Geoscience

Major: Geoscience
Degree Awarded: Bachelor of Science (BS)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 183.0
Co-op Options: Three Co-op (Five years)
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 40.0699
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 11-9121

About the Program

From energy to climate change to environmental degradation, many of the most pressing societal issues of the coming century will pertain to geoscience. The study of the Earth is central to maintaining clean drinking water, mitigating environmental contamination, providing ores and rare elements necessary for industry, and locating new sources of energy.

The Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES) Department offers a major in geoscience designed to meet the needs of students wishing to pursue graduate school or immediate employment in the geosciences.

The core requirements encompass foundational courses in science, writing, and math, and traditional courses that form the backbone of the geosciences. Building upon these are innovative courses focused on Earth systems processes, key environmental issues, practical field experiences, and advanced geological study.

In addition to nourishing and honing the passions of students studying the Earth, the core curriculum is designed to:

  • Instill key technical skills early on as a pathway to high-quality co-op opportunities
  • Lay the groundwork for our students to pursue advanced graduate study in the geosciences and other disciplines
  • Enable our graduates to translate marketable skills and knowledge into high-quality jobs in industry and government

Geoscience majors will begin their field experiences during the first term of their freshmen year. Most courses include a laboratory section or a hands-on recitation section (“dry lab”), plus at least three field trips to relevant regional geological sites. These courses, combined with the co-op experience and summer geological field camp, provide students real-world experience in the field.

Additional Information

For more information about this program, visit the Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES) Department website.

 Degree Requirements

General Education Requirements
CIVC 101Introduction to Civic Engagement1.0
COM 230Techniques of Speaking3.0
COM 310 [WI] Technical Communication3.0
COOP 101Career Management and Professional Development1.0
ENGL 101Composition and Rhetoric I: Inquiry and Exploratory Research3.0
or ENGL 111 English Composition I
ENGL 102Composition and Rhetoric II: Advanced Research and Evidence-Based Writing3.0
or ENGL 112 English Composition II
ENGL 103Composition and Rhetoric III: Themes and Genres3.0
or ENGL 113 English Composition III
PHIL 340Environmental Ethics3.0
or PHIL 341 Environmental Philosophy
UNIV S101The Drexel Experience1.0
UNIV S201Looking Forward: Academics and Careers1.0
Humanities or Social Science electives6.0
Free electives24.0
Mathematics and Statistics
MATH 121Calculus I4.0
MATH 122Calculus II4.0
MATH 123Calculus III4.0
MATH 410Scientific Data Analysis I3.0
MATH 411Scientific Data Analysis II3.0
Computer Science
CS 150Computer Science Principles3.0
CS 171Computer Programming I3.0
Physical Sciences
CHEM 101General Chemistry I3.5
CHEM 102General Chemistry II4.5
CHEM 103General Chemistry III5.0
Complete one of the following Physics sequences:12.0
Fundamentals of Physics I
and Fundamentals of Physics II
and Fundamentals of Physics III
Introductory Physics I
and Introductory Physics II
and Introductory Physics III
Environmental Science
ENVS 101Introduction to Environmental Science5.0
ENVS 102Natural History, Research and Collections2.0
Geoscience Core Courses
GEO 101Physical Geology4.0
GEO 102History of the Earth4.0
GEO 103Introduction to Field Methods in Earth Science2.0
GEO 201 [WI] Earth Systems Processes3.0
GEO 215Mineralogy4.0
GEO 301Advanced Field Methods in Earth Science3.0
GEO 309Geochemistry4.0
GEO 312Sedimentology and Stratigraphy3.5
GEO 320Invertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoecology3.5
GEO 325Structural Geology5.0
GEO 401Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology5.0
GEO 375Field Camp6.0
GEO Electives28.0
Total Credits183.0

Writing-Intensive Course Requirements

In order to graduate, all students must pass three writing-intensive courses after their freshman year. Two writing-intensive courses must be in a student's major. The third can be in any discipline. Students are advised to take one writing-intensive class each year, beginning with the sophomore year, and to avoid “clustering” these courses near the end of their matriculation. Transfer students need to meet with an academic advisor to review the number of writing-intensive courses required to graduate.

