Why Study Geology at SUNY Oswego?



  • Employment in geoscience expected to continue fast growth through 2012
  • Median earnings for geoscientists and environmental scientists was $72,100 in 2010
  • Average beginning salary for geoscientists with B.S. degree was $39,317 in 2010
  • The Geology program at Oswego State has spearheaded the campus' G.I.S. initiative
(U.S. Dept. of Labor 2010 statistics)

Solid Fundamentals  

The Oswego Geology faculty feel strongly that hands-on experience is critical to becoming a complete geoscientist.  A 2004 examination of the Geology program by external experts had this to say about our program:

"The Geology program in the Department of Earth Sciences at SUNY at Oswego has long been recognized for its tradition of excellent preparation of undergraduate students.  After this review, it is clear that the tradition is still alive."

Studies in Geology require a significant component of outdoor activity, unlike most majors in the natural and physical sciences.  Almost all Geology courses involve either field-related projects or field trips to regional areas of interest.  The major also requires students to complete a 5 week summer field course (GEO 481) which runs each June, partly in the Adirondack Mountains and partly other locations, including the Hudson Highlands, western Maine, Cobalt, Ontario, the Thousand Islands region, and the Tug Hill Plateau in northern New York.  The noted Field Camp program gives students experience mapping and solving geological problems in the field and emphasizes research.

Additionally, the Geology program has led an initiative to develop Geographical Information Systems (G.I.S.) courses and to incorporate G.I.S. into existing courses, in order to benefit our graduates. G.I.S. skills are becoming ever more essential in the job market.

Close Faculty - Student Contact

It is all too common for the University experience to be one of anonymity for students; however the Geology faculty actively works to make all majors feel that they are important parts of the program.  Undergraduate enrollment in the B.S. programs in Geology (with a track in Environmental Geology) and Geochemistry at Oswego averages 30 majors with another ~10 majors in Adolescence Education/Earth Sciences.  With 4 full time professors, this enhances faculty-student interaction by maintaining small class sizes.  Beyond the 100-level, Geology major classes contain 10 students on average.  Close connection between faculty and students allows for enhanced, individualized networking between future graduates and prospective employers for all students.

Undergraduate Research

Geology at Oswego offers undergraduate students unprecedented opportunities for research.  Geology was among the first programs at Oswego to require all students to complete a Capstone research thesis or internship.  Each student, working with their chosen faculty advisor, determines the topics for thesis projects.  Strong connections between Oswego faculty and scientists at regional institutions (Columbia University, McGill University, SUNY-Buffalo, University of Rochester, Syracuse University) permit expanded opportunities for undergraduate research.  Many of these projects lead to published works in scientific journals and presentations at international conferences.  In fact, four Geology majors have been awarded the top prize at recent Quest days, SUNY-Oswego's annual campus-wide research celebration.

Why is research important?  Research gives students experience that classes are less capable of imparting: formulating scientific questions, thinking critically, testing hypotheses.  The Capstone thesis program further requires additional preparation in scientific writing and communication, invaluable skills in the workplace.  This ensemble of experiences delivers skills that are central to success in careers not only in research, but also in industry, teaching, and policymaking.

Abundant Jobs in Geology

Outlook for employment in the Earth and Environmental sciences is at its all-time best.  Nowadays a significant proportion of professional geologists work in areas such as urban planning, environmental restoration, and defense intelligence, as well as in oil, gas, and mineral exploration.  Graduates from a strong Geology program like SUNY-Oswego's can expect employment opportunities in a wide assortment of industries.  Most recent graduates are employed in industries related to the environment or as secondary teachers.  Many of our students have also found success in excellent graduate programs such as SUNY-Buffalo, SUNY-Stony Brook, Rutgers University, Temple University, the University of Florida and the University of Pittsburgh.

An Education Employers Respect

Employers cite the demanding course load and high-level research that all Oswego graduates undertake as key components to their successes in industry.  Employers know that Oswego graduates have solid grasp of both geological principles and fundamental science and mathematics, since all students must satisfy requirements in calculus, physics, and chemistry as presented in notoriously demanding courses.

The focus in the Geology program is to give students the intellectual tools with which to excel in whatever endeavor they choose.  Thus, rather than emphasizing fashionable topics, we seek to pass on transferable skills: quantitative reasoning, independent analysis, effective time management, and practical application of theory.