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Geology, College of William and Mary

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

College of William and Mary is a public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate .

Overview and Context

Illustration of the College of William and Mary geology curriculum, constructed by Monica Bruckner, based on information provided by Brent Owens. Click on the image to see a larger version.
This curriculum applies to all majors who elect the "geology" option (rather than the "environmental geology" option).
This curriculum is one of two availabe to our undergraduates. The other is Environmental Geology, which has the same core requirements, but differs in some of the elective choices.

Program Design

This curriculum, particularly the set of core courses, was designed to give all geology majors a solid foundation in the earth sciences. The electives then provide students some flexibility in pursuing their own interests. The senior thesis requirement provides all students the opportunity to engage in research, and gain experience in formulating a problem, data collection and evaluation, oral and written expression.

Goals and Assessment

Our program is designed to provide each major with a strong, broad background in geology that is sufficiently flexible to allow students freedom to follow their own interests. The major may choose one of two options, either general geology or environmental geology. Ample opportunity is available for independent student research and such research is an integral part of the curriculum regardless of the option chosen. The senior thesis requirement meets one of the College's goals of incorporating undergraduates in research as much as possible.

1. The quality of senior theses, both oral presentations and final written products (these obviously represent a culmination of student-learning throughout the curriculum)
2. Feedback from alumni, both those in graduate school and those in the workforce

Courses and Sequencing

Entry into the program

  • The Dynamic Earth: Physical Geology
  • Earth's Environmental Systems: Physical Geography
  • Freshman Seminar in Geology


  • Senior Research (every major completes a senior thesis)

Core courses

  • Investigating the Earth: Intro. Geology Laboratory
  • Earth Surface Processes
  • Rock-Forming Minerals
  • The Sedimentary Record
  • Earth Structure & Dynamics
  • Introduction to Geological Research
  • Senior research (or Honors research)


Students are required to take nine elective credits (typically 3 courses) chosen from the following list:
  • Age of Dinosaurs
  • Environmental Geology
  • Marine Geology
  • Planetary Geology
  • Weather, Climate, and Change
  • Watershed Dynamics
  • Hydrology
  • Environmental Geochemistry
  • Igneous & Metamorphic Petrology (Rock-Forming Minerals)
  • Paleontology
  • One advanced seminar (all have prerequisites; various topics; 2 credits)
  • One 2-credit advanced seminar

Other required courses

8 credits (two courses plus labs) from:
  • General Chemistry I
  • General Chemistry II
  • Organic Chemistry I
  • General Physics I
  • General Physics II

Additional Materials

« Geology, Towson University       Geology Major (BA/BS), Dickinson College »