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Earth and Space Sciences


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Earth and Space Sciences

207 Merion Science Center
720 S. Church Street
West Chester, PA 19383

Phone: 610-436-2727

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The Department of Earth & Space Sciences prepares students for rewarding careers in geoscience and education. We offer two Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree programs in Geoscience, as well as a teaching certification program in both General Science and Earth and Space Science (B.S.Ed.). We also offer a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Geoscience that is designed for the professional development of geologists and pre-college teachers. Check out our multiple minors as well. Our Department is a friendly, nurturing, and exciting place that prides itself on personalized attention to our students!

We Offer:

  • Courses that build career skills: problem-solving, cooperative teamwork, field work, data analysis, written/oral communication, and cutting-edge training on scientific instruments
  • Flexible curriculum with opportunities for independent study research or internships for credit
  • A solid foundation for a career in the environmental industry, geology, or teaching in secondary schools
  • A faculty of nationally-known scholars
  • A large alumni network of professional geologists and teachers in the Philadelphia Region
  • An Earth and Space Science Club, SGE (The Geology Honors Society), plus participation in the Women in Science and Astronomy Clubs
  • Graduate assistantships (GAs), scholarships, travel and research grants available each semester!


Career opportunities in Geoscience are EXCELLENT!

Come join our community and plan a rewarding career to make the world a more sustainable place for the future! For more information, contact the Department of Earth & Space Sciences Chairperson,

Dr. Joby Hilliker

or Linda Slack at 610-436-2727.

What Can I Do With My Geoscience Degree?

B.S. Geoscience

Geoscientists study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the Earth. They study the Earth’s geologic past and present by using sophisticated instruments to analyze the composition of earth, rock, and water. Many geoscientists help to search for natural resources such as groundwater, metals, and petroleum. Others work closely with environmental and other scientists to preserve and clean up the environment.

Geoscientists usually study and work in one of several closely related fields of geoscience. Geologists study the composition, processes, and history of the Earth. They try to find out how rocks were formed and what has happened to them since their formation. They also study the evolution of life by analyzing plant and animal fossils. Geophysicists use the principles of physics, mathematics, and chemistry to study the Earth’s surface, its internal composition, ground and surface waters, atmosphere, oceans, and magnetic, electrical, and gravitational forces.

Many geoscientists work in the petroleum and natural gas industry, an industry that also employs numerous other workers whose jobs deal with the scientific and technical aspects of the exploration and extraction of petroleum and natural gas. Among these other workers are engineering technicians; science technicians; petroleum engineers; and surveyors, cartographers, photogrammetrists, and surveying technicians. Also, some physicists and astronomers, chemists and materials scientists, atmospheric scientists, biological scientists, and environmental scientists and hydrologists perform related work both in the exploration and extraction of petroleum and natural gas and in activities having to do with the environment.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment of geoscientists is projected to grow by 14% through 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. This geoscience degree prepares students for entry-level positions in such occupations and is also a strong foundation for persons interested in pursuing advanced degrees.

B.S.Ed. Earth and Space Sciences

Middle school teachers and secondary school teachers help students delve more deeply into subjects introduced in elementary school and expose them to more information about the world. Middle and secondary school teachers specialize in a specific subject, such as English, Spanish, mathematics, history, or biology. They also may teach subjects that are career oriented. Vocational education teachers, also referred to as career and technical or career-technology teachers, instruct and train students to work in a wide variety of fields, such as healthcare, business, auto repair, communications, and, increasingly, technology. They often teach courses that are in high demand by area employers, who may provide input into the curriculum and offer internships to students. Many vocational teachers play an active role in building and overseeing these partnerships. Additional responsibilities of middle and secondary school teachers may include career guidance and job placement, as well as follow-ups with students after graduation.

In addition to conducting classroom activities, teachers oversee study halls and homerooms, supervise extracurricular activities, and accompany students on field trips. They may identify students with physical or mental problems and refer the students to the proper authorities. Secondary school teachers occasionally assist students in choosing courses, colleges, and careers. Teachers also participate in education conferences and workshops.

