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

NOTE: The GEO concentrations will be discontinued effective Fall 2020 and will be replaced by broader elective options in the curriculum.

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, with three concentration options designed to meet the needs of students wishing to pursue graduate school or immediate employment in the geosciences:

  • Applied Geology
  • General Geoscience
  • Paleontology

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:

  1. Instill key technical skills early-on, as a pathway to high-quality co-op opportunities;
  2. Lay the groundwork for our students to pursue advanced graduate study in the geosciences and other disciplines, and;
  3. 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.

About the Concentrations

Applied Geology

The applied geology concentration is designed for students wishing to enter the geoscience workforce upon graduation. Possible employment opportunities include jobs in: environmental consulting, geotechnical consulting, geophysical consulting, the petroleum and natural gas industry, the mining industry, federal agencies (e.g., USGS, USDA, NOAA, FEMA, EPA, DOI, and Army Corps of Engineers), and state and local agencies (e.g., state environmental agencies, state geological surveys, and municipal water departments).

General Geoscience

The general geoscience concentration allows maximum flexibility and is designed for students wishing to pursue other areas of study within the geosciences, students wishing to pursue policy-related careers, and students planning to apply to professional graduate programs, such as those in law or business schools. The policy component of this concentration allows students to explore related societal issues, which may help guide their career aspirations. This concentration also provides transfer students with a pathway to graduate on time.

Students graduating from this concentration will be well prepared to enter graduate school in science or policy, as well as to pursue professional studies. Students seeking immediate employment will be competitive for jobs with, for example, certain NGOs, environmental foundations, consulting companies, and government policy positions related to natural resources and the environment.


The concentration in paleontology prepares students who are interested in pursuing related research in graduate school and students seeking entry-level positions in paleontology. Examples of these jobs include biostratigrapher for petroleum companies, fossil resource manager for the Bureau of Land Management, and related positions with the National Parks Service, USGS, and state geological surveys.

Undergraduates in this concentration benefit from world-class resources already established at the Academy of Natural Sciences. These include the Invertebrate paleontology collection, with over 1 million specimens; the vertebrate fossil collection, with over 22,000 specimens; historically important specimens, such as the Thomas Jefferson fossil collection, the first discovered dinosaur skeleton, and the first discovered tyrannosaur; and the paleobotany collection, with over 5,000 specimens, including a large proportion of type specimens.

Students in the paleontology concentration will have access to numerous fossil sites along the Atlantic Coastal Plain and in the Appalachian Province. Opportunities exist for student research at two well-established sites: Dr. Daeschler’s Red Hill site, which produces evolutionarily important forms representing the fish to tetrapod transition; and Dr. Lacovara’s Inversand site, which records a mass-death assemblage at the end of the Cretaceous Period.

Additional Information

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

 Degree Requirements

Students participating in the cooperative education program will be enrolled in the required prep course, COOP 101, generally three terms before their co-op begins. As of September 2020, COOP 101 will be one credit.

General Education Requirements
CIVC 101Introduction to Civic Engagement1.0
COM 230Techniques of Speaking3.0
COM 310 [WI] Technical Communication3.0
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
General Geology conc may take:
Introduction to Analysis I
Calculus I
Introduction to Analysis II
Calculus II
Mathematics for the Life Sciences
Calculus III
MATH 410Scientific Data Analysis I3.0
MATH 411Scientific Data Analysis II3.0
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
Complete one of the following Biological Sciences sequences:8.0-9.0
Cells, Genetics & Physiology
and Cells, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory
and Biological Diversity, Ecology & Evolution
and Biological Diversity, Ecology and Evolution Laboratory
Evolution & Organismal Diversity
and Physiology and Ecology
Environmental Science
ENVS 101Introduction to Environmental Science5.0
ENVS 102Natural History, Research and Collections2.0
ENVS 441 [WI] Issues in Global Change I: Seminar2.0
ENVS 442Issues in Global Change II: Research2.0
ENVS 443Issues in Global Change III: Synthesis2.0
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 312Sedimentology and Stratigraphy3.5
GEO 320Invertebrate Paleontology3.5
GEO 325Structural Geology5.0
GEO 401Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology5.0
Geology Field Camp6.0
GEO Electives *6.0-8.0
Geoscience Concentration Courses19.0-20.0
Applied Geology Concentration
GIS and Environmental Modeling
Environmental Geology
Geology of Groundwater
General Geoscience Concentration **
Paleontology Concentration
Tree of Life
Vertebrate Paleontology
Paleontology elective (Choose 2 from following):
Systematic Biology
Freshwater and Marine Algae
Advanced Topics in Evolution
Choose one of the following:
Form, Function & Evolution of Vertebrates
and Vertebrate Biology and Evolution Laboratory
Invertebrate Morphology and Physiology
and Invertebrate Morphology and Physiology Lab
Total Credits183.0-187.0

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.

Students participating in the cooperative education program will be enrolled in the required prep course, COOP 101, generally three terms before their co-op begins. As of September 2020, COOP 101 will be one credit.

