panoramic of btv and lake champlain

Geoscientists study Earth, the Environment and outer Space

Yes, we turn rocks into revelations, but we do so much more! Geoscientists study the complexity and interconnectedness of Earth layers including atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and geosphere. This encompasses how living things, including humans, interact with the Earth and extends to other planetary systems as well. Combining knowledge from various disciplines, geoscientists address pressing environmental challenges and contribute to the sustainable management of our planet.


  •  Earth as a complex system and the interconnectedness of atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and geosphere.
  • Atmospheric processes, systems interactions and climate and the various time scales of interconnected systems processes and impacts.
  •  Surface processes and their connection to sustaining life, environmental impacts and natural and human-induced hazards.
  •  Hydrogeology and water science and the chemical and mechanical processes involved in the Water Cycle and water as a critical resource.
  • Earth materials and the processes of the Rock Cycle, origin and distribution, critical resources extraction and use, context of a sustainable society.
  •  Earth structure and the plate tectonic and deformation processes, formation, and the resultant geological structures and natural hazards.
  • Deep time and the scale and magnitude, the impact on geologic processes, geological and biological events in the geologic record.
  •  Geo-health and geo-hazards and the relationships between human health and geologic processes and materials, and potential health hazards through air, food, water, or soil.
  • Geo-context and the context of the colonial history of geosciences, systemic racism, and reliance on hegemonic ways of knowing.


  • Come Visit Us!

    Need a quiet space to delve into your studies? Come visit and explore our space in Delehanty Hall! We welcome students to use our student lounge (room 315), where you can connect with like-minded individuals, share ideas, and foster a sense of community. Our dedicated work area provides the perfect atmosphere for connecting and focused learning.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the Geosciences Program and Geography?

Geography shares a common root word, geo, and also highlights the application of spatialized thinking in social and natural environments, from local to global scales of analysis. Geography is composed of both physical and human geography. Especially physical geography shares some aspects with the geosciences, however, the geosciences program includes deep time (i.e., the longer timescales that impact deeper Earth layers) and a connection to the core concepts underlying the investigations of all Earth layers and other planetary bodies.

Geosciences course offerings are complementary to Geography and Geography majors, especially when focusing on physical Geography, can apply Geoscience courses and vice versa. 

Geography and Geosciences are available as a B.A., which puts more focus on broader interests as you will explore a minor as well. Geosciences also is available as a B.S. degree, which emphasizes the context of STEM disciplines.

What is the difference between the Geosciences Program and Environmental Studies and Environmental Sciences?

The programs have synergies and similarities, but differ in focus, school/college and offered degrees:


Geosciences is interdisciplinary and offers instruction on the interconnectedness of the Earth layers, providing an Earth systems lens to your STEM education at UVM. Fields of study include i) solid Earth processes and materials, ii) land-surface processes and interactions, and iii) atmospheric and climatological processes – all of which include how living things, including humans, interact with the Earth and other planetary systems.

Environmental Studies and Sciences are also interdisciplinary programs with a systems lens, but at timescales that are adapted to the living world (typically decades).

For environmental studies, the explicit focus is on environmental sustainability and justice. Environmental sciences typically exclude the explicit study of rocks or the Earth and other planetary bodies, but instead focusses on the ecosystem context in shallow Earth layers including vegetation and soil.


Additionally, Geosciences and Environmental Studies are offered through the college of Arts and Sciences, while Environmental Science is offered through the Rubenstein school. This means that school/college specific course requirements vary greatly.


Geosciences is available as Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Sciences degree and we also offer a minor.

Environmental Studies is available as Bachelor of Arts degree and also offers a minor.

Environmental Science is available as Bachelor of Sciences degree, there is no minor.

Additionally, Geosciences is a comparatively small program. If you are interested in studying the Earth or environment with the geosciences focus, the smaller cohort of students and close relationships with faculty are an added bonus!


As Geoscience major, do you study mostly rocks?

