Office: 121 Houghton Hall

(716) 673-3303

Gordon Baird, Chairperson



The Department of Geosciences offers five degree programs.

The B.S. degree program in Geology is intended primarily for students planning to undertake employment or graduate study in geology or who desire a liberal arts education with an emphasis in geology. Most geologists are employed by private industry – in petroleum, mining, cement, ceramic, sand and gravel, and in environmental and engineering firms. Many work for various federal agencies and the 50 state geological surveys, or are self-employed, often working as consultants. Colleges and universities offer teaching and/or research positions.

The B.S. degree program in Geochemistry, an interdisciplinary program with the Department of Chemistry, prepares the student to undertake employment or graduate study in this field. Geochemists are employed in the mineral resource industries, earth and space sciences, environmental sciences, and several branches of chemical science and technology. In addition to careers in industry, geochemists are employed by consulting firms, academic institutions, and the federal government.

The B.S. degree program in Geophysics, a joint program with the Department of Physics, is intended primarily for students interested in pursuing a graduate program or employment in geophysics (or geology). Career opportunities exist within industries, engineering consulting firms, and the federal government dealing with subjects as diverse as energy, waste management, the environment, natural resources availability, weather forecasting, the prediction of climate change, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and planetary science. Academic institutions provide teaching and research opportunities.

The B.A. degree program in Earth Science is intended primarily for students who want a liberal arts education with a broad emphasis in the several sub-disciplines that constitute the earth science. It is useful to those who have career goals in production, technical services, information systems/processing, marketing/sales, administration and/or finance, rather than goals of becoming professional scientists.

The B.S. degree program in Adolescence Education is intended for those students who plan to teach earth science in secondary schools. It includes the fundamental courses in geology, meteorology, astronomy, and oceanography, which constitute the “content” of earth science, and the necessary professional education courses.

Students planning to pursue a career in the earth sciences as professional scientists should earn one of the B.S. degrees in Geology, Geochemistry, and Geophysics rather than the B.A. or B.S. degrees in Earth Science, because the former require a more rigorous background in physics and mathematics which is needed to pursue graduate studies in the geosciences or employment as professional scientists.

Teacher Certification: Students who desire to teach earth science in secondary schools may obtain initial certification by completing the B.S. degree program in Earth Science with its required professional courses in Education EDU 224, EDU 250, EDU 301, EDU 302, EDU 303, EDU 349, EDU 430 and Science Education SCED 105, SCED 276, SCED 303, SCED 305, SCED 419). Students in all education programs are required to demonstrate competence in a foreign language. This requirement may be satisfied in any one of the following ways: (1) Achieving an 85 percent on a Regents language exam, (2) Achieving a 65 percent or better on a Regents language exam and successfully completing an Elementary I or Elementary II level college language course, (3) successfully completing Elementary I level and Elementary II level college language courses in the same language, or (4) successfully completing an equivalent Fredonia language proficiency exam. The College Core Curriculum foreign language requirement differs from the certification requirement and must be satisfied for degree conferral. Students are screened by the department chairperson before entering SCED 419.

Students are encouraged to participate in the activities of the Geology Club and Geophysics Society.

The department awards textbook scholarships for academic achievement each semester and annually presents the MacDiarmid Award to the department’s outstanding graduating senior, the Paul D. Willette Scholarship to the outstanding junior, the Walther M. Barnard Geosciences Scholarship to the outstanding sophomore, and the Mark D. and April Hoefner Orgren Scholarship to the outstanding freshman. The Susan Mara Scholarship is awarded by the faculty to students deserving of special recognition, and the Florence M. Eikenburg scholarship is awarded to outstanding sophomore or junior majors, with first preference going to female students. In addition, the department awards the Spatial Studies Award to outstanding students pursuing studies in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and related fields.

Explanation of geosciences (GEO) course numbers: 100-level courses are introductory courses without prerequisites; 200-level courses are general service courses with prerequisites; 300-level courses are upper-level College Core Curriculum courses, and electives and required courses for geosciences majors; and 400-level courses include required and elective courses for majors, generally with high-level or multiple prerequisites.

Laboratory credit: 1 credit hour of laboratory work includes three clock hours in the laboratory per week. Four (4)-credit hour courses in geosciences include 1 credit hour of laboratory work.