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Bachelor of Science

Geoarchaeology applies the concepts of geology, geography and other Earth sciences to examine archaeological problems. It provides evidence for the preservation and development of historic sites and physical landscapes, taking into consideration the impact of humans. Surrounded by one of the world’s great outdoor laboratories for geology including a 10,000-year-old archaeological site, Western is well positioned for the study of Geoarchaeology.

Program Overview

Explore the history of the physical Earth and its people.

If you’re interested in uncovering the history of the physical Earth and the societies that inhabited it, you’ll find your niche in the Geoarchaeology emphasis. You’ll gain a geoscience background to support archaeological studies including geologic history, past climates and landscapes that would have impacted societies. The program features a blend of Geology and Anthropology courses and offers fieldwork opportunities in both fields.

The Gunnison Basin is one of the most geologically diverse regions in the world, and Tenderfoot (aka “W”) Mountain, just one mile away from campus, is home to structures dating to the Paleo Indian period—more than 10,000 years ago. Through a combination of rigorous coursework and unparalleled research opportunities, Western Colorado University offers an ideal environment to prepare you for a career or graduate studies in environmental and climate science, policy analysis and research.

Unparalleled research opportunities

All students take to the field every semester on trips that provide an opportunity to visit and explore famous sites, including the Hopi Mesas, Great Sand Dunes, Canyon de Chelly and Arches National Park.

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 Geoarchaeology Emphasis requires a minimum of 64 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 450Field Geology4
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
ANTH 107Introduction to General Anthropology (GT-SS3)3
ANTH 218Biological Anthropology (with laboratory)4
ANTH 219Archaeology (with laboratory)4
ANTH 230Cultural Anthropology (with laboratory)4
GEOG 340Introduction to Geographic Information Systems3
Select two of the following:7-8
ANTH 322
Analysis of Material Culture (with laboratory)
ANTH 333
Archaeology of Colorado
ANTH 469
Archaeology Field School
Select one of the following:3-4
CHEM 101
Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry (GT-SC2)
CHEM 111
CHEM 112
General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)
and General Chemistry Laboratory I (GT-SC1)
One of the following:3
MATH 113
Statistical Thinking (GT-MA1)
MATH 213
Probability and Statistics
Total Credits64-66

Capstone Course Requirement

GEOL 450 Field Geology

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
CHEM 111 General Chemistry I (GT-SC2) 3
CHEM 112 General Chemistry Laboratory I (GT-SC1) 1
GEOL 101 Physical Geology (GT-SC2) 3
GEOL 105 Physical Geology Laboratory (GT-SC1) 1
HWTR 100 First Year Seminar 1
MATH 141 Precalculus (GT-MA1) (or higher, depending on MATH placement) 1 4
Gen Ed General Education Courses 3
CHEM 113 General Chemistry II 3
CHEM 114 General Chemistry Laboratory II 1
ENG 102 Academic Writing (GT-CO1) 3
GEOL 201 Historical Geology (with laboratory) 4
MATH 151 Calculus I (GT-MA1) (or higher, depending on MATH placement) 1 4
Year Two
CS 190
or GEOG 340
or MATH 213
or MATH 252
Computer Science I
or Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
or Probability and Statistics
or Calculus III
GEOL 302 Geoscience Writing 2
GEOL 310 Stratigraphy 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)
Elective Elective 3
COM 202 Academic Writing and Inquiry (GT-CO2) 3
GEOL 345 Structural 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)
Gen Ed General Education Courses 3
Year Three
GEOL 305 Mineralogy (with laboratory) 4
GEOL 495 Geology Seminar 1
Elective Elective 3
Gen Ed General Education Courses 6
GEOL 311 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology (with laboratory) 4
GEOL 495
or GEOL 401
or GEOL 300
Geology Seminar
or Career Pathways in Geology
or Geology Field Trip
Gen Ed General Education Courses 6
GEOL 450 Field Geology 4
GEOL 452 Advanced Field Geology 2
Year Four
GEOL 320 Geomorphology (with laboratory) 4
Elective Electives 12
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)
Elective Electives 9
 Total Credits120

Geology requires completion of mathematics through Calculus II.  Additional mathematics courses may be required and would fill Elective courses as needed.


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.


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 1 for 2022. An Alumni selection committee, appointed by the Alumni Advisory Council, will review applicants and select awardee by June 1.


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 first-year student 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 below. Application forms are accepted year-round. If the applicant meets the GPA guidelines, the scholarship will be awarded.


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.


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 first-year students.

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

Take your education beyond the classroom.

Get the hands-on learning experience you need to apply your knowledge and launch your career.

  • 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.

Geology + Anthropology

The Geoarchaeology program features a blend of Geology and Anthropology courses and offers vast fieldwork opportunities in both fields including the study of geologic history, past climates and landscapes that would have impacted societies.

News & Research

PBS documentary features Western professor, W Mountain

PBS documentary features Western professor, W Mountain

Read More about PBS documentary features Western professor, W Mountain

Department Chairperson

Anne W. Ryter, Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry

Administrative Assistant

Lori Clement

NES Administrative Assistant

Contact Information



Campus Location

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

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