A "WI" next to a course in this catalog may indicate that this course can fulfill a writing-intensive requirement. For the most up-to-date list of writing-intensive courses being offered, students should check the Writing Intensive Course List at the University Writing Program. Students scheduling their courses can also conduct a search for courses with the attribute "WI" to bring up a list of all writing-intensive courses available that term.

Sample Plan of Study

The sample plan of study is a general guideline that can be used for each of the three concentrations depending on course selections in certain terms.

5 year, 3 co-op

First Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
ENGL 101 or 1113.0CHEM 1013.5CHEM 1024.5VACATION
ENVS 1015.0CIVC 1011.0COOP 1011.0 
GEO 1014.0ENGL 102 or 1123.0ENGL 103 or 1133.0 
MATH 1214.0GEO 1024.0ENVS 1022.0 
UNIV S1011.0MATH 1224.0GEO 1032.0 
  MATH 1234.0 
 17 15.5 16.5 0
Second Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
CHEM 103 or 1015.0GEO 2013.0COOP EXPERIENCECOOP EXPERIENCE
PHYS 101 or 1524.0PHYS 102 or 1534.0  
CS 1503.0CS 1713.0  
GEO or Free elective3.0COM 2303.0  
 GEO or Free elective3.0  
 15 16 0 0
Third Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
PHYS 201 or 1544.0UNIV S2011.0COOP EXPERIENCECOOP EXPERIENCE
GEO 3123.5GEO 2154.0 GEO 3753.0
MATH 4103.0MATH 4113.0  
PHIL 340 or 3413.0GEO elective3.0  
 Free elective3.0  
 13.5 14 0 3
Fourth Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
COM 3103.0GEO 3094.0COOP EXPERIENCECOOP EXPERIENCE
GEO 3203.5GEO 3255.0 GEO 3753.0
GEO 4015.0Humanities/Social Science elective3.0  
Humanities/Social Science elective3.0Free elective3.0  
 14.5 15 0 3
Fifth Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCredits 
GEO 3013.0GEO electives7.0GEO electives8.0 
GEO electives7.0Free electives6.0Free electives6.0 
Free Elective3.0   
 13 13 14 
Total Credits 183

Co-Op/Career Opportunities

Co-Op Opportunities

There are over one hundred environmental, geophysical, and geotechnical firms within the greater Philadelphia region. Additionally, there are opportunities with federal, state, and municipal agencies, jobs in central Pennsylvania related to the Marcellus Shale, and research opportunities between Drexel and the Academy of Natural Sciences.

All geoscience majors follow the five-year, three co-op plan of study program. Transfer students may be granted an exception for a two co-op plan of study so that they may remain on schedule. The summer geological field camp will occur during the third co-op cycle. In this third co-op, geoscience students attend field camp and also partake in an abbreviated co-op work experience.

Career Opportunities

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for geoscientists through 2020 is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations. In addition, the geosciences are expected to outpace life, physical, and social sciences in job creation. The employment outlook for geoscientists in Drexel's surrounding area is particularly bright, with a robust environmental consulting industry and exploding demand related to Marcellus Shale drilling.

The geoscience major, with its three concentrations, prepares students who are interested in entering the workforce immediately as well as those who are interested in pursuing related research in graduate schools.

Facilities and Field Sites

Facilities

The Geoscience major leverages resources at Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences such as a mineral collection with 9,000 specimens, over a million fossil specimens, Dinosaur Hall, The Patrick Center for Environmental Research, a state-of-the-art fossil preparation lab, notable research programs, and faculty with expertise in geology, paleontology, and related disciplines.

Summer Geological Field Camp

Summer geological field camp is the quintessential undergraduate experience for geosciences students. It is a long-held tradition in geology departments that students head out West, during the summer before graduation, to apply their knowledge to real-world situations and to acquire field skills that will serve them throughout their careers. This is particularly important for students in eastern schools where the mountains are small and outcrops are scarce. Field camp also provides networking and bonding opportunities for students. Friends made at field camp often become colleagues for life. At the Geological Society of America meeting, reunions are organized by the university and by field camp.

