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For Prospective Students

Frequently Asked Questions

What are classes like in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences?


Prof. Garven (left) leading students on a
field trip in his Groundwater course


Prof. Reuss leading a Petrology class

All students interested in majoring or minoring in our department need to take EOS 1 The Dynamic Earth and EOS 2 Environmental Geology. These courses can be taken in any order, and once you have completed them you have the prerequisites for most of our upper level courses. (You also would have satisfied the Natural Sciences distribution requirement for graduation.) The lecture classes for EOS 1 and 2 are comparatively large, typically enrolling 50 to 80 students (despite this, the professors generally learn the names of each student in the course). You will also be in a lab section, and here the enrollment is usually between 10 and 25 students. The labs complement and supplement the lecture part of the course, and include numerous demonstrations, working models, experimental activities, and several field trips.

Our upper level courses are small. There are usually fewer than 20 students enrolled, and the faculty members get to know the students well. Many of these courses have labs in which you undertake projects, prepare geologic reports, work with mineral, rock, and fossil samples, or gather data from experiments. There may also be homework problem sets for the course. We encourage students to work cooperatively in these courses (though each is responsible for his or her own work), and this promotes a very friendly atmosphere among our students. It is common for geology majors to come into Lane Hall in the evening or on weekends to do lab or course work, and some students consider the Department a home away from home.

We have high, but realistic expectations of our students. We provide support, advice, nudging, and encouragement. We expect students to work hard in our courses, and to supplement their EOS courses with the supporting sciences of chemistry, physics, and mathematics to get the most out of their education and to prepare for grad school or a career. Our faculty are committed to teaching, and take our mission to educate our students very seriously.

More information about Geology Courses: