The options available in the undergraduate program in geological sciences are geology, geophysics, and environmental geosciences. Each option leads to the BA degree. All of these options provide a strong basis for understanding the functioning of the Earth system and a firm foundation for graduate study and professional employment. Students who are uncertain as to which option best suits their needs should contact a departmental advisor or faculty member. In all options, the undergraduate program emphasizes course work in theoretical, laboratory, and field-oriented aspects of the geological sciences. The nearby Rocky Mountains provide a natural laboratory for many of these courses.
Students interested in the geological sciences may also wish to consider the Baker Residential Academic Program. Students who do not wish to pursue a career in the geosciences, or who would like to combine a basic knowledge of geologic sciences with that of some other field, should consider using geological sciences as one subject in a distributed studies major or as a minor. Students who intend to pursue graduate study in the geological sciences are encouraged to consider developing an honor thesis as part of their undergraduate studies.
The three options available in the undergraduate major offer different focus areas of instruction. All three options offer excellent preparation for students interested in pursuing professional careers, or graduate study, in the geological sciences.
Each option emphasizes knowledge in:
The geology option is a traditional geology degree program that emphasizes the following:
The environmental geoscience option emphasizes the following:
The geophysics option emphasizes:
Course code for this program is GEOL.
Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours
Students electing the geology option are required to take the following additional courses:
Geology option students must also take courses from the following lists:
Students electing the environmental geoscience option are required to take the following additional courses:
Environmental geoscience option students must also take courses from the following lists:
Students electing the geophysics option are required to take the following additional courses:
Geophysics option students must also take courses from the following lists:
Additional information on required courses and other departmental requirements may be obtained from the departmental office. Students should contact the department for a list of current major requirements.
Transfer students must satisfactorily complete a minimum of 12 credit hours of advanced work (3000-level or above) in the Department of Geological Sciences in Boulder if they wish to obtain a degree in geology from CU-Boulder. Before registering for the first time, or within the first week of the semester, such students must see a geological sciences department undergraduate advisor to have previous course work in geology, math, and allied sciences evaluated.
Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for information on eligibility. The concept of “adequate progress” as it is used here only refers to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain adequate progress in geology, students should meet all college requirements plus specific departmental requirements. These departmental requirements vary slightly between the three major options. Detailed information is available from the department office, but in general these requirements include:
Opportunity is provided for qualified geology majors to participate in the geology honors program and graduate with honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude) in geology. Students interested in the honors program should contact the departmental honors advisor during their junior year.
The minor program in geological sciences is meant for students who would like to acquire a basic knowledge of geology in addition to their major area of study. The arts and sciences requirements for a minor include a minimum of 18 credit hours in the minor area, including a minimum of 9 upper-division hours. The departmental requirements for the minor are listed below. The department strongly urges that students interested in pursuing a minor in geology consult a departmental advisor.
1. Any 1000-level introductory sequence:
Plus an introductory laboratory course: 1030-1 Introduction to Geology Laboratory
2. At least one of the following laboratory or field-oriented courses:
3. Any additional courses at the 3000-level to bring the total hours in geology to 18.
Students interested in graduate work in the geological sciences should carefully read the detailed information regarding admission, registration, and degree requirements that is available from the departmental office. A brief summary follows.
All students applying for admission must take the Graduate Record Examination. Results of this examination are used both for determining admittance and for initial academic counseling.
Entering students normally have completed at least 24 semester hours of basic courses in geological science and two semesters each of chemistry, physics, and calculus. In some cases, exceptional undergraduate preparation in other fields of science, mathematics, or engineering may substitute for part of the 24 hours in geological science.
Each student acquires a primary advisor and an advisory committee which provides guidance throughout the degree program.
Candidates for the master’s degree in geological sciences must complete at least 24 credit hours of graduate course work plus a thesis (Plan I), or 30 credit hours of graduate course work without a thesis (Plan II). The Plan II program requires at least 3 hours of GEOL 6960 (Plan II Master’s Research) under the supervision of the advisory committee. For both plans, at least 24 credit hours must be completed at the 5000 level or above. See Graduate School specifications for more information.
Candidates for the doctoral degree must complete at least 30 credit hours in course work numbered 5000 or above, of which at least 20 must be taken at CU-Boulder. In addition to course work, candidates must take a total of at least 30 hours of GEOL 8990 doctoral dissertation hours, with not more than 10 of these in any one semester and not more than 10 before the comprehensive examination is passed.
The Department of Geological Sciences participates in the interdepartmental PhD program in geophysics and hydrology. For more information about this program, see the Graduate School section.