The Major

Faculty in the Geosciences Department are committed to providing excellent training for future geoscientists as well as teaching earth science as part of a balanced liberal arts education for non-majors. Introductory and advanced courses in geology, oceanography, and earth systems introduce students to the wide fields of geosciences, both for general education and as a foundation for majoring in the department.

The department consists of several faculty members and staff and about 20 junior and senior majors. Faculty are devoted to teaching and working with undergraduates, but are also active, publishing researchers. Undergraduates have ample opportunities to work on original research and often co-author publications or present their work at national professional meetings, even before graduation.

In the Geosciences major, students will have the opportunity to:

  • Make observations and measurements of the natural environment
  • Understand the major processes that shape the planet
  • Understand the role of time in shaping Earth systems, on scales from billions of years to seconds.
  • Trace connections between different Earth system components, and realise how Chemistry, Physics and Biology are intertwined in the Geosciences
  • Learn and practice good habits of data collection and analysis
  • Learn to formulate testable hypotheses in the Geosciences
  • Learn to solve problems using quantitative methods and logical reasoning
  • Learn about modern analytic methods and equipment
  • Participate effectively in collaborative problem solving
  • Present work formally, both orally and in writing
  • Use scientific literature to interpret and discuss research


Required Courses

Majors take at least nine courses in Geosciences. The required courses give students a chance to work with each of the faculty members in Geosciences, as well as providing a sound foundation of general understanding and specific knowledge in the earth sciences. Additionally, majors planning on attending graduate school should take at least a year each of college math, chemistry, and physics or biology, and should think about taking a summer field camp. Interested students should talk to one of the faculty members or contact the chair.

Components of the Geosciences major

At most two 100-level courses:

  • Geosciences 101 Co-evolution of Earth and Life
  • Geosciences 102 An Unfinished Planet
  • Geosciences 103 Global Warming & Natural Disasters
  • Geosciences 104 Oceanography

At least two 200-level courses from this group:

  • Geosciences 201 Geomorphology
  • Geosciences 202 Mineralogy and Geochemistry
  • Geosciences 212 Paleobiology
  • Geosciences 214 Geographic Information Systems
  • Geosciences 215 Climate Changes

At least two 300-level courses from this group:

  • Geosciences 301 Structural Geology
  • Geosciences 302 Sedimentation
  • Geosciences 303 Igneous & Metamorphic Petrology
  • Geosciences 311 Geobiology

At least one 400-level senior seminar:

  • Geosciences 401 Global Tectonics and the Rise of Mountains
  • Geosciences 405 Geochemistry: Understanding Earth’s Environment

Enough courses from this group to bring the total to nine:

  • Geosciences 205 Earth Resources
  • Geosciences 206 Renewable Energy/Sustainable Campus
  • Geosciences 217T Planetary Geology
  • Geosciences 218T The Carbon Cycle & Climate
  • Geosciences 312T Mass Extinctions
  • Geosciences 401 Global Tectonics and the Rise of Mountains
  • Geosciences 493/494 Senior Thesis
  • Geosciences 497/498 Independent Study

What courses are currently being offered?

See the Courses page for the complete list of current department offerings.

What can I do with a Geosciences Major?

Take a look through Geosciences Alumni Careers.