Programs of Study
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 Environmental 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
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
Please follow the program links above or
download the FAQ (pdf ~4.5 MB)
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
- The ability to write and to verbally and visually
communicate in a scientific format.
- The ability to read technical geologic literature and to gather
detailed information on a geologic subject.
- The ability to read geologic and topographic maps and cross
sections and hold a basic understanding of how they are
- The ability to critique geologic information and make decisions
about its accuracy and implications for real world situations.
- A basic understanding of quantitative problem-solving
methods in geology, including the use of graphical data and
techniques and computer software/hardware.
- A fundamental understanding of how analytical laboratory methods
may be applied to solving geologic problems.
- The ability to collect, synthesize, and display geologic
field, laboratory, and analytical observations and data leading
to the formulation of supportable geologic hypotheses.
- 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.
- 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
- Visual identification of common minerals, sediments, and rock
types in outcrops, hand specimens, and under a microscope.
- Geologic time and the overall history of the Earth including the
general evolution of organisms.
- The historical development of some major concepts in geology, and
how thought processes and interpretations can change over time.
- 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.
- Structure of the Earth, both its interior and at the crustal level
and how we know about this structure.
- Plate tectonics and how deformation and metamorphism occurs in
Earth's crust as well as how to interpret metamorphic rocks.
- 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.
- The fundamental ways in which soils, sediments, and sedimentary
rocks are produced and how to interpret them.
- The Earth's climates and the history of climate change as recorded
in geologic data/observations.