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Degree Tracks

Students who major in Geological Sciences choose one of four subject areas, or tracks, to complete requirements for a Bachelor of Science Degree. The tracks (Geology, Environmental Geoscience, Geophysics, and Paleontology) provide students with a focused curriculum in their chosen subject area. Students interested in a geology minor must take a different sequence of classes (see requirements for a minor in geology).

All majors take a common set of core courses that include introductory geology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Each track specifies a set of required courses that are followed by electives. A printable document that schematically shows the course requirements for each track can be found here. The focus of each track is summarized below.

Geology

The Geology track provides students with a rigorous background that emphasizes traditional disciplines of petrology, structural geology, tectonics, stratigraphy, and field studies. Upper-division electives permit students to focus in a chosen subdiscipline or develop greater breadth, and include courses in geophysics, geochemistry, petrology, data analysis, physics, math, geomorphology, and neotectonics.

Environmental Geoscience

This track is for students who want to understand the earth’s surface environments – rivers, hillslopes, soils, ground water and oceans – and how humans interact with these environments. Track requirements include courses in energy resources, sedimentary environments, and geologic hazards. Electives are selected from all geology courses numbered 414 and higher, as well as courses in geography, chemistry, math, physics, and biology.

Geophysics

In Geophysics, students develop a foundation in mathematics and physics that enables them to apply quantitative methods to understanding processes such as earthquakes, mantle flow, plate movements, heat flow, and crustal deformation. Upper-division electives are selected from courses in structural geology, geodynamics, neotectonics, fault mechanics, remote sensing, geomorphology, and advanced math courses.

Paleontology

In paleontology, students study the evolution of life as preserved in fossils extracted from ancient rocks. Students take courses in vertebrate and invertebrate paleontology, paleosols, stratigraphy, and field methods. Elective courses permit students to develop a complementary focus in biology or chemistry, and/or additional paleontology.