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Environmental Geology

Bachelor of Science

From studying contaminated soil and groundwater to observing the impacts of flooding and landslides, environmental geologists monitor issues, mitigate hazards and maximize benefits of natural resources. If you’re interested in hydrogeology, natural hazards, environmental consulting or informing policy with research, you’ll find a rewarding career in the field of environmental geology.

Program Overview

Explore the dynamic relationship between humans and their geologic environment.

Environmental geology focuses on the interactions between people and the physical Earth. At Western Colorado University, you’ll have the unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience conducting fieldwork in the nearby Elk, West Elk and San Juan ranges; the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gold Belt; the active tectonics of the Rio Grande Rift and more. You can also apply for scholarships and research stipends to conduct original research through the Bartleson-Prather Fund and collaborate with faculty to get your work published. A comprehensive understanding of environmental geology will prepare you for a meaningful career as a hydrologist, environmental consultant or public policy researcher.

Research in the field

Geology students have opportunities to explore the Elk, West Elk and San Juan ranges; the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gold Belt; the active tectonics of the Rio Grande Rift and more.

Program Requirements

At Western, course rotations are crafted to encompass a variety of subject fields for a comprehensive education and versatile degree. For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

Program Requirements

The Environmental Geology Emphasis requires a minimum of 69 credits:

GEOL 101Physical Geology (GT-SC2)3
or GEOL 103 Earth and Energy Systems
GEOL 105Physical Geology Laboratory (GT-SC1)1
GEOL 201Historical Geology (with laboratory)4
GEOL 302Geoscience Writing2
GEOL 310Stratigraphy and Sedimentation (with laboratory)4
GEOL 315Earth Materials (with laboratory)4
GEOL 320Geomorphology (with laboratory)4
GEOL 345Structural Geology (with laboratory)4
GEOL 430Hydrogeology (with laboratory)3
GEOL 450Field Geology4
Select two of the following:6
GEOL 335
Introduction to Engineering Geology
GEOL 343
Introduction to Geophysics (with laboratory)
GEOL 362
Environmental Geochemistry
Select one of the following:3
GEOL 411
Research in Volcanology and Petrology (with laboratory)
GEOL 420
Research in Geomorphology (with laboratory)
GEOL 435
Research in Structure and Tectonics (with laboratory)
GEOL 465
Research in Basin Analysis (with laboratory)
Required Supporting Courses
CHEM 111General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)3
CHEM 112General Chemistry Laboratory I (GT-SC1)1
CHEM 113General Chemistry II3
CHEM 114General Chemistry Laboratory II1
GEOG 340Introduction to Geographic Information Systems3
MATH 151Calculus I (GT-MA1)4
MATH 251Calculus II4
Select one of the following:8
PHYS 170
PHYS 171
Principles of Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
and Principles of Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
PHYS 200
PHYS 201
General Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
and General Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
Total Credits69

Capstone Course Requirement

One of the following: GEOL 411 RESEARCH/VOLCANOLOGY&PETROLOGYGEOL 420 RESEARCH IN GEOMORPHOLOGYGEOL 435 Research in Structure and Tectonics (with laboratory) , or GEOL 465 RESEARCH IN BASIN ANALYS W/LABEDUC 409 SECONDARY STUDENT TEACHING(Secondary Licensure in Earth-Space Science Emphasis).

Graduation Requirements

Undergraduate programs require a minimum of 120 semester credits for graduation.  Of those 120 credits, 40 credits must be in upper-division courses (those marked 300 and above).  Fifteen of these 40 upper-division credits must be earned in courses that are part of the standard or comprehensive major program being pursued.

Students are expected to review all graduation requirements, which can be found in the Western Undergraduate Catalog: Graduation Requirements.

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredits
CHEM 111General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)3
CHEM 112General Chemistry Laboratory I (GT-SC1)1
GEOL 101Physical Geology (GT-SC2)3
GEOL 105Physical Geology Laboratory (GT-SC1)1
HWTR 100First Year Seminar1
MATH 140College Algebra (GT-MA1) (or higher, depending on MATH placement) 13
Gen Ed General Education Courses3
Credits15
Spring
CHEM 113General Chemistry II3
CHEM 114General Chemistry Laboratory II1
ENG 102Academic Writing (GT-CO1)3
GEOL 201Historical Geology (with laboratory)4
MATH 141Precalculus (GT-MA1) (or higher, depending on MATH placement) 14
Credits15
Year Two
Fall
GEOG 340Introduction to Geographic Information Systems3
GEOL 302Geoscience Writing2
GEOL 310Stratigraphy and Sedimentation (with laboratory)4
PHYS 170
or PHYS 200
Principles of Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
or General Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
4
Gen Ed General Education Courses3
Credits16
Spring
COM 202Academic Writing and Inquiry (GT-CO2)3
GEOL 345Structural Geology (with laboratory)4
PHYS 171
or PHYS 201
Principles of Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
or General Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
4
Elective Elective
Credits11
Year Three
Fall
GEOL 305Mineralogy (with laboratory)4
GEOL 335Introduction to Engineering Geology3
GEOL 352Applied Geophysics (with laboratory)3
Elective Elective 3
Gen Ed General Education Courses6
Credits19
Spring
GEOL 311Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology (with laboratory)4
GEOL 362Environmental Geochemistry3
GEOL 495
or GEOL 401
Geology Seminar
or Career Pathways in Geology
1
Gen Ed General Education Courses3
Elective Elective 3
Credits14
Summer
GEOL 450Field Geology4
Credits4
Year Four
Fall
GEOL 320Geomorphology (with laboratory)4
GEOL 411
or GEOL 420
or GEOL 435
or GEOL 465
Research in Volcanology and Petrology (with laboratory)
or Research in Geomorphology (with laboratory)
or Research in Structure and Tectonics (with laboratory)
or Research in Basin Analysis (with laboratory)
3
Gen Ed General Education Courses3
Elective Elective 3
Credits13
Spring
GEOL 430Hydrogeology (with laboratory)3
Elective Electives 9
Credits12
Total Credits119

Careers

Career preparation starts your first year at Western and is the primary focus of every degree.

