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Bachelor of Science in Geoscience

Over the past few decades, climate change and other pressing environmental issues have brought to light the necessity for understanding Earth system processes. 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.

Predicting sea level change; discovering new geothermal, hydrocarbon, and mineralic stores of energy; removing buried toxins from the environment—these and other imperatives are the work of geoscientists. Understanding the 99.99% of our history that precedes the archaeological record, the humbling contingencies of natural history, and the vast swaths and depths of biodiversity over time—that is the work of geoscientists.

Graduates of Drexel’s BS in Geoscience will be among the next generation of leading scientists tackling these critical issues.

The Curriculum

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, and practical field experiences. In addition to nourishing and honing the passions of our students for 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.

The BS in Geoscience offers 3 concentrations:

Applied Geology Concentration

The Applied Geology concentration was designed in consultation with industry leaders and is for students wishing to enter the geoscience workforce immediately upon graduation. Students in this concentration will develop a package of skills that will lead to outstanding Co-op opportunities and bright employment prospects.

Careers

Possible employment opportunities include jobs in: environmental consulting, geotechnical consulting, geophysical consulting, the petroleum and natural gas industry, the mining industry, federal agencies, and state and local agencies. The job market in environmental consulting is quite robust, despite the economic downturn. In the United States, the mid-Atlantic is the epicenter of the environmental industry, with over one hundred firms within the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Additionally, entry-level geological jobs pertaining to both the environmental impact of Marcellus Shale drilling and to the exploitation of gas-shale resources are relatively abundant in Pennsylvania.

Paleontology Concentration

The Paleontology concentration builds on existing strengths at Drexel University and at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Paleontology students will benefit from world-class resources, including the invertebrate paleontology collection (over 1 million specimens); the vertebrate fossil collection (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 (over 5,000 specimens).

Many other Academy collections, such as mollusks, rotifers, and diatoms, will provide relevant resources for students of paleontology. In addition, the Lacovara lab on Drexel’s campus houses several thousand specimens and contains a relatively complete collection of known taxa from the Cretaceous of New Jersey.

Fossil Dig Sites

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 the well-established sites of two prominent Drexel paleontologists: Ted Daeschler’s Red Hill site, which produces evolutionarily important forms representing the fish to tetrapod transition; and Ken Lacovara’s the Inversand site, which records a mass-death assemblage at the end of the Cretaceous Period.

Careers

The Paleontology concentration will prepare 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. However, the strength of the Geosciences core will allow students wishing to tack in a different direction to seek employment in the environmental consulting field or to pursue other areas of advanced study in the geosciences.

General Geoscience Concentration

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

Careers

Students graduating from the General Geoscience 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.


Program Highlights

The motto of the department is “Field Experience, Early and Often” and we mean it: geoscience majors will begin their field experiences prior to the start of their freshmen courses. Nearly every required course in the major will 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 a mandatory summer geological field camp, will provide students with unparalleled hands-on experience and professional training.

The Drexel Co-op Experience

Geoscience students will possess the technical and professional skills sought after by employers. The greater Philadelphia region is home to over one hundred environmental, geophysical and geotechnical firms. Plus, numerous opportunities exist 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.

Summer Geological Field Camp

Summer geological field camp is the quintessential undergraduate experience for geoscience majors. 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. Friends made at field camp often become colleagues for life.

Exceptional Collections and Facilities

Geoscience majors will take advantage of the amazing resources of Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences, including over 18-million fossil and mineral specimens, the Academy’s Dinosaur Hall, the Patrick Center for Environmental Research, a state-of-the-art fossil preparation lab, international field sites, notable research programs, and faculty with expertise in geology, paleontology, and related disciplines. Learn more about the department’s facilities »

Professional Geologist Exam

An important consideration for students seeking employment in industry is their ability to pass the Professional Geologist (PG) exam, after four to six years of work experience. Twenty-eight states, including Pennsylvania now require a Professional Geologist license to submit certain proposals and sign-off on reports and certifications submitted to environmental agencies. An important factor in obtaining employment in industry is the candidate’s perceived potential, based on their transcript, to pass the PG exam. Drexel’s BS in Geoscience curriculum provides students with the background necessary to succeed on this exam.

Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Science Degree: 185.0 – 189.0 quarter credits

Sample Plan of Study

Five Year, Three Co-op