Pathways Overview

Program Pathways are a series of courses and experiences carefully selected to help you earn your credential and prepare for your career or university transfer. Program Pathway Maps guide you through quarter-by-quarter coursework, indicate when you’ll need to complete important steps, and describe popular careers in this pathway. Some course sequences or recommended courses can be customized or adjusted by speaking with an advisor.


Program lengths are estimates, not guarantees. For the most current program information, please check with the program contact.

North’s Program Gives Special Attention to NW Geological Processes

In North’s geology courses you study the earth, the materials that make it up and the processes that have shaped it through time, interpreted in terms of plate tectonics. Special attention is given to both deep-earth and surface processes that have shaped the Pacific Northwest.

Geology courses satisfy AA science degree or career training program requirements, provide transfer preparation without a degree, individual courses for those already in a 4-year school (lab science credits especially in demand) or personal enrichment. Geology classes have been fully online as well as in traditional classroom format since 1999. There are hybrid classes as well.

Labs & Field Trips

Earth science lab facilities are outstanding— the finest collections and equipment of any community college earth science program. NSC’s labs are the beneficiary of turnovers at the UW, and the College has a close working relationship with the university and access to their facililties, including seismology labs and natural history exhibits.

Instructors make good use of local resources to highlight concepts. All geology courses have field trips to areas like Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Baker, the San Juan Islands, the Olympics, and the UW Burke Museum of Natural History. A 5-day field trip is the capstone of the Pacific NW Geology course.

Curriculum Highlights

  •   Origins, evolution, biology, behavior and extinction of dinosaurs and their relationship to birds and mammals 
  •   History of the biosphere, Earth’s climate and its changes
  •   Relationship of geologic, climatic and ecological habitat changes
  •   Evolutionary theory and how it applies to the classification of organisms
  •   Basic geologic and biologic processes that produce fossils and other evidence of past life
  •   Application of the principles of the scientific method to develop and test hypotheses
  •   Identification of a basic number of earth materials, including rocks and minerals, and earth processes, both deep-earth and surface
  •   Understanding and use of topographic and geologic maps
  •   Understanding how hazards and resources are related to earth materials and processes
  •   Use of rocks, minerals and maps to interpret the geological history of an area
  •   Interpretations of observations and field notes


Course Satisfies Curiosity About the Ocean

North’s oceanography course gives an introduction to the physical, chemical, geological and biological processes active in oceans and ocean basins, as well as the human impact upon the sea’s natural equilibrium processes and current issues in the field. The course is intended for non-science majors who are interested in and curious about the ocean.

The course satisfies AA science degree or career training program requirements and provides personal enrichment. You’ll have use of North’s excellent earth science lab facilities, with the finest collections and finest equipment of any community college earth science program.

The oceanography course sometimes takes a field trip to the Seattle Aquarium or does field study to observe organisms and their relationship to the environment and other organisms.