Visit Career Services in Library 120 or online to discover your interests, define your goals, and land the career of your dreams.

The data below is automatically collected by Burning Glass Technologies, a firm that sources job market data and provides analytics. The statistics illustrate general trends in U.S. careers, but do not precisely represent every job and salary.

Scholarships

Alumni Association Future Alumni Scholarship

The Alumni Association Scholarship is a one-time scholarship of $1,000 and is applicable for the student’s junior or senior year at Western.

Any child or grandchild of an alumni is eligible to receive the Future Alumni Scholarship.

  • This is a one-time non-renewable scholarship of $1,000.
  • Only one Future Alumni Scholarship will be awarded per academic year.
  • GPA must be 3.2 or above (college).

Due date has been extended to April 15 for 2021. An Alumni selection committee, appointed by the Alumni Advisory Board, will review applicants and select awardee by June 1.

Apply

Alumni Legacy Scholarship

The Alumni Legacy Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western (incoming freshman or new transfer students are eligible).

Do you have a son or daughter looking at college? Have they considered attending Western? As an alumni, your son, daughter and/or grandchildren are eligible for certain benefits distributed through this scholarship, as follows:

  • This is a one-time scholarship of $1,000.
  • Nominee must be an incoming freshman or new transfer.
  • The cost of orientation is reduced by half (a $45 value).
  • The admission application fee is waived (a $30 value).
  • GPA must be 2.5 or above (high school or college of transfer).

The applicant must fill out the application form found here (click). Application forms are accepted year-round. If the applicant meets the GPA guidelines, the scholarship will be awarded.

Apply

Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

The Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western. This scholarship is not available to midyear transfers or students beginning in the spring semester.

Are you an alumni or employee of Western and know a prospective (or incoming) student who would be a great fit at Western? A recommendation from alumni and employees can support any new student and provide them a $500 scholarship their first year. (Western employees may not recommend a spouse or dependent receiving tuition benefits).

  • Any Western alumni/employee may nominate only one student per academic year to receive the $500 scholarship (distributed $250 per semester).
  • The scholarship is good for the first year only and is non-renewable.
  • The recommended student must be a full-time undergraduate student, attending Western for the first time.

The applicant must fill out the application form found here. The nominating alumni/employee must fill out the application form and submit the required documents by June 1. The recommended student must meet university admissions acceptance standards and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential Promise, visit our scholarships page.

Description

The Western Presidential Honors Scholarships, established by the Jack and Marilyn MacAllister Foundation shall be an elite class of scholarships awarded to Western’s highest achieving and most deserving students, celebrating the ideals of academic excellence and service to the campus and community. Recipients of the Scholarships will be members of the Western Colorado University Honors Program.

There are eight Presidential Honors Scholarships of $2500 each. Each year two new Presidential Honors Scholarships will be awarded to two incoming freshmen.

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student’s GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at western.edu/cost to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit our scholarships page.

Get Involved

Make your education a life changing experience.

A college education is so much more than just taking classes. Expand your community and network, while gaining hands-on experience in your field.

  • Fieldwork: Students explore the Elk, West Elk and San Juan ranges; the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gold Belt; the active tectonics of the Rio Grande Rift and more.
  • Geology Club: The Geology Club is active in fundraising for student experiences, including field trips and attending professional conferences.
  • Geology Scholarships and Awards: Four annual scholarships, from generous geology alumni donations, are awarded to geology students to help offset educational costs.
  • Research Funding: The Bartleson-Prather Fund provides students with scholarships and research stipends.

A strong foundation

Geology students study topics such as minerals, rocks, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, and the origin of landscapes by mass wasting, rivers, glaciers, ground water, and nearshore processes.

News & Research

Geology professors research desert archives

Geology Professors Break New Ground with Desert Paleoclimate Archives

Read More about Geology Professors Break New Ground with Desert Paleoclimate Archives
Western professor publishes book focused on sustainability in business

Western professor publishes book focused on sustainability in business

Read More about Western professor publishes book focused on sustainability in business
Western Faculty Work to Preserve Nature with the Gunnison Public Lands Initiative

Western Faculty Work to Preserve Nature with the Gunnison Public Lands Initiative

Read More about Western Faculty Work to Preserve Nature with the Gunnison Public Lands Initiative
Western’s MEM program helps start ecological restoration in Gunnison Valley

Western’s MEM program helps start ecological restoration in Gunnison Valley

Read More about Western’s MEM program helps start ecological restoration in Gunnison Valley

Department Chairperson

Robin A. Bingham, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

Administrative Assistant

Samantha Siegfried

Administrative Assistant for NES

Campus Location

Western Colorado University
Hurst Hall 128
1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81231

Take the Next Step

Apply to Western

Apply to Western

We understand that applying to a university can be daunting, which is why we make our admission process as simple and straightforward as possible. Learn more about applying to your program of choice at Western.

Visit Western

Visit Western

The best way to find out what makes Western such a special place is to experience it for yourself. Our student-led tours give you an insider’s perspective on everything from academics to student life.

Alumni Community

Alumni Community

We keep the Mountaineer spirit going strong within our alumni community. Whether getting together with friends at an annual event, making a donation or mentoring a student, graduates continue to play an important role in the Western community.