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

General Geology Option

This option offers in-depth training in the traditional areas of the geosciences, including a broad scientific and analytical background based on chemistry, physics, and mathematics.

Geophysics Option

This option focuses on the physics of the earth. In particular, you will study the materials, structure and processes of the earth’s interior, and the deformation and dynamics of the earth.   

The B.A. degree with a major in geology 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, paleo-oceanography, 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.

Career Services ( helps students discover who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. They are the bridge between academics and the world of work. 

Career Services offers free services for all CU-Boulder degree-seeking students, and alumni up to one year after graduation. Meet individually the staff to discuss major and career exploration, internship or job searching, and graduate school preparation.

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 programs. In addition, the department has research laboratories for studying rock and mineral deformation, soils, sedimentation, petrology and mineralogy, paleomagnetism, paleobiology, geophysics, geochemistry, geochronology, hydrology, and isotope geochemistry. Research is facilitated by in-house minicomputers and by links with the university’s main computing center.

Additional research opportunities are provided through connections with the University of Colorado Museum, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), and the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), all of which have their own research facilities. These groups are involved in interdisciplinary research relevant to the region, global change issues, earthquakes, remote sensing, hydrology, planetary geology, and other geological and geophysical topics throughout the world. 

The Department of Geological Sciences sponsors an Undergraduate Mentoring Program to engage geology majors in the excitment of scientific discovery. In exchange for research assistance, each mentor assumes a one-on-one mentoring responsibility for their undergraduate major, providing advice on professional development, graduate school, or employment opportunities. Department grants of $1,000 each are used to support the research activities of each faculty-student pair.

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) offers students a chance to work alongside a faculty sponsor on original research. Learn to write proposals, conduct research, pursue creative work, analyze data and present the results. For more information, call UROP at 303-492-2596,

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 primary advisor during your junior year. 

The experience of studying abroad can prove invaluable for you as a geology major. Your first-hand experience can provide you with new insights into the earth and how different cultures interface with the environment. The university offers more than 100 programs throughout the world that offer credit, in some cases fulfilling major and core requirements. You may spend a few weeks to a full academic year abroad, depending on the program you select. 

Prior language study or other prerequisites are necessary for some programs, so early planning for study abroad is essential. Further information about study abroad is available from the Office of International Education located in the Center for Community, by phone at 303-492 -7741, or on the web at:

Please speak with your advisor for specific recommendations; the following is intended to be a general outline only and there may be flexibility to this plan.

Geology 4-Year Plan
Average 30 credits per year


First Year – Fall Semester
GEOL 1010/GEOL 1030
(4): Introduction to Geology 1 and Lab or GEOL 2100 (4): Environmental Geology
CHEM 1113/CHEM1114 (5):  General Chemistry 1 and Lab
CORE (3): Skills Acquisition (ex: Lower-Division Written Communication)
CORE (3): Content Area of Study (see Degree Audit for options)

First Year – Spring Semester
GEOL 2005
(4): Introduction to Earth Materials
CHEM 1133/CHEM1134 (5):  General Chemistry 2 and Lab
MATH 1300 (5): Calculus 1 or APPM 1350 (4): Calculus 1 for Engineers

 Second Year – Fall Semester
GEOL 2001 (4): Planet Earth
GEOL 2700 (2): Introduction to Field Geology
MATH 2300 (5): Calculus 2 or APPM 1360 (4) Calculus 2 for Engineers
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
CORE (3): Content Area of Study

Second Year – Spring Semester
(3): Surface Processes Course (see Degree Audit for choices)
GEOL 3010, 3120, 3320, 3420 or 4130 (3 -4): Solid Earth Course
PHYS 1110 (4): Calculus-based Intro Physics 1                              
CORE (3): Content Area of Study

Third Year – Fall Semester
PHYS 1120
(4): Calculus-based Intro Physics 2      
PHYS 1140 (1): Experimental Physics 1 Lab
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
GEOL Elective (3-4) approved GEOL class for the major
Elective (3)

Third Year – Spring Semester
GEOL 3010, 3030, 3820, 4130 or 4241
(3-4): Qualitative Geoscience course
GEOL (2): 4000-level Field Geology course (2 courses required, see Degree Audit for choices)
CORE (3): Skills Acquisition (example: Upper-Division Written Communication)
Elective (3):
Elective (3)

Fourth Year – Fall Semester
(2): 4000-level Field Geology course (2 courses required, see Degree Audit for choices)
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
GEOL Elective (3-4): approved GEOL class for the major
Elective (3)
Elective (3)

Fourth Year – Spring Semester
GEOL Elective
(3-4): approved GEOL class for the major
GEOL Elective (3-4): approved GEOL class for the major
GEOL Elective (3-4): approved GEOL class for the major
Elective (3)
Elective (3)