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Geosciences Advising


At Dickinson, we offer an innovative geosciences program where you will learn to reconstruct the past, investigate the present, and model the future of our planet. As a discipline, the geosciences span and integrate the study of the five major Earth systems: the atmosphere, hydrosphere (oceans and freshwater), geosphere (rocks and soils), biosphere (organisms), and cryosphere (glaciers and ice sheets). In addition to uncovering how natural systems work, geoscientists also study how human societies affect and are affected by the planet we live on. 

Geoscientists are essential for addressing many of the critical needs our global community faces surrounding climate change, clean water, sustainable energy, food security, natural hazards and more. However, the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) predicts that, by 2029, the US workforce will have a shortage of nearly 130,000 geoscientists. Here at Dickinson, we look to train the next generation of geoscientists and scholars who will address many of the grand challenges of the 21st century. Come join us!

Courses appropriate for prospective majors

  • GEOS 151, Foundations of Earth Sciences
  • GEOS 141, Earth's Hazards
  • GEOS 142, Earth's Changing Climate

For course descriptions and requirements for the major, refer to the Academic Bulletin: Geosciences.

Courses that fulfill distribution requirements

Introductory courses that fulfill the Laboratory Science (Division III) distribution requirement include:

  • GEOS 121, Habitable Worlds 
  • GEOS 141, Earth's Hazards
  • GEOS 142, Earth's Changing Climate
  • GEOS 151, Foundations of Earth Sciences

In addition most of our courses fulfill a variety of sustainability (SINV and SINE) requirements. 

Suggested curricular flow through the major

The GEOS major was designed with the requisite flexibility to enable our students to study abroad for either a semester or a full academic year if desired. Aside from introductory courses and the capstone credits, the courses required for the geoscience major may be taken in any order.

For incoming students planning to pursue geosciences as a major, we suggest the following courses during the first year:

  • GEOS 151
  • GEOS 141 or 142
  • One ancillary course (e.g.,CHEM 131, MATH 121, MATH 170, or PHYS 131)*
  • One 200-level GEOS elective

For students beginning the major as sophomores we suggest taking the following courses during their second year: 

  • GEOS 151
  • GEOS 141 or 142
  • 1-2 ancillary courses (e.g.,CHEM 131, MATH 121, MATH 170, or PHYS 131)*
  • 1-2 GEOS courses above the 100-level (may be electives or core courses)

*There are two primary tracks within the major: the Environmental Geoscience track and the Geoscience track. These two tracks differ primarily in the ancillary courses they require in CHEM, MATH, and/or PHYS. See here for the specific ancillary requirements of each track.

All GEOS majors must complete:

  • 2 introductory courses (GEOS 151 and GEOS 141 or 142)
  • 4 courses from the Geosciences core (GEOS 302, 305, 309, 331, or 333/335). Typically every core course is offered once every 2 years. One to two core courses are offered every semester (usually 3 per academic year)
  • 3 GEOS electives
  • CHEM 131 or 141
  • A capstone experience: Research, Internship, Field Camp**
  • the appropriate ancillary courses for the track selected:
    • Geoscience track: MATH 121, MATH 170, and PHYS 131/141
    • Environmental Geoscience track: MATH 121 or MATH 170, GISP/GEOS/ARCH 218

**Capstone Experiences: In recognition of our students' diverse interests and aspirations, we offer students the ability to fulfill their capstone experience through one of three experiential options between their junior spring and senior spring: completing an independent or student-faculty research project (including writing a thesis), doing an approved internship, or enrolling in an approved off-campus field camp.

Students pursing research as a capstone will need to complete:

  • 1/2 credit of GEOS 550 or 560 during their junior spring semester
  • 1/2 credit of GEOS 550 or 560 during their senior fall semester

Students pursing an internship as a capstone will need to complete:

  • 1 credit of GEOS 500 in senior fall or spring. Credit is accrued in the fall for internships completed in the summer between junior and senior year and in the spring for internships taking place in the fall of senior year.

Students pursing field camp a capstone will need to complete:

  • an approved off-campus field camp course during the summer between their junior and senior year. 


Students pursuing independent or student-faculty research projects as their capstone may be considered for departmental honors if their resulting thesis demonstrates superior quality of work. Your advisor can nominate your thesis for Honors consideration at the end of the fall semester of your senior year based on your capstone research project. To be considered for Honors, you must have a cumulative GPA across the College of 3.5. Only students doing independent or student faculty research for the capstone can be considered for Honors (i.e., either GEOS 550 or 560). Honors will be awarded by vote of department faculty after a thesis defense.

Independent study and independent research

Many of our students pursue independent or student-faculty research projects during the course of their GEOS major. Although the majority of research projects are completed as capstone experiences, there are often opportunities and funding for students to engage in research activities as early as their sophomore year. Interested students should contact departmental faculty to find out what kind of research opportunities are available. Students involved in research often present their work at local, national, and international conferences.


Internships are a popular way for GEOS majors to fulfill their capstone requirement and are highly encouraged by the department. GEOS majors have interned at state and federal agencies, environmental consulting companies, and more. Students interested in pursuing internships at any stage of their degree can reach out to departmental faculty for assistance in finding appropriate internships. Students wishing to use an internship for fulfill their capstone requirement must have the internship approved by the department and follow the department guidelines for receiving credit.

Co-curricular activities/programs

Each year the department sponsors a variety of field trips for majors and those taking certain geosciences courses.

These trips include excursions sponsored through the Arctic and Alpine Climate Change Research Program (AACCRE) and by the The David and Cary Cassa Fund. Recent trips through AACCRE include Hoodo Mountain, British Columbia, Ellesmere Island, and Iceland. Recent trips through the Cassa fund include Costa Rica and Arizona and New Mexico

There is also a Geology Club, a student-run group that organizes field trips and arranges for speakers during the year. Any Dickinson student may join the group, and it is common for some non-majors to belong. 

Opportunities for off-campus study

To be an effective Geoscientist, it benefits you to have seen as much of the planet as possible. This helps you appreciate the atmospheric, hydrospheric, biospheric, and geospheric diversity of our planet.  With proper advance planning and declaring your major early, you can take some interesting courses abroad and see more of the world

Additional Remarks

To learn more about our Geo Sciences departmental offerings, check out the links below: