Field Course Info for Majors

Learning to make original, quantitative observations about the natural world while outdoors (in the 'field') in rural and/or urban environments is an essential part of modern Earth and Environmental science. In general:

  • All students must take ESCI 3911 (3.5 weeks, summer), Introductory Field Geology
  • All students must take either one of these advanced courses:

ESCI 4911 (after ESCI 3911; 3.5 weeks, summer), Advanced Field Geology, or
ESCI 4971W (either before or after ESCI 3911; 3.5 weeks, summer), Hydrogeology Field Course

If a student desires or needs to build an alternative field-camp plan, see the detailed information below

All ESCI undergraduate programs currently require the completion of two summer field geology courses as stated above. Each of these field courses are 3.5 weeks long and worth 4 credits apiece. These courses are full-time learning experiences (morning to evening) that take place away from campus, sometimes in another state (ESCI 3911). They are purposely scheduled not to overlap, so that students may take both the introductory and an advanced field course in a single summer if they choose. This scheduling arrangement has the added benefit of preserving an additional summer for a research or job experience.

Each of our field geology courses requires a course fee to cover the cost of travel, food, and lodging (as necessary for each course). The most recent information about the course fees can be found on our department’s Field Course webpage and students and their families are encouraged to learn about and plan for these fees. The department offers all Earth Sciences and Environmental Geosciences majors scholarships that can be applied to each UMN field course that they take. Application information about the departmental field geology course scholarships is circulated via email to all undergraduate majors early in Spring semester.      

Occasionally, there are circumstances where students may want to consider alternative options to the ESCI field geology courses described above

1. If a student is interested in taking an alternative field course offered by another university/college with a specialized focus (e.g., volcanology, paleontology, etc.) or location, then that student should meet with their ESCI academic adviser and ask whether the course could be used as an alternate for ESCI 3911, one of the advanced courses, or both. The student should provide as much information as possible about the course so that the academic advisor can assess the concepts addressed in the course, the skills that would be learned, and the course’s duration. ESCI academic advisors may need time to discuss such courses with the Undergraduate Studies Committee, so students are encouraged to start this process as early as possible. Students should not enroll in a non-UMN field geology course unless they are confident that it can be counted towards their degree program. Departmental field geology course scholarships are not intended for non-UMN field courses. 

2. If a student has concerns about the physical accessibility of a particular field geology course, then they are encouraged to speak with their ESCI academic advisors. The department will endeavor to find alternative arrangements for students with disabilities that would make participation in the field courses difficult and/or dangerous. Please be aware that ESCI 4971W is designed to meet ADA accessibility standards.

3. If a student is unable to afford the field courses (even when scholarships are awarded), or if personal responsibilities related to childcare or family-care preclude a student’s participation in a summer field geology course, then they are strongly encouraged to meet with their ESCI academic adviser to discuss alternative arrangements that will allow them to successfully complete their degree program requirements.