Term 1Credits
ENGL 101
or 111
Composition and Rhetoric I: Inquiry and Exploratory Research
English Composition I
ENVS 101Introduction to Environmental Science5.0
GEO 101Physical Geology4.0
MATH 121Calculus I4.0
UNIV S101The Drexel Experience1.0
 Term Credits17.0
Term 2
CHEM 101
or BIO 124*
General Chemistry I
Evolution & Organismal Diversity
CIVC 101Introduction to Civic Engagement1.0
ENGL 102
or 112
Composition and Rhetoric II: Advanced Research and Evidence-Based Writing
English Composition II
GEO 102History of the Earth4.0
MATH 122Calculus II4.0
 Term Credits15.5
Term 3
CHEM 102
or BIO 126
General Chemistry II
Physiology and Ecology
ENGL 103
or 113
Composition and Rhetoric III: Themes and Genres
English Composition III
ENVS 102Natural History, Research and Collections2.0
GEO 103Introduction to Field Methods in Earth Science2.0
MATH 123Calculus III4.0
 Term Credits15.5
Term 4
BIO 107Cells, Genetics & Physiology3.0
BIO 108Cells, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory1.0
CHEM 103
or 101
General Chemistry III
General Chemistry I
GEO 301Advanced Field Methods in Earth Science3.0
GEO 312Sedimentology and Stratigraphy3.5
 Term Credits15.5
Term 5
GEO 201 [WI] Earth Systems Processes3.0
GEO 215Mineralogy4.0
Choose one of the following two options, based on chosen concentration:4.0
4-credit GEO concentration course
2-credit GEO concentration (Paleo) course and a 3-credit free elective
BIO 109
or CHEM 102
Biological Diversity, Ecology & Evolution
General Chemistry II
BIO 110
or CHEM 102
Biological Diversity, Ecology and Evolution Laboratory
General Chemistry II
 Term Credits15.0
Term 6
COM 230Techniques of Speaking3.0
GEO 401Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology5.0
PHYS 101
or 152
Fundamentals of Physics I
Introductory Physics I
Free elective3.0
 Term Credits15.0
Term 7
COM 310 [WI] Technical Communication3.0
GEO 325Structural Geology5.0
UNIV S201Looking Forward: Academics and Careers1.0
PHYS 102
or 153
Fundamentals of Physics II
Introductory Physics II
Free elective3.0
 Term Credits16.0
Term 8
MATH 410Scientific Data Analysis I3.0
PHYS 201
or 154
Fundamentals of Physics III
Introductory Physics III
PHIL 340
or 341
Environmental Ethics
Environmental Philosophy
GEO Concentration elective3.0-4.0
 Term Credits13.0-14.0
Term 9
MATH 411Scientific Data Analysis II3.0
GEO Concentration courses8.0
Free elective3.0
Field Camp**6.0
 Term Credits20.0
Term 10
ENVS 441 [WI] Issues in Global Change I: Seminar2.0
GEO 320Invertebrate Paleontology3.5
GEO elective3.0-4.0
Humanities or Social Science elective3.0
Free Elective3.0
 Term Credits14.5-15.5
Term 11
ENVS 442Issues in Global Change II: Research2.0
GEO concentration elective3.0-4.0
Humanities or Social Science elective3.0
Free elective6.0
 Term Credits14.0-15.0
Term 12
ENVS 443Issues in Global Change III: Synthesis2.0
GEO elective3.0-4.0
Free electives7.0
 Term Credits12.0-13.0
Total Credit: 183.0-187.0

Co-Op/Career Opportunities

Co-Op Opportunities

There are over one hundred environmental, geophysical, and geotechnical firms within the greater Philadelphia region. Plus, 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


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 opportunity for students. Friends made at field camp often become colleagues for life. At the Geological Society of America meeting, reunions are organized by 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, Pennsylvania, 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, a short distance from campus, for all Drexel geoscience majors.

Geoscience Faculty

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.
Marie J. Kurz, PhD (University of Florida) Biogeochemistry Section Leader, Academy of Natrual Sciences. Assistant Research Professor. Interactions between geochemical, ecological & hydrologic processes in freshwater systems. Availability, transport and cycling of stream solutes; Stream ecosystem structure & function; Groundwater-surface water interactions; Adaptive management & restoration of water resources & aquatic ecosystems.
Amanda Lough, PhD (Washington University in St. Louis). Assistant Professor. Volcanic seismicity and the relation to magma plumbing systems; glacial seismicity and the seismicity of Antarctica; intraplate seismicity.
Gary Rosenberg, PhD (Harvard University) Pilsbry Chair of Malacology. Professor. Magnitude and origin of species-level diversity in the Mollusca.
Jocelyn A. Sessa, PhD (Penn State University) Assistant Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology: Academy of Natural Sciences. Assistant Professor. Paleoecology; paleobiology; extinction recovery dynamics; climate change; isotope geochemistry; fossil and modern mollusks
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.
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