The Stretch

The Earth Sciences Department has offered an off-campus field program, also known as the "Stretch", since the mid-1960s. The Stretch is thus among the most storied and longest-lived off-campus programs at Dartmouth. 

About the stretch


The program provides a world-class opportunity for Dartmouth undergraduates to gain experience in traditional and emerging field techniques in the Earth Sciences, to learn about the spectacular geology of western North America, and to travel, work, and live closely with fellow students and Dartmouth faculty. The format typically includes seven serial segments which, in recent years, have begun with an introduction to glaciology in the Canadian Rockies, subsequent geotours of many of the National Parks of the Western US, several three- to four-day geological mapping exercises in Wyoming, Nevada and California, projects examining the environmental geochemistry of streams and soils, geophysical studies of Death Valley, and a culminating hike into and out of the Grand Canyon. Along the way, students are exposed to a wide range of ongoing research projects conducted by Earth Sciences faculty, graduate students, and senior thesis students.

Apply to the Program

Apply from the Guarini Institute website. The deadline is February 1st. This program is only opened to Dartmouth College students. 

Please note that Earth Sciences Department has two majors: Earth Sciences (EARS) and Environmental Earth Sciences (EARV).  The stretch is recommenced for the EARV major but not required. Students pursuing the EARS majors are required to complete a one term field experience.  It is highly recommended that all EARS majors take the EARS 45, EARS 46 and EARS 47 sequence (The Stretch). However, we recognize that this may not  be an option for all students, as for example some international students and students with physical limitations, or students with athletics eligibility conflicts.  The Department of Earth Sciences is committed to making the earth sciences accessible to all and encourages students who are unable to complete The Stretch to consider, as appropriate, summer field courses offered by other universities or the alternative accessible field courses listed on the International Association for Geoscience Diversity website.  Substitute field methods course offered by other institutions must be approved in advance by the Chair. Since substitute courses will likely receive one Dartmouth course transfer credit, a student will usually need two additional Earth Sciences courses numbered 30 or above to meet Dartmouth’s eight course major requirement. Be advised that the registrar  charges a fee to transfer credits to Dartmouth. 

Scholarships for non-Dartmouth summer programs may be found here :

Program Aims

  • To expose students to a broad overview of the geology of Western North America. When coupled with geologic experiences in New England, the Stretch provides students with an understanding of the important geologic processes that have shaped North America, and indeed the world in which we live.
  • To involve students in the scientific method in a field based setting.
  • To provide an opportunity for students to engage with their peers in challenging, collaborative science.
  • To introduce students to the many lifestyles and cultures of the Western US and Canada

Learning Objectives

  • To develop a working knowledge of geologic time and an appreciation of geologic processes and spatial scales.
  • To be able to generate, read and understand a geologic map and a topographic map.
  • To understand how to collect and interpret geological, geochemical, and geophysical data.
  • To develop an awareness and understanding of geologic resources and hazards.
  • To know how to employ the scientific method to answer field based questions.

stretchies at work

Death Valley Time lapse - Gravity Measurements

info from past years

Past Years - Blogs

Emma Menio '16 created a great segment by segment blog about the program - check it out here!