Undergraduate Life

laying on the ground to get a closer look

Life as an undergraduate student in Earth and Climate Sciences includes the normal mix of academic and social events, but we provide additional opportunities designed to help our students get the most out of their experience.  For example, many of our classes include field trips where you can interact more closely with professors and other students, we actively seek student involvement in our research programs, and we have dedicated spaces in our building for students to gather and socialize. Building on these opportunities we offer a rigorous and practical curriculum that allows students to choose courses that best meet their interests and career goals.  Students can pursue a traditional program of study, or use electives to focus on a particular aspect of Earth and Climate Sciences.

See the topics below for more information:

What to Expect as an Earth and Climate Sciences Major

structure field trip to Bar Harbor(1) You can expect an academic experience that you help to shape and that prepares you for a range of career opportunities in research, industry, government agencies or non-pro?t organizations.  The School of Earth and Climate Sciences is composed of several active research groups, including crustal studies and geodynamics; glacial geology, glaciology and climate change; hydrology and environmental geochemistry; and marine/coastal geology and sedimentology.  We encourage our students to participate in the research activities of one or more of these groups, through projects in Maine and around the world. Click on the Research or People links for information about the faculty and their respective fields of study. (2) You can expect an excellent work environment.  The School of Earth and Climate Sciences is located in the Bryand Global Science Center, one of the newest buildings on campus providing large, modern work spaces equipped with a wide range of facilities and laboratories available for undergraduate student use. (3) You can expect a strong peer group. In addition to the informal study groups that develop, you will find good company in the Geology Club, an active organization that plans social events and field trips throughout the year.(4) You can expect to learn outside of the classroom.  In addition to class field trips, ways you can get involved include:

  • do research
  • participate in field trips
  • work in a lab
  • be a field assistant
  • seek out faculty outside of class
  • join the Geology Club
  • attend departmental lectures by faculty and invited speaker from around the world
  • attend professional conferences at state, national, and international levels

Travel and Fun in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences

field friends on an ice sheetThe department offers travel opportunities through course-related field trips, research expeditions, participation in field trips organized by professional organizations, and Geology Club field trips. The photo at left shows two undergraduate students participating in a summer research project in Greenland. Earth Sciences comes alive in the field, strengthening student-student and student-faculty connections, which is why field trips are an important part of undergraduate learning. Many UMaine Earth Science courses include ?eld trips to a variety of places around Maine.  Opportunities to travel in Maine or to exciting places farther afield, such as Antarctica, New Zealand, Mexico and Canada, are available as a research assistant. Additionally, students can join the Geology Club, a student-run organization that includes local and more distant trips with other fun events. Past field trips have included the Colorado Plateau, Grand Manan Island, North Carolina, and Jamaica.  As part of the undergraduate curriculum, students are required to attend a 5 to 6 week-long ?eld camp course, usually located outside of Maine.  Many ?eld camps are based in the Western United States, but some are offered in other countries such as Ireland, Italy and Turkey.  Check out our Slideshows to view pictures from various undergraduate trips.

What Research Opportunities are there for Undergraduates?

undergraduate field workFaculty members in the School form four research groups that cover the broad topics of climate change, environmental geology, plate tectonics and marine geology. We encourage our students to participate in research with these faculty members, either as independent work in association with one or more faculty members, or as a laboratory or field assistant. Independent research can lead to a senior thesis, which may be used to satisfy the thesis requirement of the University of Maine Honors College.  Several students have presented their senior work at regional and national professional meetings and some have coauthored scientific papers on their results. A senior thesis is an excellent experience that also impresses potential employers and graduate advisors. Check our Research page for more information about research topics and links to associated faculty members. If you already have a specific area of interest, contact us and we’ll connect you with the appropriate faculty members so you can learn more about the possibilities within their field. We make an effort to match students with projects and faculty that will provide enriching experiences and valuable knowledge.

Undergraduate Academics

Our curriculum combines required core courses and elective in Earth and Climate Sciences, as well as ancillary sciences and mathematics. All Earth and Climate Sciences students also complete the university’s General Education requirements.  Our core courses are designed to provide our undergrads with a solid understanding of Earth processes and an introduction to the broad spectrum of ?elds in the Earth and Climate Sciences.  Elective courses allow students to build upon this foundation and pursue individual interests.  For more information on the required curriculum for undergraduates, as well as Earth and Climate Sciences courses, check out the Program Requirements page.

Life as an Earth and Climate Sciences Undergraduate


walking through the woodsGoing to college is a fun and valuable experience in your life, but is much different from the high school experience.  Incoming students participate in a course designed as an introduction to the School, faculty and available resources. This helps students quickly integrate into our undergraduate group, and provides lots of opportunities to meet new friends and participate in departmental activities. Our undergraduate advisor helps to design student schedules to make the most of their academic experience, and serves as a contact point for new students. Outside of the classroom there are plenty of extra-curricular activities both in and out of our department. The Geology Club sponsors hikes and other activities, and there are also a wide range of university-wide programs for undergraduates including club sports, musical and theater groups, movie nights and concerts.



Contact Information

Please contact Alice Kelley with any questions you have about our undergraduate program.