Employment of preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers is projected to grow about as fast as average. Job prospects are expected to be favorable, with particularly good prospects for teachers in high-demand fields like math, science, and bilingual education, or in less desirable urban or rural school districts.

M.S. Geoscience

Geoscientists often begin their careers in field exploration or as research assistants or technicians in laboratories or offices. As they gain experience, they get more assignments that are difficult. Eventually, some are promoted to project leader, program manager, or to a senior research position. [And for said positions] A master’s degree is the preferred educational requirement for most [of these] entry-level research positions in private industry, Federal agencies, and State geological surveys. Geoscientists in research positions with the Federal Government or in colleges and universities frequently are required to design programs and write grant proposals in order to fund their research. Geoscientists in consulting jobs face similar pressures to market their skills and write proposals so that they will have steady work. However, those who choose to work in management will spend more time scheduling, budgeting, and reporting to top executives or clients.

Graduates with a master’s degree should have excellent opportunities, especially in the management, scientific and technical consulting industry and in the engineering services industries. In addition to demand resulting from job growth, replacing those who leave the occupation for retirement, managerial positions, or other careers will generate a number of jobs. With relatively few students earning master’s degrees in the geosciences, job openings may exceed the number of qualified job seekers over the 2016-26 projection decade. However, geoscientists with doctoral degrees, who primarily work as college and university faculty or do basic research, may face competition.There will be fewer opportunities for geoscientists in Federal and State government, mostly because of budget constraints at key agencies, such as the USGS, and the trend among governments toward contracting out to consulting firms instead of hiring new government employees. However, departures of geoscientists who retire or leave the government for other reasons will result in some job openings over the next decade.


What's currently going on in the Department?

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Alumni Spotlight

  • Malcolm Morris

    Name: Malcolm Morris
    WCU Degree: B.S Geoscience: Geology Concentration 2016
    Current Location: Upper Darby, PA
    Occupation: Field Technician, Groundwater & Environmental Services (GES).

    The faculty at WCU helped me to attain my degree in a field I am passionate about. More than that, they have instilled in me life lessons and experiences which I will cherish years after my graduation. I must stress the importance of a college education, not only for facilitating your potential career, but for the advancement of your mind. With that said I wholeheartedly recommend any prospective students to consider an education with West Chester University.

  • Krissy Sherlock

    Name: Krissy Sherlock
    WCU Degree: B.S Geoscience: Earth Systems 2015
    Current Location: Charleston, SC
    Occupation: Graduate Student at College of Charleston, Graduate Assistant in the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Planning

    During my time in the Earth and Space Science Department I grew not only as a professional, but as a person. Not only did I gain skills and knowledge needed to advance my career, I also made a great group of friends and had the best experience. I got the opportunity to participate in cutting edge research with Dr. Joby Hilliker, while leading on the executive board of the honors earth science fraternity. Currently, I am working on my master’s degree at the College of Charleston. I plan on obtaining a master’s in both environmental studies and public administration. I am applying the knowledge and skills that I gained from the department of earth and space sciences to my thesis work focusing on meteorological hazards management.

  • Sarah Sharkey

    Name: Sarah Sharkey
    WCU Degree: M.A. Geoscience 2014
    Current Location: State College, PA
    Occupation: Research Assistant at Penn State University

    The amount of time the department dedicates to being in the field and working in teams was an invaluable experience for the start of my career. I use skills I learned from my research in the Gordon Natural area, my multi-disciplinary classes, and time spent in the GIS lab in my current position as a research assistant for the NSF Critical Zone Observatories program. I wanted a versatile degree and I feel confident my master’s education at WCU has prepared me to move from academia to industry as I navigate my career path in the field of Earth Science.

