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Information for Geology Majors

Overview of the Major:

Geology is a science concerned with the Earth -- its relationship to the solar system, its origin and developmental history, its structure and composition, its dynamic processes, and its evolution. Geology also relates to human endeavors and needs, including the use of natural resources, the preservation of the environment, global change, and the mitigation of geologic hazards. Geology draws its data from firsthand field observations and laboratory analyses of minerals, sediments, rocks, fossils, natural fluids and gases, and landforms. Interpretation of the Earth's physical, chemical, and biological systems and their evolution requires that scientists who study the Earth interact with mathematicians, physicists, astronomers, chemists, geographers, climatologists, biologists, and engineers.

The University of Colorado at Boulder is ideally suited to the study of geological sciences. At the junction of the high plains and the Rocky Mountains, the Boulder area represents a natural outdoor laboratory where you can study geological features of all ages in diverse settings, and observe Earth processes firsthand. Field work in the Rocky Mountain region is an essential part of instruction and research.

The major in geology offers two options, each leading to a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree. The Geology Option is flexible and offers in-depth training in geology and the opportunity to explore broader aspects of the geosciences (eg. water, surface processes, geobiology). This option requires a broad scientific and analytical background based on chemistry, physics, and mathematics. The Geophysics Option is especially designed for those students who wish to pursue a career focusing on the materials, structure, and processes of the Earth's interior, as well as the deformation and dynamics of the Earth. Students who are uncertain as to which option best suits his/her needs should consult a Department advisor. All options provide a strong preparation for graduate study.

Students who would like to acquire a basic knowledge of geology while majoring in some other field should consider a minor program in Geological Sciences.

Geology Major Requirements:   Download a copy here

Requirements for Geology Option (Track 1):

Ancillary coursework:
1. Chemistry 1 and 2 (CHEM1113, 1114, 1133, 1134) – 10 credits
2. Calculus 1 and 2(MATH1300 or APPM1350 AND MATH 2300 or APPM1360) – 10 credits
3. Physics 1 and 2 plus Experimental Physics lab class (PHYS 1110, 1120, 1140) – 9 credits
Total required ancillary credits: 29 credits

Tier 1 Trunk Course:
1. Students take one of the following: GEOL1010 OR GEOL2100 – 3 credits
2. GEOL1030 – 1 credit
Total required credits for Tier 1: 4 credits

Tier 2 Trunk Courses:
1. GEOL2001 (Planet Earth) – 4 credits
2. GEOL2005 (Earth Materials) – 4 credits
3. GEOL2700 (Introduction to Field Geology) – 2 credits
Total required credits for Tier 2: 10 credits

Tier 3 Trunk Courses:
1. One Solid Earth course. Students choose one of the following: GEOL 3010, 3020, 3120, 3320, 3430, 4130 (i.e. Structural Geology; Mineralogy; Geochemistry; Geophysics; Sedimentation and Stratigraphy; Petrology) – 3-4 credits
2. One Surface Processes course. Students choose one of the following: GEOL 4241, 3030, 3410, 4160, 3820, 3430, 3320, 4060 (i.e. Geomorphology; Hydrogeology; Paleobiology; Biogeochemistry; Fluid Earth; Sedimentology and Stratigraphy; Geochemistry; Oceanography 4060) – 3-4 credits
3. One Quantitative Geoscience course. Students choose one of the following: GEOL 4130, 3820, 3010, 3030,4241(i.e. Geophysics; Fluid Earth; Mineralogy; Hydrogeology; Geomorphology) – 3-4 credits
Total required credits for Tier 3: 9-12 credits. Note that some courses are listed in multiple tier 3 trunk categories. Students can choose which category to apply the course to but a given course can be applied to only one category.

Elective coursework:
1. Sufficient UD coursework from any of the approved branches that was not used to satisfy a Tier 3 requirement to total 27 UD credits (this total includes 9-12 credits of Tier 3 work). A minimum of 18 of these credits must be GEOL courses.
Any 3000-4000 GEOL courses can be applied to this elective requirement EXCEPT for the following:
GEOL3040, 3070, 3090, 3500, 3520, 3720, 3950, 4080, 4500
These courses are excluded because they are designed for non-majors seeking to satisfy their A&S Core Natural Science requirement.

Approved non-GEOL courses: CVEN 4404, 4718; EVEN 4100; EBIO 4030, 4060, 4630; MCDB 4350; GEOG 4251, 4261, 4321, 4401, 4201; ATOC 3600 (same as ENVS 3600/GEOG3601), 4720, 4800; ENVS 3434, 4201 (same as GEOG4201); ENVD 4023; ECON 3403; PSCI 4183; ANTH 4070, 4110, 4170; MUSM 4913, 4914, 4915, 4916; ASTR 3710, 3720, 3750, 4800; CHEM 4511; APPM 3050.

2. Four of those credits must consist of two UD field modules. Approved field modules are: GEOL 4711, 4712, 4714, 4715, 4716, 4717, 4721, EBIO 4630; EVEN 4100
3. A maximum of three of those credits can consist of a policy course from the following list: ATOC 4800; ASTR 4800; PSCI 4183; ECON 3403; ENVD 4023.


