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Undergraduate Program

The Department of Geological Sciences at Brown is well known for its top-quality undergraduate program. It is also rated among the best research departments in the nation.


Prof. Jack Mustard conducts a First Year Seminar entitled
"Global Environmental Change" in the Lincoln Field Building

We encourage students to learn more about the geological sciences by taking one course, or several, or a concentration program with independent research. Our faculty offer courses in which they share their expertise and enthusiasm for the geological sciences with non-science and non-geology concentrators. These courses can be an enjoyable and meaningful part of a liberal arts education at Brown, giving students an opportunity to learn how the land, water, and air around us directly affect our lives. The Department also has a strong focus on developing students' communication and critical thinking skills.

At the undergraduate level, students are offered the flexibility of A.B. or Sc.B. degrees in four concentration options.

There are typically 60+ concentrators within the department and 20 graduates per year, 80% of which complete a capstone Senior Thesis. Undergraduates have many opportunities to get involved in research and hands-on learning experiences.

The Department is one of the most active in developing and providing First Year Seminars, which emphasize interdisciplinary pursuits that reach beyond the physical and biological sciences into the humanities and social sciences. These freshman seminars offer such varied course topics as Global Environmental Change; Patterns in Nature, in Society; Volcanoes: Windows Into the Deep Earth; and Monsters of the Abyss: Oceanography & Sea Tales

Almost all undergraduates work on an Independent Study project, as paid research assistants, or as Teaching Assistants at some point before they graduate. Research jobs are typically funded from external grants (10-20 per year), as well as Brown Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards, or UTRAs (2-4 per year), and Royce Fellowships. Undergraduates (6-8 per year) also serve as NASA Space Grant Scholars. Concentrators are encouraged to attend summer field courses and are offered some scholarship support for field course expenses. In addition, the department sponsors a two-day field trip every fall, and many courses offer field trips, laboratory exercises, and oral presentations/class discussions that enable students to engage with the course material in a group setting. The success of the undergraduate program is evidenced by the demand for Brown graduates in top-notch graduate programs across the nation.