how to interpret them.
  5. Structure of the Earth, both its interior and at the crustal level and how we know about this structure.
  6. Plate tectonics and how deformation and metamorphism occurs in Earth's crust as well as how to interpret metamorphic rocks.
  7. Earth's surface and near-surface processes including how they impact environmental and societal concerns, and how water is distributed, stored, and migrates in hydrologic systems.
  8. The fundamental ways in which soils, sediments, and sedimentary rocks are produced and how to interpret them.
  9. The Earth's climates and the history of climate change as recorded in geologic data/observations.