Field Experience

One of the highlights of your undergraduate experience is the geology field experience.   This requirement is usually satisfied by participation in an approved six week summer "field camp".  These field camps are run by numerous universities outside of SU that routinely accept students from other institutions.  There are traditional geological field camps, or a more discipline-specific field course (e.g. hydrogeology).  Syracuse University typically approves geology field camp experiences that include 4-6 weeks of intensive field study including excursions to key geological sites as well as geological mapping and related exercises.

Choosing a Field Camp

It is necessary to apply for acceptance by a particular field camp.  Among the factors you will want to consider when choosing a field camp are:

  • Geography (our general advice:  West is Best);
  • Geology (structural complexity and style, principal bedrock types; ruggedness (some "rough it" all the way; others are tamer); and
  • Reputation (best judged by talking with seniors and graduate students who have had recent, first-hand experience).

Students should consult "How to Choose a Geology Field Camp". In addition, geology.com has a list of field courses offered by 100+ schools.  You can examine brochures advertising many such programs in the department office (Room 204) or on the department bulletin board.

Occasionally, students are able to meet the field course requirements with an NSF-sponsored Research Experience for undergraduates (REU) or Keck Consortium field experiences.  Students are encouraged to visit the websites for these programs to see what is available to them for the particular year they plan to satisfy the requirement.


Advanced Faculty Approval and Transferring Credit

Prior approval for field camp locations need to be secured from the Director of Undergraduate Studies.  In some cases students may need to petition the faculty for approval.

Six or more transfer credit hours may be accepted by Syracuse University if the field camp is pre-approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.  The credits are awarded by the outside University program and transferred to SU as EAR470, experience credit.


When Do You Go to Field Camp?

Most Earth Science majors take field camp in the summer between their junior and senior years, but you can also receive a B.S. degree at commencement, pending completion of the requirement in the summer following graduation.  An important consideration in timing is your own background: courses in Structural Geology and Sedimentology or Stratigraphy may be required.


Pre-Requisites for Field Camp

Students attending a traditional geological field camp (the majority of our students) should have successfully completed EAR317 and EAR333 before they attend the field course.  If they have not yet taken those courses, they will need to supply a written communication with the director of the field camp of their choice to the effect that those courses are not required.

Scholarship for Field Camp

The department recognizes that these courses constitute an extra financial burden on students.  Therefore, if available, the department will provide a supplement (currently $400) to our students to offset the cost of this course.  To be eligible for the supplement, students must request support in writing to the Chairperson by April 1 of the year that they intend to attend field camp.  A brief email requesting support and specifying the field camp is sufficient.

In addition, students are encouraged to make every effort to secure additional funding from outside this institution to offset course costs.  For example, the National Association for Geology Teachers offers a scholarship for field study, and many individual field programs offer a variety of ways to offset costs, both merit-based and need-based.