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Advising FAQ

Frequently asked advising questions

  • What is the sequence for different Math courses?

See the math department's website for the sequence of math courses, located at

  • What Calculus sequence should I take?

Math 162 and 274 vs. 171 and 172 
Math 162/274 is applied, Math 171/172 is theoretical.  If you plan to take additional math courses or go to graduate school take 171/172. Note that some government agency jobs and graduate schools require “Calculus I and II” (171/172).

  • What Physics sequence should I take?

Physics 205N/207N vs. 215N/217N
The 215-217 series is calculus based, the 205-207 series is algebra based. Take the 215-217 series if you plan to take additional physics courses or go to graduate school in a quantitative area of Geosciences. Some government agency jobs and graduate schools require calculus-based physics. Keep in mind that both 205 and 215 tend to be offered every semester, whereas 215 (Physics with Calc I) tends to be offered only in the fall and 217 (Physics with Calc II) tends to be offered only in the spring. The calculus-based series therefore requires a bit more schedule planning.

  • What Chemistry sequence should I take?

Chemistry 121N and 123N/124N vs. 141N and 143N
The 121N/123N/124N series is a broad overview of organic and inorganic chemistry, and 141N/143N focuses on inorganic chemistry. Take 141N/143N if you plan to take additional courses in chemistry or go to graduate school in a geochemistry related area of Geosciences. Some government agency jobs and graduate schools require “College Chemistry” (141N/143N).This sequence, because it totals 10 credits, also has the advantage of getting you closer to the department’s cognate credit requirement than the 121N123N/124N, which only totals 8 credits and may therefore necessitate an additional cognate course.

  • How can I fullful my Computer Science requirement?

This requirement is typically filled either by courses in the computer science department, statistics, or GIS. Some good options include CS 177 (Computer Modeling for Science Majors; a semester of calc is a prereq), various GIS courses taught in Geography or Forestry (FOR 250, GIS Practicum; GPHY 381, Principles of Digital Cartography), or STAT 216 (Intro to Stats). When GEO 491 (Data Interpretation Using GIS) is offered, this is a great way to fulfill the computer science requirement, note that this is a more demanding course than the others mentioned here.

  • What Upper Division Writing Course should I take?

To satisfy General Education Requirements (GER) you must take an upper division writing course. The Geosciences degrees do not require that you take a specific course – you are allowed to take any course on campus that satisfies the upper division writing requirement. We (and probably you) would prefer that you take a course that is somehow relevant to science. Course offerings change from semester-to-semester, but courses to keep an eye out for include Global Water (GEO 320), Water Policy (taught in Geography) and occasional courses in Forestry. A senior thesis also satisfies the upper division writing requirement.

  • How many times can I take the Spring Break Field Trip for credit?

Two times.

  • What courses are being offered next semester?

See the link on the advising main page for an advanced look at our tentative plans for upcoming semesters.

  • What is the difference between a Senior Thesis and an Independent Study?

An independent study is a self teaching experience focused on a particular topic. You work with a professor to design the learning experience. For example, let’s say you decide that you are really interested in lahars (volcanic debris flows) but this topic is only covered briefly in our courses. You could work with a professor to design a learning experience focused on lahars. You might read papers and advanced text books about the topic and then compile a detailed set of notes and/or write a summary paper. These can usually be done in one semester.

A senior thesis is an original research project. You work with a professor to design the research. You might collected original data or perform an original analysis of an existing data set. You then make an original interpretation of the data and your analysis. The write-up is a lengthy and detailed thesis where you present the methods, results, interpretations and conclusions. This usually takes two semesters – one semester to collect and analyze data and one semester to write the thesis. 

  • How do I conduct a Senior Thesis (Geo 499)?

You approach a professor about working together on a project. You need to find a match between your interests, skills and course preparation, and their research program. For example, if you want to work with a hydrologist then you should probably have taken courses in hydrology, math and programming because the nature of their research will require that you have this training. You also need to demonstrate that you are a hard-working student with a strong academic record before the professor will commit to doing the project with you.

Can I register for geo 499 for both fall and spring semesters?


How many credits is a senior thesis?

Typically 3 in the fall and 3 in the spring. One semester for data collection and processing and one semester for writing.

How are grades determined?

This is up to you and your advisor. You can receive separate grades for each semester, or you can carryover your project to the second semester (have Loreene fill out a form to indicate you are making adequate progress) and one grade can be assigned at the end of the spring semester for both semesters of work.

  • Which Geosciences core courses are offered in Fall and/or Spring?

GEO 101N, 102N – every Fall & Spring semester

GEO 211 – every Fall semester

GEO 226 – every Spring semester

GEO 228 - every Spring semister

GEO 231 –  every Fall & Spring semester

  • How do I get my questions answered about the International Field Geosciences Degree?

Marc Hendrix does the advising for this degree. Contact him directly.

  • If I got a “D” in a geosciences course does it count toward my degree?

Yes, a ‘D’ reflects badly on your transcripts (employers do look) but is considered a passing grade.

  • How should I sequence the core (100-200 level) geosciences courses?

The flowing order is recommended if possible:





The sequencing of GEO 228 and 231 are more flexible.

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