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Earth Science, Vassar College

Information for this profile was provided by Jeff Walker in 2009. Information is also available on the program website.

Vassar College is a private four-year institution, primarily undergraduate .

Overview and Context

Illustration of the Vassar earth science curriculum, constructed by Monica Bruckner, based on information provided by Jeff Walker. Click on the image to see a larger version.
This is our only purely geoscience curriculum.
With our colleagues in geography, we also offer the interdisciplinary major "Earth Science and Society." Students in Environmental Studies will sometimes complete a 5-course sequence in Earth Science as part of their multidisciplinary major.

Program Design

The curriculum was designed to allow earth science students a maximum amount of choice in designing their major. It also allows the faculty to offer a wider variety of courses because we only need to offer the required courses, of which there are three, annually. All other courses are offered on an every-other-year, or every-three-years, basis.

Goals and Assessment

The goal of this curriculum is to prepare students for a wide range of post-graduate possibilities including graduate school, teaching, consulting, etc.

We assess our program through exit interviews with seniors and keeping track of the careers of our graduates.

Courses and Sequencing

Entry into the program

  • Earth, Environment and Humanity (required)
  • The History of Earth and its Life (required)
  • Oceanography

Core courses

  • Earth Materials (Prerequisite: Earth, Environment and Humanity)


Students are required to take 8 units (usually 8 courses) of electives, selected from the list below:
  • Sediment, Strata, and Environment
  • Soils and Sustainable Agriculture
  • Geomorphology: Surface Processes and Evolution of Landforms
  • Global Geophysics and Tectonics
  • Geophysical Investigations
  • Structural Geology
  • Paleontology
  • Stable Isotopes in Environmental Science
  • Continental Margins
  • Environmental Geology
  • Paleoclimatology
  • Oil
  • Modeling the Earth
We allow 1 unit of intermediate or advanced level work in biology, chemistry, physics or math, and up to 2 intermediate level courses in geography to substitute for intermediate level courses in earth science.


  • Optional senior thesis

Additional Materials

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