Geology BS

Contact Information

Dr. Laurie Anderson, Department Head 
Department of Geology and Geological Engineering
Mineral Industries 303
(605) 394-2461

Geology Faculty

Professors L. Anderson, Duke, Masterlark, and Uzunlar; Associate Professor Pagnac; Assistant
Professors Baran, Keenan, Ustunisik, and Ward; Lecturer C. Price; Professors Emeritus J. Fox, Martin, and Paterson.

Geological Engineering Faculty

Professor Stetler; Associate Professors Katzenstein and Sawyer; Assistant Professor Li; Professors Emeritus
Davis and Rahn.

Adjunct Faculty

M. Anderson, Benton, and Valder.


Research Scientists Nielsen and Roggenthen; Coordinator and
Instructor Pellowski; Museum of Geology Associate Director and Instructor N. Fox; Museum Preparator and
Instructor Johnson.

Geology Program (includes Paleontology)

Geologists study processes shaping Earth today and through its history to learn how it formed, how it has developed over time, and how life has evolved through time in response to tectonic and climatic changes. In their careers, geologists may seek to understand the formation of natural resources like minerals or petroleum, protect water and soil resources, or mitigate against geologic hazards like earthquakes and volcanoes. The GEOL program at South Dakota Mines takes advantage of the proximity of the Black Hills through a rigorous field and lab-based education that provides students a unique blend of hands-on experiences with strong theoretical foundations. Students can take electives in six focus areas including Energy and Mineral Resources, Environmental Geology, Geomathematics, Geospatial Technology, Paleontology, and Solid Earth and Tectonics.

Complete information on requirements is given at Geology, BS

Student Outcomes for Geology are:

Student outcomes describe what students are expected to know or be able to do by the time of graduation from the geology program. These outcomes relate to the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that students acquire as they progress through the program.

  1. An ability to identify, formulate, and solve broadly defined technical or scientific problems by applying knowledge of mathematics and science and/or technical topics to areas relevant to the discipline.
  2. An ability to formulate or design a system, process, procedure or program to meet desired needs.
  3. An ability to develop and conduct experiments or test hypotheses, analyze and interpret data and use scientific judgment to draw conclusions.
  4. An ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences.
  5. An ability to understand ethical and professional responsibilities and the impact of technical and/or scientific solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts.
  6. An ability to function effectively on teams that establish goals, plan tasks, meet deadlines, and analyze risk and uncertainty.
Complete information on program outcomes is given at Geology Outcomes and Assessment.

Choosing a career focus

Many different career opportunities are open to students in the geosciences. Students complete a core of geology courses to solidly prepare them for careers in the geosciences. Additional electives are chosen to focus on a career path and best prepare the student for employment or graduate school. Students may focus in one of six career paths or select electives from two or more career paths, depending on their interests.

GEOL focus areas include:

Energy and Mineral Resources: exploration and development of energy and mineral resources. Graduate may explore for and assist with extracting these 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.

Geophysics: applications of physics, mathematics, statistics, remote sensing, and numerical methods to image the Earth at cm to Mm scales and investigate dynamic geologic processes. Prepares students for careers in environmental consulting, hazard mitigation, resources, non-profit, law, and graduate studies. Interdisciplinary skills that merge geophysics with other related fields to address basic research and societal problems are in high demand for employment in academic, industrial, and government research sectors.

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.

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.

Solid Earth and Tectonics: encompass the study of Earth’s crust, mantle, and core as well as other planetary bodies. This includes the use of seismology, mantle dynamics, paleomagnetism, tectonics, volcanology, petrology, mineralogy, and geomorphology to understand the formation and evolution of Earth processes. Graduates in this focus area are well prepared to pursue graduate level research at academic institutions or begin careers within private industry and government entities.

Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisor in selecting a career path and electives.

Professional Development

The senior year culminates in an individual research project (GEOL 464, GEOL 465) in which the student practices the professional accomplishments of project planning, organization, scientific research, time management, and oral/written communication.

Students are strongly encouraged to participate in professional societies active on campus, including the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Student Chapter, Tech Geological Association, the Society of Economic Geologists, the Association of Women Geoscientists, and the Paleontology Club. The department also hosts a chapter of Sigma Gamma Epsilon, the geoscience honor society. Students interested in paleontology and mineralogy may have opportunities to volunteer or work on collections, archives, educational outreach and/or research projects through the Museum of Geology. Internships in industry and government are commonly available and highly recommended.

In addition to careers in geoscience, the BS in Geology can provide a pathway to professional careers in teaching, law, or medicine.  For careers in science education, students should consult teaching programs at other colleges for auxiliary education courses that would be needed for teacher certification.

Advanced Degrees

Graduate programs, both master’s and doctoral, are available and involve additional specialization in geology or paleontology and incorporate original research leading to the completion and defense of a thesis or dissertation. Additional information can be found in the GGE graduate programs page of the catalog.  Completion of graduate degrees leads to higher-level professional employment including college-level instruction.

See Course Catalog for Courses, Recommended Electives and Curriculum