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Geosciences, Skidmore College

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

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

Overview and Context

Illustration of the Skidmore Geosciences curriculum, constructed by Monica Bruckner, based on information provided by Kyle Nichols. Click on the image to see a larger version.
Our curriculum is designed to be flexible enough to allow students at various stages of their undergraduate career complete the major. The structure was designed to allow for a major with a minimal number faculty.
This is our only geoscience curriculum. We recently revised the old major in order to include the geosciences courses outside of traditional geology to count for the major. This major is flexible, allows us to keep current with emerging fields, and allows the student's a degree of freedom upon entry into the major and also during study abroad.

Program Design

The program was initially designed to be flexible in order to maintain a geosciences major at Skidmore College. Students now have flexibility in designing their major (with significant advising), faculty have a degree of freedom in course offerings, and students can complete the major if they decide to declare later rather than sooner.

Goals and Assessment

Since we are about to transition to a more stable faculty and course offerings, we plan to do a thorough review of our curriculum to identify curricular overlap and gaps. Our goal is to have students acquire a sound liberal arts education and to prepare them for post-graduate work or industry. An additional goal is to contribute to the general education requirements of the college.

We are in the process of developing a sustainable assessment program. We plan to use various direct measures (such as the senior capstone course, senior theses, progress in written work) and indirect measures (exit interviews, employer feedback, and graduate school acceptance) to assess the overall program.

Courses and Sequencing

Entry into the program

  • Earth Systems Science
  • The History of Earth, Life, and Global Change
  • Oceanography: Introduction to the Marine Environment

Core courses

  • Sedimentology and 2 additional 200-level courses
  • Geomorphology and 2 additional 300-level courses
  • One additional course at the 200- or 300 level


Students are required to take 18 to 20 credits (5 courses) of electives, chosen from the following list:
  • Environmental Geology
  • Origin and Distribution of Natural Resources
  • Climatology
  • Structural Geology
  • Hydrogeologic Systems
  • Paleobiology
  • Paleoclimatology
  • Biogeochemical Cycles
  • Stratigraphy
  • Field Techniques
  • Earth Materials
  • Independent Research

Other required courses

  • 1 year calculus
  • 1 year chemistry
  • 1 GIS course


  • Senior Seminar in Geosciences

Additional Comments

The college also has a 'writing in the major' requirement which we are developing over the next year.

Advising is important to ensuring that each student's curriculum is broad and covers the basics.

Additional Materials

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