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Admission to the Geology undergraduate major was suspended in May 2006

This page and links on it are only for the record; they do NOT indicate an active Geology undergraduate program

Geological Sciences Undergraduate Information
 Links to sections down this page:
Why study Geology?  |  Majors  |  Degree program requirements
Minor  |   Special programs  |   Graduate school opportunities [BS/MS program]  |  Faculty  |  Careers
Other information sources on Geology  |  Geology Program Undergraduate brochure
Undergraduate Bulletin: Degree requirements   |   Undergraduate Course listing

Undergraduate Majors

The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences offered up to 2010 the following undergraduate degrees which included some content of the Geological Sciences:
The B.S. degree program in Environmental Science.
Prospective Earth Science high school teachers needed to define and follow a Student-Initiated Interdisciplinary B.S. major in Earth Science
There was also a B.A. degree program in Earth and Atmospheric Science.
The BS degree program in Geology was suspended due to inadequate faculty resources to sustain it.
In addition, admission to the graduate program leading to M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Geological Sciences has also been suspended, also from lack of resources at this institution.

The faculty were strongly committed to undergraduate teaching. Geology courses in the Environmental Science BS were normally taught by the faculty, including freshman level courses. The faculty generally received high teaching evaluations; one faculty member, Dr. John Delano, is a Distinguished Teaching Professor. Sophomore through senior level courses were a reasonable size (10-20 students), promoting individual attention by faculty, and by teaching assistants in laboratory sections under faculty supervision.

Geology is an essential component of studies to understand the surface environment of the Earth, including Global Climate Change, resource discovery and limits, environmental hazards and their possible mitigation, and satisfactory remediation of subsurface pollution.
[More - Why study Geology?]

Required Courses for the BS degrees

There was a significant revision of the requirements and courses for the Environmental Science BS major effective Fall semester 2009. Please see the current Undergraduate Bulletin listings for official details. Please contact the Department in person or through email if you need any clarification of the revised requirements, or of the procedures necessary to do an interdisciplinary major.

 Environmental Science BS majors in 2010 were required to complete a 45-credit core curriculum consisting of two courses each in calculus, chemistry, and physics, one course in biology, and 8 courses in environmental sciences (5 of which had a geological component). 21 additional credit hours were also required in a concentration; the Geology concentration of the Environmental Science BS required at least 5 additional geology-focussed courses. For the Earth Science Interdisciplinary BS, a minimum of 7 geology-related courses were required, together with five courses in Atmospheric Science [16 credits], a course in astronomy [3 credits], and two courses each of chemistry and physics, and one or two in calculus.

The Department offered an Honors Program for qualified majors. Double majors in environmental science-math, environmental science-physics, environmental science-chemistry, or environmental science-atmospheric science were encouraged for interested and qualified students.

Most students completed their degrees in four years, even if they didn't start the Environmental science major until the sophomore year.
Transfer students entering with an Associates degree were in most cases able to complete their BS degree in two years.

*Earth Science BS majors: Because of changes required by the New York State Education Department, purely undergraduate teacher education degrees are no longer offered at Albany.
An undergraduate Earth Science Interdisciplinary BS degree should be combined by prospective high school Earth Science teachers with a subsequent MS degree in the School of Education, or elsewhere.

Geology Minor

A separate minor in Geology was available to students in majors other than Environmental or Earth Science. This required a minimum of 20 credits in courses in Geological Sciences, including 9 credits in courses with prerequisites of Geology courses. [Undergraduate Bulletin listings for details]
Environmental, and Earth Science majors got a combined major and minor in Geology or Earth Science, although they could choose in addition to declare a specific minor in another field.

Special Programs and Opportunities

The Department co-sponsors a seminar series that provides students with a sampling of significant topics in current research presented by outside speakers from research universities. Seminars are also presented by graduate students on their research. All these seminars are open to interested undergraduates.

Albany is located amongst by far the most richly varied geologic setting of any of the SUNY University centers, making it superior for field-based education, which was always a particular strength of the former Department of Geological Sciences. The Environmental Sciences Program had 2 courses that involved significant geological field experience. These were:
in the fall semester - Stratigraphy,Stratigraphy
          class in the Catskill Devonian - 4.0 K jpg link to 64K jpg  in the spring semester - Structural Geology;Structural Geology class on the upper Hudson River - 3K
          jpg link to 59K jpg
we were unable because of the shrinkage of faculty resources to continue to offer the senior-level Field Mapping course.
Field Mapping
          class on Ripogenus Lake, August 2002 - 4K jpg link to 58K jpg

Undergraduates could do an internship in Albany at the New York State Geological Survey, NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Dept of Transportation (DOT), U.S. Geological Survey (water resources)[map], or with private companies. Interested undergraduates could also assist in the research program of a faculty member.

