Major/Minor Requirements

Geoscience goals for the major and major/minor requirements

Narragansett Pier granite, Rhode Island

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Goals for the Major

Goals for our 100 level curriculum

  • Develop scientific literacy
  • Explore earth systems in the classroom, the lab, and in the field
  • Understand our local landscape, sustainability, and planetary limits
  • Collect, curate, and model data to create geological narratives

Goals for our 200-300 level curriculum

  • Understand the drivers of Earth processes from first principles
  • Experience content through inquiry based research projects, field work, analogue modeling and engagement with Earth materials and scientific data
  • Apply the scientific method and use data to make interpretations about geologic processes
  • Collaborate with peers in a project based setting
  • Demonstrate written, oral, and visual communications skills to convey complex information to a range of audiences.

New requirements for the Major, classes 2022-

The geosciences major includes three components: a set of three core requirements (100-200 level), a set of five electives, and a set of four cognate STEM courses. The core requirements provide students with an introduction to the key elements of geosciences: earth materials and processes, scale, and deep time, as well as the development of system thinking skills. The electives (200-300 level) allow students to develop an area of focus that reflects their particular interests and future goals.The cognate STEM courses provide context, depth, and additional quantitative skills.

The core includes one 100 level course from (GEOS 101GEOS 102, and two 200 level courses GEOS 200 and GEOS 203.  In addition, students and encouraged, in consultation with their advisors, to choose a "focus" that lends depth and coherence to the major and can guide elective choices. Potential foci include 1) Earth Material and Tectonics, 2) Surface Processes, 3) Environmental Science, 4) Planetary Geology, 5) Earth and Space Education.  Four complementary (cognate) courses from mathematics, biological sciences, chemistry, physics, and astronomy, or computer science are also required, and two must come from the same discipline. Most majors pursue research experiences as part of their curriculum. 

Requirements for the Major for classes of 2019-2021

A major in geosciences includes eight geosciences courses (a minimum of eight units of course work), at least six of which must be taken at Wellesley. Entry into the major may be through any 100-level GEOS course. Four 200-level courses are required, normally chosen from GEOS 200, GEOS 201, GEOS 203, GEOS 210, GEOS 218 and GEOS 220. Three 300-level courses are required one of which may be GEOS 350, GEOS 360 or GEOS 370. Four complementary courses from mathematics, biological sciences, chemistry, physics, astronomy, or computer science are also required, and two of these must come from the same discipline. Most majors pursue research experiences as part of their curriculum. Students will choose an appropriate set of courses with the guidance of a departmental advisor.

Requirements for the Minor

A minor in geosciences consists of five courses, including GEOS 101 or GEOS 102 and at least one course at the 300 level.

Honors

The only route to honors in the major is writing a thesis and passing an oral examination. To be admitted to the thesis program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work in the major field above the 100 level; the department may petition on her behalf if her GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. See Academic Distinctions.

Graduate Study

Students considering graduate school are urged to take two semesters of mathematics, two of chemistry, two of physics, and a geoscience field course (e.g., GEOS 238W) and/or a summer geoscience field course offered by another institution. Students will choose an appropriate set of complementary courses with the guidance of a departmental advisor.