Program Requirements and Opportunities

Published annually, the Course Catalog sets out the requirements of the academic programs--the majors, minors, and concentrations. Each Bryn Mawr student must declare a major before the end of the sophomore year. Students may also declare a minor or a concentration, but neither is required for the A.B. degree. Students must comply with the requirements published in the Course Catalog at the time when they declare the major, minor and/or concentration.

The Course Catalog also sets out the College requirements. Students must comply with the College requirements published at the time they enter Bryn Mawr College.

For more information, visit the Catalog Homepage to view the current content. To view Catalogs from previous academic years, visit the Catalog Archives page.

Students may complete a major or minor in Geology. Within the major, students may complete a concentration in geochemistry.

The department seeks to give students a well-rounded Earth science education that balances fundamental knowledge of geology with broadly applicable problem-solving and communication skills. The integrated science of geology combines biology, chemistry, and physics as they apply to the workings of Earth and other planets. Well-trained geoscientists are increasingly in demand to address the environmental challenges and natural resource limitations of the modern world. A central tenet for understanding and predicting Earth processes and environmental change is the ability to decipher past Earth history from geologic records. Thus, the major in Geology includes study of the physics and chemistry of Earth materials and processes; the history of the Earth and its organisms; and the range of techniques used to investigate the past and present workings of the Earth system. Experiential learning is an important part of geology training. Field trips, lab work, and other practical experiences are part of many of our courses and student research projects.

Major Requirements 

Twelve courses are required for the major: GEOL 101 (How the Earth Works), 202 (Mineralogy), 203 (Biosphere through Time), 204 (Structural Geology), 205 (Sedimentary Materials and Environments), at least two semesters of quantitative or computational coursework (e.g., MATH 101 and 102 or alternates approved by your adviser), a two-semester sequence of CHEM (103-104) or PHYS (101-102 or 121-122), GEOL 399/400, and either two advanced geology courses or one advanced geology course and an additional upper-level course in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, or computer science.

The writing requirement for the major in Geology is fulfilled through completion of GEOL 202, 204 and 205, all of which are writing attentive.

Additional courses in the allied sciences are strongly recommended and are required by most graduate schools. A student who wishes to follow a career in geology is encouraged to attend a summer field course, usually following completion of the 200-level courses for the major.

Senior Capstone 

All Geology majors participate in a senior capstone experience, which is a year-long course series (GEOL 399/GEOL 400), totaling one credit, that combines an independent project and a bi-weekly seminar. The independent project gives students the opportunity and experience of creatively developing their own academic project; following through on that project; getting constructive feedback on that project; revising and improving that project; and submitting a report or other product that effectively communicates the project’s outcomes. Students’ independent projects may take a variety of creative forms and are developed in consultation with the student’s agreed upon advisor. Ideally the independent project is organized, planned, and arranged by the student and advisor by the end of the student’s junior year. So as not to overload any one faculty member in the department, the total number of students will, as best as possible, be distributed across the faculty evenly, with preference given to those students whose projects overlap the expertise of a given faculty member.

The focus of the capstone seminar is to reinforce students' ability to address geoscience questions and to communicate their findings orally and in writing. Students and faculty meet once every other week to develop skills necessary to complete independent projects, discuss topics related to scientific literacy and practice, and prepare students for the next step in their careers.

Minor Requirements

A minor in Geology consists of two 100-level Geology courses, and any four of the 200- or 300-level courses offered by the department. Two 0.5 credit courses may be combined to count toward one of the 100-level courses. Alternatively, an additional 200- or 300-level course may be substituted for one of the 100-level courses to meet the minor requirements.

Concentration in Geochemistry

The geochemistry concentration encourages students majoring either in Geology or in Chemistry to design a course of study that emphasizes Earth chemistry. Paperwork for the concentration should be filed at the same time as the major work plan. For a Geology major with a concentration in geochemistry, the following are required: GEOL 101, 202, 203, 204, 205, and 399; CHEM 103 (General Chemistry) and CHEM 104 (General Chemistry II); CHEM 211(Organic Chemistry) or CHEM 231 (Inorganic Chemistry); GEOL 302 (Low Temperature Geochemistry) or GEOL 305 (Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology) or GEOL 350 (requires major advisor approval); one additional 300-level geochemistry-themed GEOL course or one additional advanced CHEM course. For a Chemistry major with a concentration in geochemistry, the following are required in addition to Chemistry major requirements (see Chemistry major advisor): GEOL 101 (How the Earth Works), GEOL 202 (Mineralogy/Crystal Chemistry), two additional 300-level geochemistry-themed GEOL courses including GEOL 302 (Low Temperature Geochemistry) or GEOL 305 (Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology) or GEOL 350 (requires Geology major advisor approval). For course planning advice, contact Pedro Marenco (Geology) or Sharon Burgmayer (Chemistry).


Honors are awarded to students who have outstanding academic records in Geology and allied fields and whose independent project is judged by the department faculty to be of the highest quality.