The summer geological field camp for Geoscience students will occur during the third co-op cycle.

Barnegat Bay Coastal Field Station

The BEES field station on Barnegat Bay in Waretown, NJ provides Geoscience students with opportunities to engage in hands-on research in coastal geology, barrier island morphology, oceanography, and sedimentology. The facility includes a lodge, two classrooms/meeting rooms, dining hall, dormitories, and rustic cabins. The field station is located on 194 acres of diverse coastal habitat, including a maritime forest, tidal creek, salt marsh, fresh water pond, brackish impoundment, and bayshore environments. The department’s research vessel gives students access to back-bay and near-shore marine environments. 

The department holds its introductory field session for incoming freshmen and other events at the field station. The facility may also serve as a base for excursions into the Pine Barrens, a heavily forested area containing a number of interesting deposits related to the last glacial period.

Red Hill Fossil Site

The Red Hill fossil site in Tioga County, PA, exposes Devonian coastal sedimentary rocks that preserve a rich fossil fauna. Of particular importance is a fossil fish species, studied by Dr. Ted Daeschler, representing a critical transition between fish and tetrapods (land animals.) This site offers opportunities for studying vertebrate paleontology, stratigraphy, and sedimentology and provides students with a window into an important moment in the history of life on Earth.

 Inversand Fossil Site: Local Training Ground for Geoscience Majors

The Inversand fossil site is a unique resource for geological education, research, and STEM outreach. The quarry is located in Gloucester Country, NJ, only 20 minutes from Drexel’s campus, making it possible to conduct field exercises there within a three-hour class period. The geological formations that outcrop in the Inversand Quarry have yielded many new fossil species. The site has significance beyond vertebrate paleontology however, and will provide a local laboratory for classes in geochemistry, geophysics, stratigraphy, sedimentology, hydrogeology, and environmental geology. As such, it will provide a valuable training ground only a short distance from campus for all Drexel Geoscience majors.

