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Geology BS (includes Paleontology)

Geologists study geologic processes shaping Earth today and through its history to find natural resources, protect the environment, and mitigate geologic hazards. The geology (GEOL) program provides a strong background in the basic sciences and geosciences with an emphasis on technical training, research opportunities, and a broad range of field experiences. Courses available use the magnificent geologic setting of the Black Hills and adjacent Badlands, and the extensive fossil and mineral specimens in the Museum of Geology.  The GEOL degree includes both a geology field mapping course and a two-semester senior research experience. Students majoring in GEOL will earn a BS degree in Geology. GEOL students train for careers in the geosciences including environmental applications, mineral and petroleum exploration, governmental agencies, museums, academic fields, teaching, and entrepreneurship.

Photo - GEOL, UG, Geology BS

GEOL students may take electives in four focus areas that include:

  • Paleontology:  study of ancient organisms and environments. Graduates in this focus area will often attend graduate school to develop research and teaching careers, but career opportunities also are available in museums, governmental agencies, or with consulting firms that survey and preserve fossil resources.
  • Environmental Geology: protection and management of natural resources. Graduates may work for environmental firms, or could do environmental work for petroleum and mineral companies. Many government agencies also hire graduates with these skills.
  • Resource Geology: exploration and development of petroleum and minerals. Graduates may explore for oil or mineral resources, assist with extracting these resources, or develop new types of resources such as coal bed methane or oil shales.
  • Geospatial Technology: managing spatial data using GIS, GPS, and remote sensing. Graduates may work in traditional petroleum, mining, or environmental companies, for government agencies, or within the geospatial industry that provides and manages maps and imagery to the world.

Undergraduate degree programs

Find forms and checklists for undergraduate programs here.

Geology: Program Educational Objectives

Outcome 1.  Basic scientific and mathematical competence

  1. Can apply mathematics to solve problems in the geosciences.
  2. Can understand and apply basic principles of chemistry, physics, and biology to geologic issues.
  3. Understands the basic principles of earth science, such as physical geology, mineralogy, sedimentation, petrology, invertebrate paleontology, geophysics,  economic geology, and structural geology.

Outcome 2.  Field and laboratory technical competence

  1. Can identify and classify basic geologic materials, including minerals, rocks, structures, and landforms, and knows their basic material properties.
  2. Can collect and describe samples of geologic materials in support of field investigations.
  3. Can create basic types of geologic maps with standard geology symbols,  using standard field measurement techniques and equipment.
  4. Can perform basic types of geologic analysis, such as stratigraphic correlation, well-logging, map construction, geophysical studies, fossil identification, and cross section construction.

Outcome 3.  Technical and computer competence

  1. Demonstrates competence in basic computer tools including word processors, spreadsheets, and Internet utilization.
  2. Can create and analyze map data on computers using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs.

Outcome 4.  Critical thinking and research skills

  1. Can critically read technical literature.
  2. Can define a scientific or technical problem and design a strategy to address it.
  3. Can carry out a science or technical project and write up the results.

Outcome 5.  Excellence in technical communication

  1. Can communicate effectively in written form through words, graphs, and tables.
  2. Can communicate orally.
  3. Can create scientific/technical communication documents such as reports and proposals using the correct formats.

Outcome 6.  Ability to work effectively on a professional team

  1. Can communicate effectively with team members through personal, telephone, and electronic means.
  2. Can work responsibly as a member of a team.

Outcome 7.  Broad general knowledge and role of geology in society

  1. Has the broad education necessary to understand the impact of earth science and technology in a global and societal context.
  2. Knowledge of contemporary issues.

Outcome 8.  An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility

  1. Carries out responsibilities in a professional and ethical manner.
  2. Understands basic scientific principles and practices.

Geology Program Objectives

The primary mission of the geology program is to provide a quality educational experience that prepares men and women to enter rewarding careers in geology and related fields.  Within a few years following graduation, our graduates should be able to achieve the following career and life skills within a few years of graduation.

  • To master the basic knowledge and skills demanded for entry level competence in typical careers in geology and earth science.
  • To apply basic scientific and technical knowledge to specific tasks and problems.
  • To cultivate, through a commitment to life-long learning, the specific scientific and technical skills that will allow them effectively to serve their employers and to enhance their own career development.
  • To develop increased capacity in the skills of critical thinking, problem definition, and problem solving.
  • To communicate effectively and professionally through oral, written, and graphical means.
  • To integrate effectively into the workplace structure and individual and team project activities.