You can indeed study rocks, but also air, water, plants, soil and more. Geosciences is interdisciplinary and emphasizes the interconnectedness of the Earth layers. Our program fields of study include i) solid Earth processes and materials, ii) land-surface processes and interactions, and iii) atmospheric and climatological processes. All of this includes how living things, including humans, interact with the Earth and other planetary systems.

What are the nuts and bolts of the Geosciences program?

Our program emphasizes flexibility and interdisciplinarity with offerings within our department and across campus.

Major and minors will take foundational and core courses (see details here [add the webpage]), and majors will further take electives and ancillary courses.

  1. Foundational courses: several courses that introduce the breadth of the discipline and provide important context for midlevel courses.
  2. Core courses: at the intermediate and advanced level in several categories (also called subfield requirements) that emphasize the interconnectedness of Earth layers and processes.
  • Earth and Planetary Materials
  • Land-Surface Processes & Interactions
  • Atmospheric and climatological processes
  • Practice Requirement

Note that our courses are often interdisciplinary and many contain practice elements, thus it is not difficult to satisfy these categories. After that, you can either continue exploring the breadth of the discipline with courses from multiple categories, or specialize in one or two categories.

  1. Electives: can be additional Geosciences courses and/or courses with the prefixes ASTR, BIOL, CEE, CHEM, CS, ENSC, ENVS, GEOG, NR, STAT, PHYS, or PSS.
  2. Ancillary courses: We have flexibility there as well. Depending on your degree (B.A., or B.S.) you will take calculus and/or statistics, chemistry and have the option to apply biology, additional chemistry, computer science, or physics courses. We offer guidance on decisions on ancillary courses, but intentionally refrain from requesting the same prerequisites for all students, because trajectories, interests and career choices are highly variable. 

What skills will Geosciences teach me that an employer will want?

  • make inferences about complex systems from observations of the natural world combined with experimentation and modeling.
  • solve problems requiring spatial and temporal (i.e., 3D and 4D) interpretations.
  • work with uncertainty, non-uniqueness, incompleteness, ambiguity, and indirect observations.
  • integrate data from different disciplines and apply systems thinking and are technologically versatile.
  • apply a field- and data-based, hypothesis-driven approach to environmental challenges.
  • communicate evaluation of scientific information orally and in writing to various audiences.

What kind of courses will I take?

  • Interdepartmental ties: The commitment to an Area Studies focus in our department is strengthened by close ties to the International Studies and Canadian Studies Programs at UVM.
  • Similarly, we regularly cross-list courses and work in concert with a number of other departments at UVM, including the environmental program, women's studies, political science, geology, anthropology, and natural resources. Check out courses offered in Fall 2024.

Do geosciences courses satisfy catamount core (general education) requirements?

We have many courses that satisfy catamount core requirements. Here are some examples:

  • GEOL 1010. Topics In: First-Year Seminar. WIL1. 
  • GEOL 1025. Topics In: LASP Seminar. Mountains to Lake 0 or 4 Credits. N2. 
  • GEOL 1040. Interdisciplinary Earth. N1, QD, SU. 
  • GEOL 1100. Earth Through Time. N1. 
  • GEOL 1400. Environmental Geology. N2. 
  • GEOL 2105. Earth Materials. N2, SU.  
  • GEOL 2405. Environmental Geochemistry. N1, OC. 
  • GEOL 2410. Geohealth. N1. 
  • GEOL 2525. Geocomputing. QD. 
  • GEOL 2605. Mars, Moons & Asteroids. 3 Credits. N1. 
  • GEOL 3105. Earth Materials w/lab. N2, SU. 
  • GEOL 3405. Environmental Geochem w/lab. N2, OC. 

Please see here for a complete list:

UVM Geosciences Mission Statement

To cultivate and inform an enthusiastic and critical engagement with the community and the world through the study of physical geography, human geography, human/environment relationships, and geographical techniques.