Academic Catalog


Ocean and Earth Sciences

Department website:

Rodger Harvey, Interim Chair
Richard Hale, Chief Departmental Advisor

The Department of Ocean and Earth Sciences offers the following undergraduate majors in Ocean and Earth Science: Biological Oceanography, Chemical Oceanography, Environmental Sciences, Physical Oceanography, Geology, Marine Science Technology, Secondary Earth Science Education (6-12) and Middle School Science Education (6-8). A minor in Ocean and Earth Science is also offered. 

The department receives considerable support from the Commonwealth and local philanthropic sources, as well as from private industry and area citizens. Establishment of the Virginia Graduate Marine Science Consortium by the General Assembly in 1979 demonstrated the Commonwealth's determination to achieve excellence in marine science. The purpose of the consortium is to advance marine science instruction, research, training, and advisory services and to enhance Virginia's position in seeking funding to carry out these activities. Charter members of the consortium are Old Dominion University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and the College of William and Mary. The Samuel L. and Fay M. Slover endowment to Old Dominion University in 1986 has significantly accelerated the program of marine studies. In 1991, a Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography (CCPO) was established at Old Dominion University by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The center is a Designated Center for Excellence.

The Department of Ocean and Earth Sciences is housed in two buildings. The Oceanography/Physical Sciences Building contains state-of-the-art teaching laboratories, computer facilities, and research laboratories for biological, chemical and geological oceanography. The Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography is located in the Research I building and houses all of the department's physical oceanography laboratories. The department maintains a 55-foot research vessel, the R/V Fay Slover, primarily for estuarine and coastal studies. In addition to the Slover, the department has a number of small boats suitable for near shore investigations.

Practicum Experiences

Students in the Ocean and Earth Science majors have the chance to participate in a practicum—a hands-on, course-length experience that closely ties their classroom learning with "real life."  Students in Biological Oceanography, Chemical Oceanography, Physical Oceanography, and Geology take OEAS 441/OEAS 442W, Field Study. Students in the other majors (Environmental Science, Marine Science Technology, Secondary Earth Science Education, and Middle School Science Education) can take OEAS 441/OEAS 442W as upper-division electives.  Students may also complete an internship (OEAS 368) with a municipal, state, or federal government agency, a non-governmental organization, or a business.  In addition, Honors students may also develop a senior research project in OEAS 487.

Professional Geologist Certification

Ocean and Earth science graduates who work for several years as geologists and then pass a national standardized test can be certified as a Professional Geologist by the Commonwealth of Virginia or other states. The standardized tests commonly cover the following topics (listed ­in order of emphasis on the test): Research, Field Methods, and Communications; Structural Geology; Hydrogeology; Sedimentology/Stratigraphy; Petrology; Geomorphology; Engineering Geology; Mineralogy; Geophysics; Paleontology; Geochemistry; Mining Geology; and Petroleum Geology.

Credit by Examination

Students with prior training or experience may receive credit for three hours of OEAS 111N by passing the DANTES Physical Geology exam. Both tests are administered by the Testing Center. Because OEAS 111N is a four credit course students must also complete a physical geology laboratory course (one credit) in order to use this advanced placement credit. Interested students should contact the chief departmental advisor about this course. Students may also refer to the Policy on Prior Learning Assessment Credit Options at the Undergraduate Level found in this Catalog.