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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)
• Accelerated master’s in Paleontology (earn your bachelor’s and master’s in as little as five years)
• Master of science degree in Paleontology
• Master of science degree in Geology and Geological Engineering
• Doctor of philosophy degree in Geology, Geological Engineering, and Mining Engineering
• Minors: Geology, Geospatial Technology, and Petroleum Systems
• Certificates: Geospatial Technology (undergraduate and graduate) and Petroleum Systems.

What is Geology?

Geology is the study of the structure, evolution, and history of Earth and its mineral and energy resources.

Geology students at South Dakota Mines take advantage of the rich geological and paleontological resources of the region. They also can access the extensive fossil and mineral collections of the Museum of Geology, located on campus. Students have an opportunity to work at the Sanford Underground Research Facility; model earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and other geologic hazards; reconstruct the early history of the solar system through experimental petrology; study environmental issues from geothermal energy to water protection; and excavate and prepare fossils ranging from dinosaurs to saber-tooth cats.

What does a geologist do?

Geologists analyze the processes that have shaped the Earth, using rocks, minerals, and fossils to reconstruct that history. They study how the Earth was formed, how it has developed, and how life has evolved in reaction to tectonic and climatic changes.

The geology program at South Dakota Mines takes advantage of the proximity of the Black Hills through a rigorous field and laboratory-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 to collect data and samples
• Use a variety of data sources, such as satellite images, geophysical data, rock samples, and geologic maps to locate natural resources
• Conduct laboratory tests on samples collected in the field
• Make geologic maps and cross-sections
• Prepare written scientific reports
• Present their findings to clients, colleagues, and the public

First-Year Courses

• Physical Geology
• Introduction to Geology, Geological Engineering, and Mining Engineering
• Chemistry
• English Composition
• Mathematics

Course Curriculum

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Internships and Co-ops

At South Dakota Mines, 77% of students land internships and co-ops in their field, earning an average salary of $20.00/hour. Geology students have interned with such companies and agencies as:
• Wyoming Dinosaur Center
• South Dakota Department of Transportation
• Coeur in Alaska
• OceanaGold Haile Gold Mines
• Rapid City GIS Department
• Badlands National Park

They've worked with faculty who've discovered new fossil species and conducted fieldwork spanning continents, from Turkey to Death Valley.

Career Outlook

The average starting salary for 2019-20 South Dakota Mines geology graduates was $56,500. The job placement rate was 86%.


With a geology degree from South Dakota Mines, you have your choice of a wide range of careers, including:

• Mineral exploration
• Petroleum exploration
• Water resource and environmental firms
• Paleontology resource management
• Museum management
• Research lab employees
• Geospatial technology
• Geochemist
• Geophysicist
• Graduate education in these areas


South Dakota Mines geology graduates work for a variety of employers, including:

• American Engineering & Testing
• Apex Systems
• Barrick Gold
• The Mammoth Site
• US Geological Survey
• Freeport McMoRan
• Coeur Mining
• Bureau of Indian Affairs
• Haliburton
• Braun Intertec

Geology Research

At South Dakota Mines, you won’t have to wait for graduate school to engage in research. Geology faculty and students from undergrad to graduate level conduct research on a wide variety of topics. For more information please visit our research page.




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