University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Geology

Is Geology For Me?

"Geology has taken me to some of the most interesting and beautiful places, and its hard to beat the outdoor classroom. If you enjoy the outdoors and working closely with you’re professors geology could befor you."
Patrick Tobin

yellowstone national park

The hot springs of Yellowstone National Park are a field area for geochemistry professor Greg Druschel and his students' research.

This can only be answered by you after becoming exposed to the subject. Many professional geologists today did not have access to geology at the high school level (aside from an exposure to Earth Science). Because of this, geology is taught at most universities, UVM included, assuming no formal prior exposure to the subject whatsoever.

Intro courses offer broad-based appeal

Geology, on the strictly introductory level, has an appeal that is broad. Many students who had no previous interest in science or mathematics are surprised to find that they have an aptitude for these subjects when they are introduced through geological phenomena. Other students who never thought much about making a career in a field-based discipline, become excited by the wide-range of geological fields.

Like other introductory courses, geology will expose you to a host of new insights of day-to-day phenomena and introduces totally new concepts for the very first time.

The geology student at UVM

Perhaps a better way to evaluate your interest in geology is to look briefly at what geology students do at the University of Vermont and what they do when they graduate. The proportion of in-state/out-of-state; female/male; public/private school student backgrounds are representative of the wide spectrum of diversity of the College of Arts and Sciences as a whole. Some students have superlative chemistry, physics and mathematics backgrounds; others have had very little math and science exposure prior to enrolling in geology courses.

Geology students have in common a love of outdoors, an interest in the environment, an ability to visualize in three dimensions, and the ability to do good science. Geology students at UVM are a close-knit group; they enjoy small classes, a close contact with the professors, and the opportunity to learn from each other.

A glimpse of a geology student's education

You will be introduced early to the methods of mapping and field studies. You will take trips throughout the fall semester and summer to expose yourself to the rich geological environment of Vermont and surrounding areas. The emphasis of field studies in both the undergraduate and graduate programs at UVM is well known and respected by other colleges and universities. Several courses that have proved to be extremely popular and important to our students illustrate the unique geology curriculum at UVM.

Course: Introduction to Field Geology

The course is a real confidence booster . . . if you had doubts about geology before, none will remain after this experience! Usually taken in the sophomore year, it exposes you to geological research after only one introductory course. From the first class in September, until the snow flies (usually November), you will find yourself confronted face to face with an array of geological problems. You and your field partners will devote 12 hours a week in the field learning techniques, speculating about rocks and pondering how to solve stimulating problems. You will learn how to prepare geological maps and reports and will be given free rein on drawing conclusions based on your observations.

Course: Regional Geology

Usually taken by juniors or seniors during one month in the summer, this course is essentially a one month field trip to learn first-hand about geological environments not available in the Vermont area. In the past, the trips have taken UVM faculty and students to the southwest and northwest areas of the U.S.; along the Atlantic coastal plain southward to Florida, and through the Appalachians northward to Newfoundland. This optional course provides experiences to new geological challenges. Studying geology in exotic settings while camping, cooking, traveling, and living with your faculty and peers makes this course as memorable as any you will take while at UVM.

Independent research

You, as a geology student, may originate your own research or you may be invited to join a research project with faculty and graduate students. Geology students have enjoyed a long history of successful undergraduate research projects as evidenced by the number of completed senior theses projects, honors theses, and presentations at the Vermont Geological Society annual meetings. UVM undergraduates have also been successful in publishing their work in the geological literature and in giving presentations at professional meetings.

All geology students do not take advantage of the special courses or conduct independent research. The department provides a base for those who wish to select particular geology courses that complement other majors. Geography, environmental study, engineering, physics, mathematics, and education majors, all have taken geology courses beyond the introductory level to complement their course of study.

Last modified November 06 2012 12:13 PM