This information is part of the Colgate University catalog, 2023–24.
Geology majors explore Earth systems and the environment, from the planet's rocky surface and interior, to water in the hydrosphere, climate and the atmosphere, and the interplay between the biosphere and abiotic systems. Geology is the scientific study of Earth materials (such as minerals, rocks, and fossils) and planet-scale processes uncovered through Earth-observing data derived from satellites, geophysical instruments, and models. Geology coursework explains how past and present-day ecosystems and environments have been and continue to be shaped by plate tectonics, volcanism, mountain building, climate change, evolution, and human activity through time.
The geology major typically starts with any 100-level Geology or geology-related Core SP courses, which typically counts towards the major as one of the five (5) additional full-credit GEOL courses below.
All majors must complete the following set of requirements:
All of the Following
- GEOL 190 - Evolution of Planet Earth and GEOL 190L (ideally taken before the end of sophomore year)
- GEOL 201 - Mineralogy and Geochemistry and GEOL 201L
- GEOL 215 - Paleontology of Marine Life and GEOL 215L
- GEOL 225 - Sedimentology and Surficial Processes and GEOL 225L
- GEOL 235 - Tectonics and Earth Structure and GEOL 235L
- Five (5) additional full-credit GEOL courses of which one can be at any level, at least 2 must be at the 300 level as listed below, at least 2 must be at the 400 level as listed below.
300-level Geology Electives
At least two courses from the following:
- GEOL 301 - Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology and GEOL 301L
- GEOL 310 - Environmental Economic Geology
- GEOL 311 - Environmental Geophysics
- GEOL 320 - Techniques of Field Geology
GEOL 335 - Hydrology and Geomorphology
and GEOL 335L
Students are encouraged to consider taking a summer field course, such as GEOL 320, as one of their elective courses, as field experience is expected of some graduate programs and employment opportunities in the geosciences.
400-level Geology Electives
At least two courses from the following:
- GEOL 303 - Geochemistry
- GEOL 411 - Isotopes in the Earth Sciences
- GEOL 416 - Marine Geology and GEOL 416L
- GEOL 420 - Solid Earth Processes
- GEOL 441 - Senior Research Seminar
- GEOL 450 - Paleoclimatology
Two Additional Courses
Two full-credit courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, or physics. GEOG 245 - Geographic Information Systems , may be taken in place of one of the required biology, chemistry, mathematics, or physics courses.
The two required 400-level courses provide a capstone experience for the geology major, as all such courses involve a significant project that integrates hypothesis testing, data collection and/or analysis of existing data, literature review, and a final project that synthesizes this work. A senior thesis conducted with an Earth and Environmental Geosciences faculty member as an adviser through GEOL 441 may count as one of the required 400–level courses and is required for all geology honors candidates. Students can initiate a senior research project of interest by speaking directly to a faculty member about ideas for a research project or by consulting with a faculty member about a project that might arise from a summer internship, a summer employment experience, or be based on research initiated in a departmental course. GEOL 491 may not count towards the 400–level course requirement.
A GPA of 2.00 in the major is necessary for graduation. The ten full-credit courses that carry the highest grade are used to compute this average. A passing grade must be received in all courses counted toward the major.
Honors and High Honors
Students interested in pursuing honors can find the additional requirements on the Earth and Environmental Geosciences department page.
Earth and Environmental Geosciences Department
For more information about the department, including faculty, transfer credit, awards, etc., please visit the Earth and Environmental Geosciences department catalog page.