Students on rocks

Beyond the Classroom

Research Opportunities

Research is strongly encouraged as part of the undergraduate experience. It is a valuable opportunity to participate in cutting-edge studies and get a taste for what it means to contribute new knowledge to science. Research opportunities cover a wide range of topics, and may include field work or laboratory based research. Many undergraduates choose to complete senior theses as a capstone experience; some choose to do research throughout their four years at WashU. To get started, peruse our Research page for a list of department labs and research groups. Most faculty have research opportunities for undergraduates in their lab, but you're invited to contact faculty with whom you've taken a course previously, and whose research you find exciting.

If you are interested in completing a thesis, please see the Senior Honors Page.

If you are interested in performing non-thesis research for credit, you have the option of signing up for EPS 390 Independent Study

For rough guidance, here are some typical expectations:

Independent Study Experiences
- 0.5 hours per week of one-on-one instruction plus a body of written work of at least 2500 words (or equivalent project work) for one unit.
- 1.0 hours per week + 3750 words (or equivalent) for 2 units.
- 1.5 hours per week + 5000 words (or equivalent) for 3 units.

Guided Research Experiences
- Minimum two to three hours per week during standard semester is required for 1 unit.
- Additional reading outside of research time expected.

Students with flags at huaco

STUDY ABROAD PROGRAMS

Frontiers Program for Geology

The Geology of New Zealand program can be used to fulfill the 6-credit field camp requirement for Geology majors. For this program it is recommended that applicants have completed courses in Physical Geology (e.g. EPS 201), Historical Geology (EPS 385), Earth Materials or Mineralogy (EPS 352), Petrology (EPS 437), Structural Geology (EPS 460), and Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (EPS 422). This program is hosted at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. Majors applying to this program should have completed a minimum of four classes on this list.

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Frontiers Program for Earth Systems

Students can also participate in the New Zealand Earth Systems course. This program does not fulfill the field camp requirement. For this program it is recommended that applicants have completed courses in Physical Geology (e.g. EPS 201) Earth Materials or Mineralogy (EPS 352 or EPS 336), Hydrology (EPS 428 or EPS 429), Surface Processes (EPS 409), and Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (EPS 422). This program is hosted at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch or at the University of Auckland. Majors applying to this program should have completed a minimum of four classes on this list.

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Trinity College Dublin

This program offers a mixture of classroom field modules, through the Department of Geology. Students enrolled in this program during the spring semester participate in several international field trips around Europe. Spring enrollment in this program can be used to fulfill the 6 credit field camp requirement for Geology majors. Destinations currently includes trips to County Wexford Ireland, the Almeria region of Spain, and the mainland and volcanic islands of Greece. For students enrolling in this program, it is recommended that they have completed courses in Physical Geology (e.g. EPS 201), Earth Materials or Mineralogy (EPS 352), Petrology (EPS 437), Structural Geology (EPS 460), and Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (EPS 422). Students enroll through IES Abroad Dublin, which arranges housing, student support, and cultural excursions around Ireland.

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University of Cape Town

This program offers classes in Geology and the opportunity to take a number of courses among different disciplines. This program does not fulfill the field camp requirement. For students enrolling in this program, it is recomended that they have completed courses in Physical Geology (e.g. EPS 201) and Earth Materials or Mineralogy (EPS 352). A core component of the program in Cape Town is service learning. Students enroll through IES Abroad Cape Town.

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University of Edinburgh

This program offers courses in Earth Science and the opportunity to take a number of courses among different disciplines. This program does not fulfill the field camp requirement. For students enrolling in this program, it is recommended that they have completed courses in Physical Geology (e.g. EPS 201) and Earth Materials or Mineralogy (EPS 352). Students enroll through Arcadia University.

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University of Queensland

This program offers courses in Earth Sciences and the opportunity to take a number of courses among different disciplines. This program does not fulfill the field camp requirement. For students enrolling in this program, it is recommended that they have completed courses in Physical Geology (e.g. EPS 201) and Earth Materials or Mineralogy (EPS 352).

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Get into the Field

Undergraduate Field Courses

In EPS at WashU, we believe that hands-on application of field-based techniques is integral to your education. Therefore, we offer our course Undergraduate Field Geology each spring to provide an opportunity for you to synthesize diverse classroom knowledge in a field setting. This course includes an international trip over spring break, which is paid for by the department. Recent trips went to such farflung locales as Scotland, Italy, Spain, and the Azores off of Portugal. You can see photos from these trips in our Photo Gallery.

Special First-Year Student Opportunities

For incoming first-year students, we also offer the first-year seminar Geology in the Field. In this "geology bootcamp," you will learn the fundamental skills of field geology: map reading and mapmaking, GPS, rock and mineral identifications, sample collection strategies, structural identification and analysis, field observational skills, and how to make local observations in a regional context. While these skills are directly applicable to further study in geology or environmental sciences, they are highly relevant to any field science. The course also teaches practical skills of field logistics and safety, including backcountry hiking & camping, wayfinding, and caving. 

Field Camp Opportunities

All field camps must be approved by Professor Jolliff prior to enrolling

Most field courses recommend that applicants have completed courses in physical geology (such as EPSc 201, Earth and the Environment), historical geology (such as EPSc 385), Earth materials or mineralogy (EPSc 352), petrology (EPSc 437), structural geology (such as EPSc 361, 460 or 496), and sedimentology/stratigraphy (such as EPSc 422). EPS majors applying to field camp should have completed at least several of the classes on this list. 

Many programs begin accepting applications in the fall, so apply early. Typical expenses are in the range of $4000 to $5000, and these tend to cover tuition and fees, most lodging and meal costs, but not necessarily all.

Some field camps popular with our majors include:

University of Missouri, Branson Field Camp 
(very popular, fills up early in the fall)

Iowa State University Field Camp 

Southern Illinois University (SIU) Field Course 

National Field Camp Program List 

Approval of Summer Field Camp Selection Form (PDF)