Geology BS

Contact Information

Dr. Robert Hall, Interim Department Head 
Department of Geology and Geological Engineering
Mineral Industries 303
(605) 394-2461

Geology Faculty

Professors Duke, Hall, Masterlark, Pagnac and Uzunlar; Associate Professor Ustunisik; Assistant Professors Keenan, Waldien, and Ward; Instructor Karnes; Professors Emeritus Bjork, J. Fox, Martin, and Paterson.

Geological Engineering Faculty

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

Adjunct Faculty

M. Anderson, Benton, and Valder.


Research Scientist Nielsen; Coordinator and Instructor Pellowski; Museum of Geology Associate Director and Instructor N. Fox; Museum of Geology Assistant Director and Instructor Johnson; Museum Preparator and Lab Manager Wright.

Geology Program 

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, or examine the history of Earth and life on Earth through the study of fossils (paleontology) and Earth materials. The geology 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 one or more of six focus areas including Energy and Mineral Resources, Environmental Geology, Geophysics, Geospatial Technology, Paleontology, and Solid Earth and Tectonics.

Complete information on requirements is given at Geology, BS

The Geology (BS) is accredited by the Applied Natural Sciences Accreditation Commission of ABET,, under the General Criteria and the Program Criteria for Geology, Geological Science and Similarly Named Programs.

    Complete information on educational objectives and student outcomes is given at Geology Outcomes and Assessment.

    Choosing a career focus

    Many different career opportunities are open to students in the geosciences. Geology majors at South Dakota Mines complete a core of geology courses to solidly prepare them for careers in the geosciences. Additional program (courses with a GEOL or GEOE prefix) and advisor-approved electives (from courses available across campus, including GEOL and GEOE courses) can be chosen to focus on one or more career paths to best prepare students for employment or graduate school. Professional placement for geology graduates has averaged 88% over the last 5 years.

    GEOL focus areas include:

    Energy and Mineral Resources: exploration for and development of energy and mineral resources. Graduates may work for mining or petroleum/geothermal companies to safely and responsible produce critical natural resources.

    Environmental Geology: protection and management of natural resources. Graduates may work for environmental firms or provide environmental oversight for energy and mineral resource companies. Many government agencies also hire graduates in this area.

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

    Geospatial Technology: managing spatial data using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and remote sensing. Graduates may work for traditional employers of geoscientists such as 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 as natural resources.

    Solid Earth and Tectonics: encompass the study of Earth’s crust, mantle, and core as well as other planetary bodies. Topics and skills include 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 geology major culminates in two capstone experiences. Field Geology (GEOL 410) employs skills and knowledge acquired and developed in earlier course work in a field setting to provide the experiences and training for students to become competent and confident geologists. The Senior Research sequence (GEOL 464, GEOL 465) is a capstone experience focusing on development and completion of a research project under direction of a faculty research advisor. Students develop professional skills in project planning and organization, professional ethics, - scientific research, time management, and oral/written/graphics communication.

    Students are strongly encouraged to participate in student chapters and organizations within GGE as well as seek student membership in professional societies. 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, paleontology, or geological engineering. The MS in Geology and Geological Engineering is offered as both non-thesis (coursework only) and thesis tracks (requiring  original research and defense of a thesis) The MS in Paleontology is available as a thesis MS only.

    The M.S. programs in geology and geological engineering and in paleontology both offer an accelerated M.S. track open to students enrolled in the B.S. in Geology or B.S. in Geological Engineering at South Dakota Mines.

    The PhD program in Geology, Geological Engineering, and Mining Engineering offers specializations in each of these areas, with students specializing in paleontology following the geology specialization.

    Additional information can be found in the GGE graduate programs page.

    See course catalog for more information: Loading...