Strong Geoscience Departments > Degree Programs > Profiles and Planning Documents Collection > Degree Program Profiles > Geobiology, Penn State

Geobiology Program, Pennsylvania State University

See the Penn State Geoscience department's brief overview of this program on the university's website.

Jump down to Context * Connecting to the Future of Science * Goals * Courses and Sequencing


Illustration of the Penn State Geobiology curriculum, constructed by Carol Ormand with assistance from Tim Bralower in 2007. Click on the image to see a larger version.

The Geobiology program is one of five undergraduate major programs (six including an integrated BS/MS option) offered by the Geosciences department at the Pennsylvania State University. It is oriented toward students preparing for advanced studies in this emerging discipline, and for careers in the environmental sciences.

Connecting to the Future of Science

Geobiology is the interdisciplinary study of the Earth and its biosphere. It embraces the history of life and its interactions with the earth over geologic time; it also includes study of interactions between living organisms and physical and chemical processes in the modern environment on Earth, and possibly elsewhere in the universe. Thus, geobiology encompasses the fields of paleobiology and paleontology, biogeochemistry, geomicrobiology and astrobiology.


The degree program provides students with a strong background in general science and especially in Geosciences and Biology, with core selections from both disciplines. Students gain practical field experience in the study of the physical environment and ecological properties. The senior thesis provides students with hands-on research experience, as well as an emphasis on data synthesis and the written expression of scientific observations and ideas. Students will be well prepared for advanced studies in this emerging discipline, and for careers in the environmental sciences.

Courses and Sequencing

The curriculum for this program is illustrated in the image at the top of this page. You can see a larger version by clicking on that image, or by downloading this PDF version. (Acrobat (PDF) 585kB Feb26 07) Alternatively, you can read the detailed list of requirements from Penn State's Geosciences department by following the link on their website.