The Department of Earth Sciences views its program as a flexible one that allows students to develop a plan of study according to their interests (tracks include geoscience, environmental geoscience, education, and student-developed) around a required set of core courses. We offer a variety of courses that are appropriate for majors and non-majors.
Introductory courses appropriate for prospective majors
Students usually begin the study of earth sciences with 100-level courses. Introductory courses that fulfill the Division III Laboratory Science distribution requirement or the Quantitative Reasoning requirement include:
ERSC 141 Planet Earth
ERCS 142 Earth History
For course descriptions and requirements for the major, refer to the Academic Bulletin: Earth Sciences.
Opportunities for off-campus study
Some of our majors spend a semester or more in off-campus study. The right place for the right person can result in a richly rewarding experience, but it can also result in delays in completion of important courses for tracks within the major. One recommended off-campus study program is the Dickinson Science Program at the University of East Anglia, England; Professor Grant Braught is the present on-campus director. Other suitable programs are the Dickinson program in Queensland, Australia, and the Earth Sciences program at the University of Otago, New Zealand. A caution: Students who contemplate off-campus study should discuss their plans with one or more of the department faculty as early as possible.
Independent study and independent research
Most of our majors do an Independent Study or Research project during their junior or senior year. Students may ask any faculty member in the department to supervise a project. Ideally, you should try to contact the faculty member during the previous semester to make arrangements for advisement. Seniors are required to complete one of three capstone experiences: independent research, completion of a pre-approved field camp, or a semester of student teaching (education track only).
The geosciences provide many opportunities for internships. Historically internships have been arranged with state and federal geologic agencies in Harrisburg and local environmental consulting and geotechnical companies. See any member of the department faculty for possible arrangements.
Preparation for graduate study
Virtually all graduate programs in earth sciences expect incoming students to have a firm foundation in Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics. The department strongly encourages students who plan to continue in graduate school to complete one year in each of the ancillary sciences and to start early in their earth sciences career at Dickinson.
Related activities: The Geology Club is 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.
Early each fall, the department sponsors a weekend field trip for majors and those taking intro earth science courses. Recent trips have explored the Folded Appalachians and the Chesapeake Bay area. In most years, a group of students and one or more faculty members get together for a field trip to some area of geologic interest either during Spring Break or early in summer break. Recent trips have included Hawaii, Yellowstone and Tetons area of Wyoming, the United Kingdom, southern California, Iceland, and Sicily. The field trip costs are partly subsidized by the department’s Cassa Field Trip Endowment.
Careers: In addition to graduate education for university teaching and research, environmental law or medicine, recent graduates are employed in environmental and geotechnical consulting, the energy and mining industries, State and U.S. Geological surveys, and other governmental agencies involved in environmental science and policy.
Additional Information on independent study, research, and other academic issues may be obtained from the department website.