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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. The field of Geology analyzes the processes that have shaped the Earth, using rocks and minerals to reconstruct that history.

Geology students at Mines can 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. Students also can work at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, model earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, reconstruct the early history of the solar system through experimental petrology, and excavate and prepare fossils ranging from dinosaurs to saber-tooth cats.

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 investigating geologic hazards like earthquakes and volcanoes. The Geology program at South Dakota 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 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
• Explorations in Geology
• Chemistry
• Composition
• Mathematics

Course Curriculum

Link to Catalog

Internships and Co-ops

On average, 79 percent of South Dakota Mines students have applicable work experience when they graduate, thanks to internships and co-ops. For these co-ops and internships, students receive an average salary of $19.70/hour. Geology students have worked for mining and petroleum companies, and for Federal agencies (e.g., Badlands National Park) in various locations throughout the country. 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 2018-19 South Dakota Mines Geology graduates was $57,333. The job placement rate of 2018-19 South Dakota Mines geology graduates was 86 percent.


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


South Dakota 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

Geology faculty and students conduct research on a wide variety of topics. For more information please visit our research page (link to )




SD Mines is the #1 Engineering School in the country for return on investment!

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