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Undergraduate: Geology

  • Program Overview

    Geology (GEO)

    The Department of Geosciences offers two undergraduate programs: the Geology major, leading to a Bachelor of Science degree, and the Earth and Space Sciences major, leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree. Minimum course requirements for the B.S. program in Geology are detailed below. For requirements for the B.A. program in Earth and Space Sciences, see the entry in the alphabetical listing of Approved Majors, Minors, and Programs. Upon declaring the major, the student is assigned a faculty advisor who will assist in the selection of a course sequence leading to the degree. Students should consult frequently with their faculty advisors regarding their progress and regarding appropriate science courses. Because the position of the scientist in society is responsible and complex, the student is cautioned to pay careful attention to general education in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.


    The science of geology is focused on evaluation of the physical and chemical characteristics of the Earth and other planets and the processes that have controlled evolution of these characteristics over time. The B.S. program has built-in flexibility to allow majors to choose from a variety of electives in environmental geoscience, planetary geoscience, geophysics and geochemistry.  This allows students to develop a major that best reflects their interests and career goals,  by allowing students to build upon the core curriculum by selecting 19 credits of upper-level science/mathematics electives from both within and outside of the Geosciences. The major aims to provide the student with maximum preparation to carry out graduate and professional work in each of these fields. Students graduating with a B.S. in Geology typically go on to graduate school or obtain professional employment with environmental consulting firms or various government organizations.

  • Degrees and Requirements

    Requirements for the Major and Minor in Geology

    Requirements for the Major

    The major in Geology leads to the Bach­elor of Science degree. All courses offered for the major must be passed with a letter grade of C or higher.

    Completion of the major requires 63 to 66 credits.

    A. Required departmental courses

    • GEO 103 The Earth Through Time
    • GEO 113 Historical Geology Laboratory
    • GEO 102 The Earth and GEO 112 Physical Geology Laboratory
    • GEO 306/GEO 366 Mineralogy and Mineralogy Laboratory
    • GEO 309/GEO 369 Structural Geology and Structural Geology Laboratory
    • GEO 403/463 Sedimentation and Stratigraphy and Sedimentation and Stratigraphy Laboratory
    • GEO 407/467 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology and Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology

    B. Required courses in the related sciences

    • AMS 151, AMS 161 Applied Calculus I,II or MAT 131, MAT 132 Calculus I, II (See Note 1
      below). If students do not place into AMS 151 or MAT 125 or 131 on the basis of the math
      placement examination, MAT 123 is a required course for the major.
    • CHE 131/CHE133, General Chemistry I and Laboratory, CHE 132 General Chemistry II
    • PHY 131/PHY 133, Classical Physics I and Laboratory, or PHY 141/PHY 133, Honors Physics
      I and lab; PHY 132 Classical Physics II or PHY 142 Honors Physics II (Note: PHY 125/126/127 Classical Physics A/B/C and lab PHY 133 may be substituted for the PHY 131/132 with lab PHY 133 sequence)
    • Either CHE 134 General Chemistry II Laboratory or PHY 134 Classical Physics II Laboratory

    C. Related science electives

    A set of upper-division science courses, totaling 19 credits, that has been approved by the department.

    D. Upper-Division Writing and Speaking Requirement

    Before graduation all students in the Geology major must register concurrently for the 1-credit GEO 496 and GEO497 courses along with a 300-400 level GEO course. Completion of GEO 496 with an S and GEO 497 with a C or higher will satisfy the writing and speaking requirements.


    1. The following alternate beginning calculus sequences may be substituted for AMS 151, AMS 161 or MAT 131, MAT 132 in major requirements or prerequisites: MAT 125 (or MAT 130/MAT 125), MAT 126, MAT 127 or MAT 141, MAT 142 or MAT 171. Equivalency for MAT courses achieved by earning the appropriate score on a University mathematics placement examination will be accepted as fulfillment of the requirement without the necessity of substituting other credits. For detailed information about the various calculus sequences, see "Beginning Mathematics Courses" under the entry for the Department of Mathematics and the individual course descriptions.