  • Rebecca Schremp Flannery

    Name: Rebecca Schremp Flannery
    WCU Degree: B.S. Earth Science/Geology 1997, Teacher Certification 2003, M.A. Geoscience 2007
    Current Location: PA Department of Environmental Protection
    Occupation: Geologic Specialist

    When I started at WCU, I chose the Geology Department because I thought it would be interesting. Right away, all the students and teachers in the department made me feel welcome, like one big happy family. I currently work at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection using my degree as a Geologic Specialist. I work in the Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields section, where I use state regulations to make sure that responsible parties clean up soil and groundwater contamination to an appropriate standard.

    My education at West Chester has been ongoing since I started there in 1993. I’m currently pursuing my Professional Geologist (P.G.) license since this was not available when I graduated. Throughout my years at WCU, the professors and staff have always been there to help me out, answer questions and offer support. I feel that all the classes that I took in receiving my degrees have helped me understand and be more prepared for my job.

  • Jennie Matkov, B.S.

    Name: Jennie Matkov, B.S.
    WCU Degree: B.S. Geoscience Geology, Anthropology Minor, 2009
    Current Location: West Chester, PA
    Occupation: Research Assistant, Stroud Water Research Center, Avondale, PA

    "The incredible field experiences and warm community of the West Chester University department of Geology and Astronomy facilitated such a wonderful learning environment. Not only did I learn the technical intricacies of the geoscience field, but most importantly I was taught how to continually apply this knowledge in creative ways to ask more questions and to solve multidisciplinary problems. The amazing faculty in this department created in me an ability to build my career within the context of who I am and where I want to go."

  • Russell Losco, B.A., M.A., PG, CPSS

    Name: Russell Losco, B.A., M.A., PG, CPSS
    WCU Degree: M.A. Geoscience, 2009
    Current Location: West Grove, PA
    Occupation: Principal Geologist & Soil Scientist, Lanchester Soil Consultants, Inc

    Completing a master’s degree in geoscience at West Chester University opened countless opportunities for me. In addition to allowing me to become licensed as a Professional Geologist, I am now an adjunct professor, a published author with several peer-reviewed publications, and am active on a national scale in research and in professional organizations. The geographical range and scope of my work has increased dramatically based upon the knowledge and experience that I gained through West Chester.

  • Maureen Moore, class of 2007

    Name: Maureen Moore, class of 2007
    WCU Degree: B.S. Geology & B.S.E.D. Earth & Space Science Secondary Education (dual degree)
    Occupation: Geologist, Newmont Mining Corporation

    While attending West Chester University, I got the opportunity to be a part of the Geology & Astronomy Department. The well-rounded education I received from West Chester University has set me up to use my degree in a variety of disciplines within the field of Geology and Earth Sciences. Prior to pursing a graduate degree in Economic Geology and Ore Deposits, I had the opportunity to work for an environmental consulting firm directly supporting DuPont. I am currently working as a geologist in the emerging talent program at Newmont Mining Corporation in Denver, Colorado. The emerging talent program allows students coming out of graduate school to get exposed to the different geologic disciplines within the mining industry. My current focus within the program is precious and base metal mineral exploration. Without the solid geologic foundation I received from WCU, I would not have the opportunities I have.

  • Dr. Tom Watters

    Name: Dr. Tom Watters
    WCU Degree: B.S. Earth Sciences, 1977
    Current Location: Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum
    Occupation: Senior Scientist and Chair, Center for Earth and Planetary Studies

    My time at West Chester University set me on a path to become a planetary scientist. George Reed, Sy Greenberg, and the others were more than my teachers; they were my mentors and my friends. What success I’ve achieved as a scientist, I owe in large measure to them.

  • Dr. Laura Mazzagatti

    Name: Dr. Laura Mazzagatti
    WCU Degree: M.S. Geoscience
    Current Location: West Chester, PA
    Occupation: Secondary Education Science Teacher

    In obtaining my Masters from WCU, I have been able to combine my passion for both science and children as a Secondary Education Teacher. I have been pleasantly surprised by how rewarding and fulfilling this profession is and I enjoy brightening the minds of students with Astronomy, Geology, Meteorology, Physical Science and Environmental Science. I have WCU to thank for their incredible graduate program and talented professors.

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