Jun 23, 2024  
2022-2023 University Catalog 
2022-2023 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geological Sciences website

Geological Sciences, Department of

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Departments and Programs

Department Chair

Adam Woods

Department Office/Website

McCarthy Hall 254


Sinan Akciz, Nicole Bonuso, Joseph Carlin, Matthew Kirby, Richard Laton, Sean Loyd, Valbone Memeti, Kathryn Metcalf, James Parham, Adam Woods


Geological Sciences is the study of Earth through time, including its physical nature, chemical composition and dynamics, as well as its origin and evolution. In addition to the quest for understanding the way Earth works and its relation to the solar system, Earth scientists are involved in the search for energy, mineral and water resources, the evaluation and remediation of environmental hazards, and the prevention and/or prediction of natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, coastal erosion and floods. Earth scientists are employed by private industry, (primarily by engineering, environmental, petroleum and mining companies), government agencies, educational institutions and research centers.

The B.S., B.A. and M.S. requirements are designed to help students develop an appreciation and understanding of Earth, as well as prepare them for: (1) employment in industry or government; (2) teaching at the elementary, high school and community college level; and (3) further graduate studies in the geological sciences. Over 30 300-, 400- and 500-level electives are offered on a regular schedule, enabling students to design individual study plans that satisfy their personal educational goals.

Degree Descriptions

The Bachelor of Arts in Earth Science is designed to provide a well-balanced, cross-disciplinary background that addresses the growing number of Earth science-related problems we face. The program has a small set of core requirements in geology and related fields, such as math, physics, chemistry, biology and geography that are grounded in inquiry-based learning environments. The hallmark of the degree is its flexibility, whereby students, in consultation with department advisers, tailor geology, related fields and undesignated elective courses to their degree and career objectives. The degree prepares graduates to be K-12 science teachers; Earth-educated professionals (e.g., policy makers/politicians, business leaders, lawyers, journalists) who need to understand Earth resource, pollution, climate change and other environmental issues; and citizens who are equipped to manage future changes in Earth systems related to natural and anthropogenic causes.

The Bachelor of Science in Geology is designed to prepare students for a career as a professional geologist or for further education in graduate school. The program provides a well-rounded geology curriculum and set of related science and math requirements. The curriculum promotes hands-on learning and independent geological research that includes critical thinking, data analysis and interpretation, application of the scientific method, and understanding the role of geology in everyday life.  The degree requirements are rich in field and lab studies and include two major capstone experiences: (1) a required immersive study-away geology field course, where students evaluate geology in real-life field conditions; and (2) a required undergraduate thesis where students work one-on-one with a faculty adviser to conduct original research. The degree prepares graduates to enter the geology work force in fields, such as geotechnical engineering, hydrogeology, environmental geology, hydrocarbon geology/exploration or other geology related fields.

The Masters of Science in Geology provides the opportunity to gain an in-depth knowledge and experience centered around one of the sub-disciplines of the geological sciences that builds on the undergraduate foundation. Learning is rooted in field- and/or laboratory-based experiences that are provided by advanced coursework in the discipline. Most importantly, students work with faculty members to conduct original scientific research leading to a written thesis that describes the problem, methodology and results. Students must complete an oral thesis defense and are highly encouraged to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals and present them at regional, national and/or international conferences. The degree prepares students for: professional geology positions in industry and government; geologic consulting opportunities; teaching positions at high school or community college; and Ph.D programs at other institutions.

General Learning Goals

Programs and Courses Offered




      Geological Sciences

      Courses are designated as GEOL in the class schedule. Students must earn a “C” (2.0) or better in geology prerequisite courses for all upper-division and graduate geology courses.

      Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Departments and Programs