    Suggested Clusters of Science Electives:

    Students with interest in Geology:

    • GEO 310 Introduction to Geophysics
    • GEO 315 Groundwater Hydrology
    • GEO 320 Glacial Geology
    • GEO 405 Field Camp
    • GEO 487 Senior Research in Geology

    Students with interest in Environmental Geoscience:

    • GEO 305 Field Geology
    • GEO 315 Groundwater Hydrology
    • GEO 316 Geochemistry of Surficial Processes
    • GEO 347 Remote Sensing
    • GEO 420 Environmental Analysis and Remote Sensing/GIS or GSS 313/314 GIS Design and Application I and GIS Laboratory
    • MAR 340 Environmental Problems

    Students with interest in Geological Oceanography:

    • GEO 310 Introduction to Geophysics
    • GEO 316 Geochemistry of Surficial Processes
    • GEO 318 Engineering Geology and Coastal Processes
    • GEO 353 Marine Ecology
    • MAR 304 Waves, Tides, and Beaches

    Honors Program in Geology

    Students in the Geology major who have maintained a grade point average of 3.50 in natural sciences and mathematics through the junior year may become candidates for Departmental honors in Geology by applying to the Department.

    In addition to the academic program, the student must complete an honors thesis, which is evaluated by a committee composed of the student's advisor and two other science faculty members including one from outside of the Department. If the honors program is completed with distinction and the student has maintained a minimum 3.50 grade point average in all coursework in natural sciences and mathematics, honors are conferred.

    Requirements for the Minor

    For students majoring in other areas who are interested in obtaining a fundamental understanding of the earth sciences, a minor concentration in Geology is available. The Geology minor acquaints students with earth materials, the origin and evolution of life on earth, and physical processes that have shaped the earth through time.

    All courses offered for the minor must be passed with a letter grade of C or higher. Completion of the minor requires 20 credits.


    • GEO 103 and GEO 113
    • GEO 102 The Earth and GEO 112 Physical Geology Laboratory
    • Twelve additional credits from among GEO courses numbered 300 or higher. Courses must be approved by a departmental advisor.
  • Sequence

    Sample Course Sequence for the Major in Geology

    A course planning guide for this major may be found hereThe major course planning guides are not part of the official Undergraduate Bulletin, and are only updated periodically for use as an advising tool. The Undergraduate Bulletin supersedes any errors or omissions in the major course planning guides.  


    FALL Credits
    First Year Seminar 101 1
    WRT 101 3
    CHE 131/133 5
    GEO 102 3
    GEO 112 1
     Total 16
    SPRING Credits
    First Year Seminar 102 1
    WRT 102 3
    CHE 132/134 4(5)
    AMS 151 3
    GEO 103 3
    GEO 113 1
     Total 15(16)

    FALL Credits
    AMS 161 3
    PHY 131/PHY 133 4
     SBC 3
     SBC 3
     SBC  3
     Total 17
    SPRING Credits
    GEO 306/366 4
    PHY 132/PHY 134 3(4)
    SBC  3
    SBC  3
    SBC  3
     Total 16(17)

    FALL Credits
    GEO 407/467 4
    Upper-division science elective 3
    SBC   3
    SBC   3
    SBC   3
     Total 16
    SPRING Credits
    GEO 309/369 4
    GEO 403/463 4
    Upper-division Science Elective 3
    Upper-division Science Elective 3
     Total 14

    FALL Credits
    GEO 310  3
    GEO 496 1
    GEO 497 1
    Upper-division Science Elective   3
    Upper-division SBC  3
    Upper-division SBC  3
    Upper-division SBC  3
     Total 17
    SPRING Credits
    Upper-division Science Elective 3
    Upper-division Science Elective  3
    Upper-division Science Elective   3 
    Upper-division SBC  3
    SBC  3
     Total 15


  • Contact

    Geology (GEO)

    Major and Minor in Geology

    Department of Geosciences, College of Arts and Sciences

    ChairBrian Phillips

    Director of Undergraduate Studies: Hanna Nekvasil

    Major Advisor: Gregory Henkes


    Office: 255 Earth and Space Sciences 

    Phone: (631) 632-8200


    Minors of particular interest to students majoring in Geology and Earth and Space Sciences: Environmental Studies (ENS), Marine Sciences (MAR), engineering minors






  • Courses