Jul 24, 2024  
2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog

Geosciences, B.S.

Return to: 3290 Department of Geosciences  

Students earning the B.S. degree in Geosciences must choose one of four concentrations: Geology, Environmental Geosciences, Geography, or Urban Studies. Many career opportunities allow for practical application of geosciences in industry, consulting firms, non-profit organizations, and government agencies at all levels. Practical and essential applications of geology and geography include development and stewardship of water resources, both surface and subsurface; land-use planning for urban, suburban, and rural development; exploration for and development of mineral and energy resources including petroleum and other fossil fuels; and development of environmentally sound strategies for hazardous waste disposal and treatment. The curriculum leading to the B.S. degree in Geosciences is excellent preparation for graduate work in geology and environmental science, geography, and urban studies. For students who are interested in issues studied through the lens of geosciences but who intend to pursue graduate or advanced study in other fields, for example environmental law or business, the B.S. degree in Geosciences may still be an appropriate choice. The B.S. degree meets certain federal criteria required for science-track career pathways in federal agencies such as the EPA, USGS, and others.

The concentrations in Geography and Geology are the most traditional of the programs, and they are designed to prepare the student for graduate studies or employment in a wide variety of pathways within and beyond geosciences. The Geology concentration is best suited for students who seek careers requiring knowledge and applications from traditional subject areas in geology and any considering employment and state licensure as a Professional Geologist (required for supervisory environmental consultants). The Environmental Geosciences concentration offers a more interdisciplinary set of courses that emphasizes study of the delicate environmental balances of the natural world. Coursework incorporates learning about both human dimensions and physical characteristics of the environment as well as techniques used to understand and address aspects of varied environmental settings and related challenges. The Geography concentration allows for a suite of skills to be gained in studying the world around us from both physical and human perspectives. Students are trained in qualitative and quantitative approaches, techniques to examine issues locally and globally, and how to utilize the power of maps to effect change. The Urban Studies concentration is focused on topics across geosciences applicable to the study of urban settings including social and environmental disparities in cities, issues related to development and economics from urbanization, and more. This interdisciplinary concentration situated in Geosciences affords an opportunity for students to learn beyond the department as well as benefit from a multitude of expertise in Geosciences on human-environmental challenges of the twenty-first century. Specific requirements for the concentrations are shown below.

For all of the concentrations, students may find tremendous benefit in pursuing undergraduate certificates in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), water science, and/or sustainability. These certificates, described elsewhere in the catalog, complement the different concentrations and provide students with the chance to explore in more depth the skills and knowledge needed to obtain employment and/or further their academic studies.


Majors should be aware that there are prerequisites for several courses in our department (especially in the Geology concentration) and should also give attention to the choice of other sciences (e.g., Chemistry) in making sure they are prepared for certain upper level courses. In addition, most of our courses are offered only once a year (and several specialty courses only every other year). Note that classes in the Department of Geosciences are listed under either Geology or Geography in the course catalog. Additional course options may be available by working directly with a faculty member such as through offerings of Topics (GEOG 4097 /GEOL 4097 ) or Independent Research (GEOG 4098 /GEOL 4098 ). The department additionally encourages our students and prospective majors to attend the weekly colloquium series (and/or enroll in the affiliated one credit hour course (GEOL 4095 /GEOG 4095 ) to learn more about the range of opportunities in the discipline both at the university and beyond.

To prepare for the most appropriate path leading up to graduation, it is important to choose a concentration upon declaring the major based on career aspirations (e.g., a geology concentration may still be recommended for certain environmental work if licensure is needed). Students are encouraged to seek advisement early on from within the department to ensure that programs of study accord with their specific career goals and needs, and that they plan ahead by reviewing the schedule of projected courses on the department website. All students are required to complete an entry level class early on in the major (GEOL 3000 /GEOG 3000 ), an internship by enrolling in GEOG 4832 /GEOL 4832  or another course that includes experiential learning (field-, lab-, or research- based work), and a senior CTW capstone course (GEOL 4830 /GEOG 4830 ) to prepare them for their career goals in geosciences after graduation.

Program Financial Information

Lab fees will be assessed automatically for students who register for certain courses. For more information, please feel free to contact the department.

Degree Requirements (120 Hours)

In addition to the Program Degree Requirements outlined below, students must fulfill the College of Arts and Sciences Degree Requirements (see College Degree Requirements ) and the University Degree Requirements (see 1400 University Degree Requirements and Graduation ).

Core IMPACTS Areas

Students may select any of the course options listed in each Core IMPACTS  area. However, specific recommendations for certain areas are listed below. These recommended courses are not required in the Core IMPACTS areas, but are required for the major. If not taken in the core, then they must be taken in the Field of Study or Additional Courses area.  

Mathematics & Quantitative Skills

Recommended course:

Technology, Mathematics & Sciences

Recommended course

Note that the MATH 2201  pathway may not be suitable for pursuing certain higher-level math courses or specific graduate school programs.

Social Sciences

The following is suggested but not required of the major:

Field of Study Area (18 Hours)

  • All courses above ending in K may also be offered as separate lecture and lab (L) courses. The combined (K) courses and separate lecture and lab (L) courses cover the same subject matter and are equivalent courses.
  • Any credit hours exceeding 18 earned to complete the Field of Study Area requirements will count toward elective hours.

Required Courses (11 Hours)

(if not taken in the Technology, Mathematics & Sciences area)

Science Sequence Options (8 Hours)

Students in the Geology concentration should first complete the chemistry sequence. Students in the Environmental Geosciences concentration should complete either the geography, biology, environmental science, or chemistry sequence depending on their career goals. Students in the Geography or Urban Studies concentrations should complete the geography or environmental science sequence. Students interested in graduate school or employment as a physical scientist for water resources regardless of the concentration are recommended to first complete the physics sequence.

Field Electives

Select additional elective courses from the following to complete 18 hours in the Field of Study Area.

Students in the Geology concentration are recommended to take a physics sequence and an additional calculus course if possible. Students in the Environmental Geosciences, Geography, or Urban Studies concentrations are recommended to take either the biology, chemistry, environmental science, geography, or computer science sequence depending on their career goals. Students interested in graduate school or employment as a physical scientist for water resources are recommended to complete chemistry and an additional calculus course if possible regardless of the concentration in the major.

Additional Courses Area

Students earning a B.S. in Geosciences are not required to have a minor.

Graduation with Distinction in the Major

This unit offers undergraduate students with the opportunity to earn the designation of graduation with distinction in the major. Please contact the Undergraduate Director for the specific criteria for this honor.