Undergraduate Advising in Earth Sciences



As soon as you develop an interest in possibly majoring in Earth Sciences, let us provide you with an advisor. That advisor can not only help you with Arts and Sciences Core Requirements, as did your original "freshman" advisor, but can also help design a program to meet your goals as a major in our Department. If you intend to minor in Earth Sciences, your primary advisor will probably be in another department, but be sure to consult us concerning our side of your program.

 We are a very "open" department, and you should feel free to seek advice from any of us at any time! However, our "official" assignment is:

Director of Undergraduate Studies:  Linda Ivany, 214 Heroy Geology Laboratory, lcivany@syr.edu, 443-3626
Academic Coordinator:  Jolene Fitch, 204 Heroy Geology Laboratory, jofitch@syr.edu, 443-2674

Four Year Plan Templates

In an effort to help you schedule your courses in compliance with the program requirements of the various Earth Sciences degrees, we have developed the following four year plans that are meant to be a guide that can be adjusted as needed.  Click on the link to see the detail:

Four Year Plan for a Bachelor of Science

Four Year Plan for a Bachelor of Science with a Focus in Environmental Science

Four Year Plan for a Bachelor of Arts

Each semester, you will meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies or Academic Coordinator to review your transcripts and proposed course selections to ensure your steady progress toward your anticipated degree program.  Once this advising meeting occurs, your advising hold will be lifted and you will be able to register for classes for the next semester. 

Petition for a B.S.

Students are automatically enrolled for a Bachelor of Arts degree program when they declare the major.  It is necessary for the student to petition to receive the Bachelor of Science degree.  The completed petition and a copy of your transcript from myslice must be forwarded to the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Academic Coordinator in the department of Earth Sciences.  The petition will be reviewed and approved if all the degree requirements are planned for or met.  An ideal time to accomplish this milestone is during academic advising prior to registration for courses.


Periodically, Dr. Ivany and Jolene will publish The Undergraduate Update.  This newsletter includes topics regarding registration, alumni news, summer field camps, research, graduate school considerations, and more.

September 2011

November 2011 

January 2012
September 2012

Outside the Classroom


Field experience is so important to geology that we incorporate field trips into many of our courses. But we urge that you take advantage of other opportunities to get in the field. Sometimes you can go along on trips in courses other than those in which you are enrolled (or intend to enroll). Or someone may informally organize a departmentally sponsored trip completely separate from any course. Watch bulletin boards.

 Also watch for announcements of trips sponsored by regional or special-interest organizations. Every fall, a wide selection of field trips are offered by the New York State Geological Association (NYSGA) and the New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference (NEIGC). Similar trips are run each spring by the Field Conference of Pennsylvania Geologists. Undergraduates are very welcome on all of these, and the cost is minimal. Watch bulletin boards. Often, a van will be going from Syracuse.


Participation in meetings of professional organizations may seem like something you are not ready for, but that is not necessarily true! Such meetings consist of all-day "technical" sessions, each dedicated to a particular theme or subject area, in which a series of 20-minute presentations are given by individuals who have research results to report. One can pick and choose the particular "papers" and sessions one attends. If you attend such meetings, you will be astonished by how much you understand, you will learn a lot , and you will gain perspective on your field that is obtainable in no other way.

 Among the best are the annual (spring) meetings of the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America (NEGSA). The host city changes from year to year. Usually it is within reasonable driving distance, and almost always there will be a van of SU people, some of them attending as presenters.

 Even this early in your career, you might want to consider joining a professional organization - the Geological Society of America (GSA), Society of Sedimentary Geology (SEPM), American Geophysical Union (AGU), or some other. Journals, newsletters, and meeting-registration discounts come with membership, and most such professional organizations offer reasonably priced student memberships.


Often, individual professors may have projects that can involve undergraduates in field or laboratory work, but without the formal structure that would be required if you were to register for EAR 490. Although such participation would not involve academic credit and would not appear on your official transcript, it can provide enjoyable opportunities for you to get involved in research activities in your chosen field. Such projects are usually discovered through the departmental grapevine, or by directly approaching a professor whose interests you share.


Too many undergraduates think of their professional training as limited to their formal academic program, and overlook the enormous opportunities available to them in the form of special presentations and other activities. Almost every week, the Department hosts a visiting scientist as part of our Earth Science Seminar Series. The main talk is usually given in Room 113 at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, followed by light refreshments in Room 115, but often the speaker will give other presentations, as well. Some of these talks may be specialized, and presume background you do not yet have. Even so, attending can often provide insights into the kinds of research and developments that are at the cutting edge of your major field. And some talks will be readily accessible and interesting even to a general audience.


Apart from their technical content, special events such as the Seminar Series provide you with opportunities to meet prominent people whose important contributions will become well known to you later in your career. Indeed, you may well find yourself shaking hands with someone who will be part of next week's evening news, or featured on the cover of Time .

Other Important Resources

Geology Computer Lab

The Geology Computer Lab, established to encourage the use of computers in geological research and teaching, is located in Rm 005, HGL. Access to the Computer Lab is restricted. Earth Sciences majors needing to use the Lab should see Bonnie Windey 204 Heroy.

McKelvey Lounge

  The Vincent E. McKelvey Lounge is located adjacent to the Library on the third floor of HGL. Dr. McKelvey, whose bachelor's degree was from SU (1937), had a long and distinguished career that included several years as Director of the U.S. Geological Survey. The Lounge is open to all the Department's students. You will find it a pleasant place to relax, meet people, and carry on informal conversations.

Bulletin Boards

In the hallway outside the main office is a large bulletin board where we post items of particular interest to undergraduates. You will find announcements relating to field camps, summer institutes, summer jobs, etc. Also make sure to browse the "GENERAL," "PROFESSIONAL," and "THIS WEEK" panels to the left of the door.