The Geology major constitutes a broad curriculum that allows students to obtain a sound academic and practical basis for professional geosciences careers. Common careers include private and public sector water, energy, mineral and other natural resources, geological hazards, regulatory management, and education. The major also provides a solid background for subsequent graduate training in specialized fields that include economic geology, hydrology, geophysics, environmental geology, resources management, public policy, and many other areas.

The Geology curriculum provides a technical background within the broader framework of a liberal education. Emphasis is placed on integrating field studies in the Rocky Mountains and elsewhere with on-campus classroom and laboratory work. In addition to a solid core in geology, students complete substantial course work in math, the physical sciences, communications, and the liberal arts that lead to effective quantitative, decision making, and communications skills. Four Geology major concentrations are offered: Environmental Geology, Geology, Geophysics, and Hydrogeology.

Learning Outcomes

Students will demonstrate:

  • A solid foundation in the physical sciences and broad understanding of geological processes
  • Application of scientific reasoning skills to data analysis and problem solving in the geosciences, both individually and in teams
  • An awareness of sociopolitical and economic factors and ethical practices and standards that apply to careers in geosciences

Potential Occupations

A variety of opportunities exist for Geology graduates in the private and public sectors. Energy companies, industry service companies, mining companies, power companies, computer software companies, and diverse entrepreneurs all hire geologists for exploration, development, production, communications, and research. Federal government agencies use geologists for  mapping, oil-gas-coal-groundwater-geothermal resource evaluation, geochemical and resource-related water studies, leasing and conservation studies, resource restoration and rehabilitation programs, hazards mitigation, regulatory activities, and research. State and local governments typically hire geologists for geologic and soils mapping, natural resource and hazards evaluation and mitigation, public information, consulting, and communications. Environmental, engineering, and groundwater firms employ geologists for mapping, restoration and rehabilitation planning, monitoring and evaluation of geologic hazards, and site evaluation for feasibility and implementation of construction projects, water management and reuse evaluation, groundwater pollution assessment and remediation, and contaminant prevention. Schools, colleges, universities, national laboratories, and private research firms employ geoscientists in a variety of teaching, research, and administrative positions.

Participation in internships, volunteer activities, or cooperative education and public outreach is highly recommended and supported by the department to enhance practical training and development. Graduates who wish to go on to advanced studies acquire a strong disciplinary base to continue in a number of geoscience disciplines and related fields of study, including seismology, hydrology, meteorology, oceanography, and the space sciences. Geoscientists with advanced degrees can attain more responsible professional positions with the possibility of rising to top professional levels of management. Example career possibilities include, but are not limited to: educator, professor, environmental or geological consultant, exploration geologist, petroleum geologist, environmental geologist, geophysicist, hydrologist, mining geologist, oceanographer, production geologist, researcher, resource evaluator, geobiologist, or seismologist. With additional training, geosciences graduates may also pursue careers in business, law, medicine, public policy, and other diverse professional fields. By obtaining teaching certification, graduates can become educators in Earth sciences and related subjects in primary and secondary schools.