Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science | College of Arts and Science

What is Geology?

Geology is the science of the earth's composition, structure, origin, and evolution. It includes subjects as diverse as the origin of rocks and minerals, the migration of pollutants in ground water, and the evolution of life as recorded in fossils.

Geologists and geoscientists work in a variety of areas. In today's society, with concerns about the scarcity and conservation of natural resources, global climate change, and environmental pollution, many geologists are involved in devising sustainable approaches to energy development, to investigating and mitigating pollution, and to understanding and mitigating the effects of hazards, such as flooding, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and landslides.

Some geoscientists study the materials and fundamental processes of the solid earth while others investigate the effects of human influence upon the earth and provide the basic information needed to solve problems and establish rational policies for resource management, environmental protection, and public health, safety, and welfare. Geologists also study the history of the earth, including the fossilized rock record from which we can learn much about previous life forms, climates, and ecosystems. This knowledge is one of the fundamental tools for interpreting the magnitude and impact of modern day and future climate change.

What are the features of Miami’s program?

Integration of teaching and research

The geology faculty is an extremely active group of scientists and educators. Our faculty teach courses at all levels of the curriculum, which means that students interact with active scholars in virtually all geology courses. All faculty members and graduate students are working on research projects, many of which regularly involve undergraduate students. These independent study research opportunities are often the most rewarding aspects of an undergraduate's career because they provide hands-on experience applying principles and concepts learned in coursework to outstanding questions in the geological sciences.

The National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates Program, the Miami University Summer Scholars Program, the Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, and the Department of Geology & Environmental Earth Science all provide funding that allows undergraduates to undertake independent research during the summer and school year. Many students publish their work in leading journals and participate in conference presentations.

Field-based learning opportunities

All geology majors enroll in a summer field course, usually taken between the junior and senior year, at the department's field station in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, next to one of the nation's most unspoiled and rugged wilderness areas. In addition, the Department of Geology & Environmental Earth Science annually offers several three- to five-week domestic and international field courses during the summer. Shorter field courses (7 to 10 days) are often taught over the winter and spring break periods, affording undergraduate and graduate students ample opportunity to participate. Many of the upper-level geology courses contain field components that take advantage of key aspects of the local and regional geology via multi-hour to multi-day field projects.

Top-notch facilities

The Department of Geology & Environmental Earth Science houses modern research and teaching laboratories and field equipment for the investigation of a variety of earth materials and processes. These facilities support material preparation and state-of-the-art instrumental analysis focusing in the areas of isotope and elemental geochemistry, mineral surface geochemistry, crystallography, geomicrobiology, hydrogeology, environmental geochemistry, and geophysics. This instrumentation is further supported by a modern departmental computer laboratory and numerous specialized high-end computer facilities.

What are the special admission requirements, if any?

There are no additional admission requirements for this program.

What courses would I take?

The Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) degree in Geology offers students a strong curriculum in traditional geology that prepares them for further graduate work in the geosciences as well as careers in the environmental, petroleum, and mining industries, government, and education. This degree requires a core of classes comprising mineralogy, earth history, sedimentology and stratigraphy, structural geology, igneous and metamorphic petrology, and field geology, which is a capstone experience that brings together the A.B. and B.S. Geology students is also required. The A.B. in Geology requires one course each in chemistry, physics, and mathematics or statistics. Electives allow students to explore many different areas including the solid earth (physical and chemical processes affecting the earth and the evolution of the earth's core, mantle, and crust) and/or environmental geology (the interaction between human beings, ecosystems, and various earth systems at or near the earth's surface).

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Geology is offered to those students who are particularly interested in graduate work and a stronger natural science foundation. The B.S. requires all the same courses as the A.B., with the addition of an extra departmental elective and additional courses in chemistry, physics, and mathematics or statistics. The B.S. also requires a research experience in which students partner with faculty members and graduate students to investigate a question of individual interest. In the past, students have taken advantage of such interactions to conduct publishable research and to travel with professors to their field areas in various parts of the world.

What can I do with this major?

Geologists and other earth scientists are typically employed in environmental consulting and planning firms, energy and mineral resource companies, materials analysis firms, or government agencies, such as the National Park Service, environmental protection agencies, and health departments. They are also employed in schools and universities, a wide array of both small and large corporations, legal practices, non-profit organizations, and even the news media. Because geoscientists are continually urged to recognize and address the world around them, they acquire and hone skills that are highly valued in many disciplines.

About 50 percent of our graduates obtain immediate employment in earth science disciplines. A bachelor's degree can provide the background to obtain support or assistant positions as a geologist in government agencies or consulting companies as well as the laboratory or field programs of mining and petroleum corporations and state or national geological surveys.

In recent years, about 30 percent of our graduates have furthered their education in graduate programs. A master's degree, which is the terminal degree of most practicing geologists, provides a wide opportunity for professional achievement and advancement. A Ph.D. in Geology, Earth Science, or Environmental Science can lead to an academic career of teaching and research. Geology majors may continue in the sciences after obtaining their undergraduate degree, but they may also go into law, business, or education. Environmental law and earth science education have become increasingly active areas in recent years.

Who can I contact for more information?

Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science
118 Shideler Hall
Oxford, OH 45056