Initial Publication Date: May 6, 2013

Geology, Geophysics, or Geochemistry at SUNY Geneseo

Information for this profile was provided by Ben Laabs, Geological Sciences, SUNY College at Geneseo. Information is also available on the program website ( This site may be offline. ) . Students in this program are pursuing a bachelors degree.

Program Design & Assessment


The Department of Geological Sciences at SUNY Geneseo offers three B.A. degree programs; Geology, Geophysics and Geochemistry. In 2012-13, these programs include 83 Geology majors, 17 Geophysics majors and 4 Geochemistry majors. Approximately 25% of Geology majors are also Secondary Education majors planning to teach Earth science at the middle school or high school level.

Strengths of this program

  • Required courses (Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Mineralogy, Petrology, Geomorphology, and Stratigraphy) focus on developing skills in recognizing and distinguishing between different geologic materials and their physical, geometric and temporal relationships.
  • Erosional and/or constructional landscape concepts, principles, and processes are covered in required courses (Physical Geology, Historical Geology, and Geomorphology) through the following: lectures, course assignments (lecture, laboratory &/or field), paper discussions, and/or field trips.
  • Required courses (Historical Geology, Structure, Geomorphology, Stratigraphy, and Paleontology) require students to use the laws of superposition and faunal succession in deciphering Earth history through course assignments (lecture, laboratory &/or field), paper discussions, paper assignments, research projects and/or field trips.
  • Students learn the proper usage of a variety of field and analytical tools (optical microscope, Brunton compass, thin-section-making equipment, field note-taking, Jacob staff, laser range-finder, pace count, global positioning system, scanning electron microscope, and other techniques depending on research project needs) for the purpose of data collection and analysis in required courses (Mineralogy, Petrology, Structure, Geomorphology, Stratigraphy, Paleontology, and Seminar).
  • Data analysis skills are addressed in required courses (Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Petrology, Structure, Geomorphology, Stratigraphy, Paleontology, and Seminar) through course assignments that involve data presentation and interpretation. Some also include data collection. Currently, the following techniques/software are being utilized: Excel, ArcGIS, Corel and Adobe products.
  • Required courses (Mineralogy, Petrology, Structure, Geomorphology, Stratigraphy, Paleontology, and Seminar) have scientific paper assignments. Some paper assignments involve accessing and interpreting journal articles to understand geologic processes and the development of ideas in the subfields of geology. Literature research papers go a step further and require students to access, critically evaluate, and assimilate multiple scientific sources into one comprehensive article. Research papers include a literature review section and require students to present the results and interpretations of their research.
  • Required courses (Mineralogy, Structure, and Seminar) provide students with the opportunity to develop professional oral presentation skills under the guidance and training of the faculty. The development of written communication skills is addressed through required paper writing assignments in several required courses as part of our department writing requirement. Student comfort with the language of geology is, in part, developed by these opportunities throughout the Geneseo curriculum.
  • Required courses (Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Structure, Geomorphology, and Stratigraphy) have exercises that introduce students to topographic and geologic map reading skills. Assignments in upper-level courses (Structure, Geomorphology, and Stratigraphy) involve advanced map reading and interpretation skills and the development of geologic maps and cross-sections.

Types of students served

  • Geology students preparing for graduate school and jobs in the petroleum and environmental consulting industries.
  • Education majors working toward a teaching certificate.
  • Liberal arts students preparing for a wide range of careers.

Program Goals

The goals of this program are as follows:

  1. Identify, describe, and interpret Earth materials, and evaluate the physical, geometric, and temporal relationships.
  2. Recognize and interpret the origin and evolution of erosional or constructional landscapes (e.g., fluvial, glacial, arid, coastal, volcanic, deformational) within the context of modern tectonics and climatic concepts.
  3. Recognize and utilize the laws of superposition and faunal succession in deciphering Earth history.
  4. Use appropriate field and analytical tools for the purpose of data collection and analysis.
  5. Critically evaluate data and interpretations, and succinctly communicate data and observations using spreadsheets, graphical and/or spatial analysis tools.
  6. Access and utilize the geologic literature.
  7. Communicate effectively in both oral and written formats as well as be comfortable with the language of geology.
  8. Create, read, and interpret topographic maps, geologic maps, and cross-sections.

The learning goals were informed by the following resources:

National reports and institutional policies, the available expertise of six full-time faculty, and discussions with employers and alumni.

How program goals are assessed

The Geology, Geochemistry, and Geophysics programs are assessed approximately every two years by internal evaluations and every five years by external reviews of the programs.

Design features that allow goals to be met

Writing and research requirements are assessed by all the faculty in our Capstone Seminar. Exams in required courses are designed in ways to accommodate the assessment of learning outcomes.

Alumni Careers

Graduation rate

Since 2010, an average of 20 students per year.

Careers pursued by our alumni

Most of our graduates begin a M.S. or Ph.D. program within 2 years of graduation. Of these, a slight majority work in industry (energy companies or environmental consulting) and the rest become teachers.

Courses and Sequencing

Diagram of course sequencing and requirements