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Geology Degree

Program Offerings

• Bachelor of science degree in Geology
• Accelerated master’s in Geology and Geological Engineering (earn your bachelor’s and master’s in as little as five years)
• Master of science degrees in Paleontology and Geology and Geological Engineering
• Doctor of philosophy degree in Geology, Geological Engineering and Mining Engineering
• Minors: Geology, Geospatial Technology and Petroleum Systems
• Certificates: Engineering Management and Leadership, Geospatial Technology, Global Engineering, HBX CORe Credential of Readiness for Business and Six Sigma Greenbelt.

What is Geology?

Geology is the study of the structure, evolution and fluctuation of the Earth and its natural mineral and energy resources. The field of Geology analyzes the processes that have shaped the Earth, using rocks and minerals to dissect that history.

Geology students at Mines use the Museum of Geology’s 500,000 specimens, the Paleontology Research Laboratory and the Black Hills and Badlands for training and field experience. Equidistant from three of the largest energy basins in the US – Williston, Powder River and Denver – Mines offers an unparalleled natural lab. Students also work at the Sanford Underground Research Facility and research earthquakes and eruptions in real time.

What does a geologist do?

Geologists study the processes shaping the earth today and throughout its history. Geologists study how the earth was formed, how it has developed and how life has evolved in reaction to tectonic and climatic changes. In their careers, geologists may seek to understand the formation of natural resources such as minerals or petroleum, protect water and soil resources, or mitigate against geologic hazards like earthquakes and volcanoes. The Geology program at SD Mines takes advantage of the proximity of the Black Hills through a rigorous field-based education that provides students a unique blend of hands-on experiences with strong theoretical foundations.

Some duties a professional geologist might do on the job include:
• Plan and carry out field studies, in which they visit locations to collect samples and conduct surveys
• Analyze aerial photographs, well logs (detailed records of geologic formations found during drilling), rock samples and other data sources to locate deposits of natural resources and estimate their size
• Conduct laboratory tests on samples collected in the field
• Make geologic maps and charts
• Prepare written scientific reports
• Present their findings to clients, colleagues and other interested parties

First-Year Courses

• Physical Geology
• Explorations in Geology
• Chemistry
• Composition
• Calculus

Course Curriculum

Link to Catalog

Internships and Co-ops

77% of Mines students gain real-world experience through paid internships, co-ops, and research. Students have traveled to Nicaraguan volcanoes, coastal biomes in Florida and the Bahamas, Michigan mines and a mile below the earth at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. They've worked with faculty who've discovered new dinosaurs and conducted fieldwork spanning continents, from Turkey to Death Valley.

Career Outlook

The average starting salary for Mines Geology graduates is $49,422.


Geology offers students a wide range of career choices, including:
• Mineral exploration
• Petroleum exploration
• Engineering consulting
• Water resource and environmental firms
• Paleontology resource management
• Museum management
• Research lab employees
• Hazard investigator
• Geospatial technology
• Geochemist
• Oceanographer
• Seismologist


SD Mines geology graduates work for a variety of employers, including:
U.S. Forest Service
Freeport McMoRan
Baker Hughes
Coeur Mining
Badlands National Park
Exxon Mobil
Rare Element Resources

Geology Research

Research areas include:
• Energy Resources
• Hydrocarbon resource evaluations
• Reservoir rock characterization
• Geothermal resources
• Water management



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