Requirements for Geophysics option

Ancillary coursework:
4. Chemistry 1 and 2 (CHEM1113, 1114, 1133, 1134) – 10 credits
5. Calculus 1 and 2(MATH1300 or APPM1350 AND MATH 2300 or APPM1360) – 10 credits
6. Physics 1 and 2 plus Experimental Physics lab class (PHYS 1110, 1120, 1140) – 9 credits
Total required ancillary credits: 29 credits

Tier 1 Trunk Course:
3. Students take one of the following: GEOL1010 OR GEOL2100 – 3 credits
4. GEOL1030 – 1 credit
Or equivalent work with advisor permission

Total required credits for Tier 1: 4 credits

Tier 2 Trunk Courses:
4. GEOL2001 (Planet Earth) – 4 credits
5. GEOL2005 (Earth Materials) – 4 credits
6. GEOL2700 (Introduction to Field Geology) – 2 credits
Total required credits for Tier 2: 10 credits

Tier 3 Trunk Courses:
4. One Solid Earth course. Students choose one of the following: GEOL 3010, 3020, 3120, 3320, 3430, 4130 (i.e. Structural Geology; Mineralogy; Geochemistry; Geophysics; Sedimentation and Stratigraphy; Petrology) – 3-4 credits
5. One Surface Processes course. Students choose one of the following: GEOL 4241, 3030, 3410, 4160, 3820, 3430, 3320, 4060 (i.e. Geomorphology; Hydrogeology; Paleobiology; Biogeochemistry; Fluid Earth; Sedimentology and Stratigraphy; Geochemistry; Oceanography 4060) – 3-4 credits
6. One Quantitative Geoscience course. Students choose one of the following: GEOL 4130, 3820, 3010, 3030,4241(i.e. Geophysics; Fluid Earth; Mineralogy; Hydrogeology; Geomorphology) – 3-4 credits
Total required credits for Tier 3: 9-12 credits. Note that some courses are listed in multiple tier 3 trunk categories. Students can choose which category to apply the course to but a given course can be applied to only one category.

Geophysics option students must also take courses from the following lists:
1. All of the following GEOL courses not previously taken to fulfill a Tier 3 requirement: GEOL 3010, 3120, 4130, 3020 OR 3320, 4714
2. The following non-GEOL courses: PHYS 2130, 2210, MATH 2400 OR APPM 2350, APPM 2360, Any two of the following: PHYS 3210; 3310; MATH 4470; APPM 4350


Career Possibilities
The B.A. degree with a major in Geological Sciences can lead to various entry-level positions in the energy and economic-minerals industry, environmental evaluation and regulation, industrial relations, reclamation, resource evaluation, research, surveying, and numerous other areas. The degree is also excellent preparation for later professional work in such fields as journalism, law, and economics.

If you are interested in professional work in the earth sciences, graduate school is generally necessary. You can then specialize in fields such as geochemistry, paleobiology, tectonics, remote sensing, paleoclimatology, geohydrology, petroleum geology, global change, paleoceanography, environmental geology, sedimentation, basin analysis, structural geology, mineralogy, ore deposits, petrology, geophysics, surficial and glacial geology, and soils.

Energy and mining companies, consulting firms, land development corporations, environmental analysis firms, research organizations, federal agencies, and academic institutions are among those organizations that commonly employ professional earth scientists.

Facilities and Programs
The department considers the diverse opportunities for field studies in the high plains and central Rocky Mountains of Colorado a particular strength of its undergraduate program. In addition, the department has research laboratories for studying rock and mineral deformation, soils, sedimentation, petrology and mineralogy, paleomagnetism, paleobiology, geophysics, geochemistry, geochronology, and isotope geochemistry. Research is facilitated by in-house personal computers, workstations, and links with the University's main computing center.

Additional research oppportunities are provided through connections with the University of Colorado Museum, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), the Energy and Minerals Applied Research Center ( EMARC), and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), all of which have their own research facilities. These groups are involved in interdisciplinary research relevant to the region, to global change issues, and to geological and geophysical topics throughout the world.

You may choose to seek honors in geology, which results in the designation of cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude at graduation. Contact your departmental advisor during your junior year. Click Here for more information on CU's honors program.

Travel and study abroad lends perspective to the student interested in the Earth and how different cultures interface with the environment. The Study Abroad Programs office offers more than 300 study abroad programs around the world, including numerous options for Geology majors. Specific courses in geology are available in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Oceania and Asia. You can choose to spend from a few weeks to a full academic year abroad, depending on the program selected.

For more information about studying abroad, please attend Study Abroad 101: Your First Step! This 30-minute session is offered multiple times each week and covers the basics of studying abroad as a CU-Boulder student. Times and locations can be found on the Study Abroad Programs website below (click on Getting Started)
http://studyabroad.colorado.edu.

For More Information:
Please call or stop by the department office for consultation. We're located in the Benson Earth Sciences building, Room 285, 492-8141. Or email us at geolinfo@colorado.edu. Designated faculty and staff advisors can help you determine if Geological Sciences is the right major for you, and help advise you on degree requirements.

Be sure to check the University of Colorado at Boulder Catalog for college policies, procedures, and course listings. Degree requirements and course listings are also provided elsewhere here. You may also want to consult each semester's Registration Handbook and Schedule of Courses as well as the Professor Performance Guide for further information about course offerings and faculty.

Although this page was prepared on the basis of all available information, course requirements are subject to change. Check with a departmental advisor for final program approval.


Connor Simmons with an ice drill ready to install a GPS monument on the Kennicott Glacier in southeastern Alaska’s Wrangell Mountains



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Geological Sciences
University of Colorado Boulder
UCB 399
Boulder, CO 80309-0399