Jan 28, 2023  
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog 
    
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geosciences, B.S.


Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Arts and Sciences Departments and Programs

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 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 in more detail below, 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). 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 other course that includes experiential learning (field-, lab-, or research- based work), and a senior CTW capstone course GEOL 4830 /GEOG 4830  to help 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


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 ).

Area A


Required course:

Area D


Required course


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

Area E


Recommended course:

Area F: Courses Appropriate to the Major (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 Area F requirements will count toward elective hours.

Required Courses (11 Hours)


(if not taken in Area D)

Complete one of the following science sequences (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, or chemistry sequence depending on their interests (if interested in graduate school or employment as a physical scientist for water resources the chemistry sequence is recommended). Students in the Geography or Urban Studies concentrations should complete the geography sequence.

Select additional elective courses from the following to complete 18 hours in Area F


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, or computer science sequence depending on their interests.

Area H: Minor and Additional Courses


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.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Arts and Sciences Departments and Programs