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What is a geologist?

Geologists discover natural resources, protect water quality and the environment, mitigate natural hazards, and explain how life and Earth evolved. They work in resource companies, consulting firms, museums, and labs.  At South Dakota Mines, we offer an undergraduate (BS) degree in Geology, the only Masters Degree in the nation in Paleontology, a MS in Geology and Geological Engineering, and a PhD in Geology, Geological Engineering, and Mining Engineering.

The department uses the Museum of Geology's 500,000 specimens, the Paleontology Research Laboratory, and the Black Hills and Badlands for training and field experiences. Equidistant from three of the largest energy basins in the US – Williston, Powder River, and Denver – South Dakota Mines offers an unparalleled natural lab. Students also work at Sanford Lab and research earthquakes and eruptions in real time.

Geology Graduates go on to:  

  • Neset Consulting
  • Baker Hughes
  • Freeport-McMoRan 
  • Schlumberger
  • Coeur Mining
  • Badlands National Park 
  • US Forest Service
  • ExxonMobil 
  • Rare Element Resources

Internships & Co-ops

76% of South Dakota Mines students gain real-world experience through internships, co-ops, and research at an average salary of over $17 an hour at 200 employers in 30 states. 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.

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Global Experiences

The geology department runs one of the largest summer field camp stations in the United States with opportunities to study in the Black Hills, Montana, western California, Arizona, Utah, Death Valley, Hawaii, Turkey, Nepal, Iceland, the Bahamas, the Andes of Ecuador, Spain, Morocco, France, and New Zealand.


  • mineral exploration
  • petroleum exploration, production, and service
  • engineering consulting
  • water resource and environmental firms
  • paleontology resource management
  • museums
  • research labs
  • hazard investigation
  • geospatial technology

Additional career information can be found at these sites:

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Among the Geology/Paleontology research facilities at South Dakota Mines are the James E. Martin Paleontology Research Laboratory and the Museum of Geology: