Geosciences Department

Geosciences Department

Our Program

Three Geology Students in the field.

In our last external review (2016), the reviewers noted that “the Union College Geology Department is, in many ways, undoubtedly one of the best undergraduate geology programs in the country. The faculty are all dedicated teachers and scholars, the equipment and resources available for faculty-student research are extraordinary, and the students they attract into the program are hard-working and highly motivated – with nearly 50% continuing on for postgraduate studies – a remarkable achievement. The Geology Department at Union College is highly successful and a model for what a modern science department at a liberal arts college should be.”

Our program is strong and well-equipped, and is located in one of the most geologically diverse regions in the eastern U.S. We take advantage of our resources, and most courses involve both field and lab work. We have a variety of popular lab and non-lab courses at the introductory level.

We also have a strong undergraduate-oriented research program, with a wide variety of ongoing projects. We are a member of the Keck Geology Consortium, which offers additional research opportunities every summer.

Geoscience majors can and frequently do minor or double major in related disciplines such as Engineering, Economics, Chemistry, Political Science, Biology, or Physics, or any other field at Union.


Geology lab

Laboratory facilities and research in the Geosciences Department are discussed together because of the close connection between available laboratory equipment and research programs. Research in our department serves the dual role of faculty development and teaching. Research labs are the same labs in which many upper level courses are taught. Participation in research and research-like experiences are a vital part of the Union Geoscience education. All laboratory equipment is used in courses, and is accessible to students for use in independent, faculty supervised research projects.

The geological collections in the department represent a significant teaching and research resource. These include the Wheatley, Pfordte, Leo M. Hall, and other collections of minerals, rocks, and fossils. The department also maintains a sizable collection of topographic and geologic maps in addition to the library collections.

The major items of laboratory equipment support specific research and teaching needs. These include rock and mineral analysis (X-ray diffraction, ICP-MS), high pressure equipment to simulate conditions deep within the earth and to make measurements of material properties under those conditions, sedimentology (grain size analysis, inorganic and organic carbon analysis, core image analysis), water analysis (ion chromatograph, field measurement equipment) and general sample preparation equipment (crushers, sieves and shakers, rock saws, thin section equipment).

After Union

Graduation photo of students outside with Nott Memorial in background

Many careers are open to Union Geoscience graduates because of our emphasis on research-oriented activities, technical writing, field work, and public speaking. Our graduates are extraordinarily well prepared for graduate school and many professional fields compared to their peers. About half of our graduates go on to graduate school, and the other half into a wide variety of Geoscience and other fields.