Graduate School Opportunities

Because admission to the Geological Sciences graduate program has been terminated, qualified undergraduates cannot any longer enroll for a combined B.S./M.S. program (5 years) which generally saved approximately 1 year toward the completion of the M.S.


All faculty published regularly in leading scientific journals, and are well known internationally in the geosciences. Research topics in 2010 included: geochemical investigations of moon rocks, and geochemical studies bearing on the origin of life (Dr. John Delano); processes creating the mountains formed during continental collisions in the Himalayas/Tibet, and the Appalachians (Dr. William Kidd); climate change inferred from the use of isotopes in deep-sea sediments and living corals (Dr. Brad Linsley); tropical climate change, glacial retreat in the Andes;  (Dr. Mathias Vuille).


Graduates with a B.S. in geology have found employment not only in jobs directly related to geology (oil exploration, mineral exploration, groundwater, consulting geologist, laboratory research assistant, secondary school teaching [Earth Science/teacher education major]), but also in fields such as computer systems analyst, journalist (science or other fields), technical sales, librarian, politician (e.g., Bruce Babbit), and many others. Geology, or Environmental Science would be a highly appropriate B.S. degree to obtain before entering law school, especially for those intending to specialize in environmental law, mining law, or water law. Students are advised that environmental consulting businesses (groundwater, pollution remediation, etc) prefer to hire graduates with a Geology BS or MS degree, although students with Environmental Science BS degrees have obtained employment in this field.

Geologists who obtain an M.S. degree have a much wider range of professional opportunities in fields using geologic expertise, including oil, mining, and environmental engineering companies, as well as federal and state agencies (geologic surveys, water supply, environmental conservation, and others). Many of our Geology Ph.D graduates successfully found employment in academic positions at universities in the US and abroad.

For more information

Dept. of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences ES 351, The University at Albany, Albany, NY 12222
(518) 442-4466     email

American Geologic Institute http://www.agiweb.org/
4220 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302-1507
(703) 379-2480

American Geophysical Union http://www.agu.org/

Geological Society of America http://www.geosociety.org/

American Association of Petroleum Geologists http://www.aapg.org

Why study rocks, mud, and dead bones? (or, what is the significance of Geology?)

"Tell me about the past, and I will know the future" (Confucius)

Richter (Professor of Geophysics at Chicago, and a National Academy of Sciences member) claims (reference below**) that geology programs alone provide a unique, and uniquely valuable experience for university students in that only in geology do they get to combine a distinctively historical, and pragmatic, observational approach in combination with exact analytical/experimental techniques using highly sophisticated computational and analytical devices. We also maintain that only from the evidence of geology may students gain a full appreciation for the history of life; particularly for the immense time it has taken for life on earth to reach its present development, and for the huge changes in environmental conditions that have taken place in the geological past, with highly significant impact on all living things (for example, mass extinction events, including the event 65 million years ago which extinguished the dinosaurs). The recent geological past (20,000 yr), with rapid deglaciation and 120 meter rise in sea level, and large climatic changes, is particularly relevant. The changes brought about by humans over the last few hundred years, including very high rates of species extinctions, represents one of the most significant events in Earth's 4,500,000,000 year history (entirely derived, prior to the written and archaeological records, from the evidence of geology). Only students that have been exposed to courses in geology can be expected to appreciate fully the evidence for these things and the significance of the challenges and political choices that await us in the likely event of anthropogenically-induced global climate change. For the most part, the general public is poorly aware of the serious limitations of earth resources, particularly the fact the world's petroleum reserves are now at peak production and will be severely diminished within about 40 years. Geology is also the only program where students may learn about natural geological hazards (earthquakes, volcanos, landslides, floods, erosion, etc.) and the assessment, reduction and avoidance of these. Geology is also essential to understanding and planning rational responses to the needs for long-term radioisotope disposal, the remediation of contaminated groundwater, and the prevention of future pollution of groundwater by hazardous materials. **Richter, F. (1991). Geology and the university. Geotimes, v.36 (9), p. 5.

And here's another way to express the significance of the geological and atmospheric sciences

Geology, atmospheric sciences and architecture of the State University at Albany uptown campus

Return to Required Courses for the BS degrees, above

Return to Geological Sciences index page
Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences

Last revision:  2009/06/16