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The New Geosciences Program

The Geosciences curriculum has been revised!

The newly expanded curriculum comprises a total of six “options” that allow students to concentrate on different topics in geosciences. Included are two brand new options, one in Environmental and Engineering Geosciences, and another in Geobiology and Paleobiology. They join the four existing options in Earth Science EducationGeochemistryGeology, and Geophysics, which have also been revised and updated. 

After collecting feedback from recent alumni and employers, the Department has developed a new option called Environmental and Engineering Geosciences that is designed to put majors on a direct path to become licensed as a professional geologist. This option will provide students with the necessary skills to pursue careers in environmental and geotechnical consulting, the energy and mining sectors, or with government research or regulatory agencies. 

A new option in Geobiology and Paleobiology is for students who are passionate about understanding the interactions of life and the environment throughout Earth history. In addition to studying topics in biology and geology, students apply state-of-the-art imaging and other analytical tools to characterize and reconstruct past life. Careers include environmental consulting, research at universities and museums, journalism, and further training in medical, dental, and veterinary school.

The previously existing four options in Earth Science Education, Geochemistry, Geology, and Geophysics have also been revised to attract and meet the needs of new majors. Two of the options are designed to give students a broad base in geosciences. The Geology option trains students to think generally and critically about the integration of Earth processes happening today and in the past. The knowledge and skills developed can be used to explain past and present phenomena and solve current and future geological problems. Earth Science Education is perfect for those students who see themselves as future K-12 educators. In addition to geosciences content knowledge, students learn pedagogical methods and gain practical experience in formal and informal educational settings. 

Two more specialized options are tailored for students with interests in the physical sciences. Geochemistry is ideal for students who enjoy chemistry and are interested in applying chemical knowledge, tools, and methods to geoscience questions and environmental problems. Likewise, students in Geophysics use principles of physics to probe Earth’s interior, study important processes like earthquakes, volcanoes, and tectonics, and explore for new economic resources. They also investigate how the Earth’s surface and subsurface are affected by climate extremes and human activities.   

The six options reflect core areas of strength in research and education in the department, and  are designed to tap into students’ passions and interests in modern questions and issues related to Earth, life, and the environment. These options also open a wide range of career opportunities for students in the environmental, energy, and mining sectors, in academic and government research, and education, among others. The demand for highly skilled and trained geoscientists will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. For example, the federal government projects 8% growth in placement for high school teachers in Earth science through 2026. Salaries for geoscientists range from $49,000-$188,000, with the median salary being approximately $92,000 (2018 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

If you are interested in more details about any of the options for majors in the Department of Geosciences, please read more about our degree options here, look at the respective brochure using the links below, or contact April Newcomer, Advising and Enrollment Manager, 540-231-8824,