Geoscience Faculty

Walter F. Bien, PhD (Drexel University) Director, Laboratory of Pinelands Research. Research Professor. Natural resource management, restoration ecology, conservation biology, and New Jersey Pinelands community dynamics.
Elizabeth Burke Watson, PhD (University of California, Berkeley). Assistant Professor. The implications of global and regional environmental change, and unraveling the interacting effects of multiple anthropogenic stressors on coastal ecosystems to promote more informed management, conservation, and restoration.
Donald F. Charles, PhD (Indiana University) Senior Scientist and Section Leader, Phycology Section, Academy of Natural Sciences. Professor. Diatoms as water quality indicators; paleolimnological approaches for inferring change in biology and chemistry of lakes; lake management; assessment of perturbations in aquatic ecosystems due to municipal and industrial effluents, land-use change, acid deposition, eutrophication and climate change.
Carol Collier, FAICP, MRP (University of Pennsylvania) Sr. Advisor, Watershed Management and Policy at the Academy of Natural Sciences; Director, Environmental Studies and Sustainability Program.. Water resources management, environmental planning, climate change policy, the intersection of science, policy and decision making.
Ted Daeschler, PhD (University of Pennsylvania) Associate Curator of Vertebrate Zoology; Vice President for Systematic Biology and the Library: Academy of Natural Sciences. Associate Professor. Vertebrate fauna of the Late Devonian Period in eastern North America; fossil collecting; systematic work focusing on freshwater vertebrates; nature of early non-marine ecosystems.
Daniel P. Duran, PhD (Vanderbilt University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Phylogeography, systematics and taxonomy, population and conservation genetics, ecological niche modeling, focusing on insect systems to better understand fundamental evolutionary processes and maintain biodiversity.
Jon Gelhaus, PhD (University of Kansas) Curator, Department of Entomology: Academy of Natural Sciences. Professor. Systematic expertise in crane flies (Tipuloidea); phylogenetic reconstruction; historical and ecological biogeography; biodiversity measures and evolution of morphological character systems.
Richard J. Horwitz, PhD (University of Chicago) Senior Scientist; Fisheries Section Leader; Ruth Patrick Chair of Environmental Sciences. Associate Professor. Reproductive ecology, life history and distribution of freshwater fishes; effects of land use, habitat structure and hydrology on population dynamics and species composition in aquatic systems; ecological modeling and biometry; anthropogenic contaminants in fishes.
Susan S. Kilham, PhD (Duke University). Professor. Aquatic ecology: phytoplankton; physiological ecology, especially of diatoms in freshwater and marine systems; large lakes; food webs; biogeochemistry.
Danielle Kreeger, PhD (Oregon State University). Research Associate Professor. Trophic interactions in aquatic ecosystems.
Tatyana Livshultz, PhD (Cornell University) Assistant Curator of Botany. Assistant Professor. Expertise of the milkweed and dogbane family (Apocynaceae); evolution and species diversity of the genus Dischidia; differences in floral form and function.
Richard McCourt, PhD (University of Arizona) Associate Curator of Botany, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University; 2010-2012: Program Director, Division of Graduate Education, National Science Foundation. Professor. Biodiversity, evolution, ecology, and systematic of green algae, specifically charophyte algae.
Michael O'Connor, MD, PhD (MD, Johns Hopkins University; PhD, Colorado State). Associate Professor. Biophysical and physiological ecology, thermoregulation of vertebrates, ecological modeling.
Sean O'Donnell, PhD (University of Wisconsin-Madison). Professor. Tropical ecology, focusing on geographic variation and elevation effects on ecology and behavior of army ants and ant-bird interactions; neurobiology, focusing on brain plasticity and brain evolution in social insects.
Marina Potapova, PhD (Russian Academy of Sciences) Assistant Curator. Assistant Professor. Taxonomy, ecology, and biogeography of freshwater diatoms; methods of quantifying morphological characters of diatom frustules based on geometric morphometrics; systematic of monoraphid freshwater diatoms.
Gary Rosenberg, PhD (Harvard University) Pilsbry Chair of Malacology. Professor. Magnitude and origin of species-level diversity in the Mollusca.
Jacob Russell, PhD (University of Arizona). Associate Professor. Microbiomes and metagenomics; ecology and evolution of symbiosis.
Ron Smith, MS (Rutgers University). Instructor. Shorebird Ecology and Conservation; Amphibians of the NJ Pine Barrens; Restoration Ecology; Climate Change – Regional Effects and Education
James R. Spotila, PhD (University of Arkansas) L. D. Betz Chair Professor. Professor. Physiological and biophysical ecology, thermoregulation of aquatic vertebrates, biology of sea turtles.
Loyc Vanderkluysen, PhD (University of Hawaii). Assistant Professor. The cyclicity of volcanic eruptions, volcanic degassing processes, and large igneous provinces.
David J. Velinsky, PhD (Old Dominion University) Department Head, Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science. Professor. Geochemical cycling of organic and inorganic constituents of sediments and waters; Sedimentary diagenesis of major and minor elements; Isotope biogeochemistry of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur in marine and freshwater systems.
Jason Weckstein, PhD (Louisiana State University) Associate Curator of Ornithology. Associate Professor. Avian phylogenetics, comparative biology and evolutionary history; biodiversity surveys of birds and their parasites and pathogens; coevolutionary history of birds and their parasites.

Emeritus Faculty

John G. Lundberg, PhD (University of Michigan). Professor Emeritus. Diversity and diversification of fishes; documenting and interpreting the morphological, molecular, and taxonomic diversity of living and fossil fishes in the interrelated fields of systematic, faunistics and biogeography and paleobiology; exploration and collecting in poorly-known tropical freshwater habitats and regions.
Daniel Otte, PhD (University of Michigan) Senior Curator, Systematics and Evolutionary Biology. Professor Emeritus. Taxonomy and biogeography of Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, katydids and their relatives).
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