Geology

Bachelor of Science

Degree Type

Major, Minor, Secondary Licensure

Department

Natural & Environmental Sciences (NES) Department

Geologists study the Earth, how it works and its 4.5 billion-year history. By studying some of the most important environmental problems of our time, geologists offer critical insights, evaluations and policy recommendations to protect life on our planet. Located in the Gunnison Basin in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Western Geology students have access to an abundance of research opportunities and hands-on field experiences.

Program Overview

Live and learn in one of the most geologically diverse regions in the world.

Geology involves the study of rocks, minerals, topography and plate tectonics (earthquakes, volcanism and mountain building), as well as the history of Earth and it’s life forms. As a Geology student at Western Colorado University, you’ll live and learn in one of the most geologically diverse regions in the world—the Gunnison Basin in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

Through a combination of comprehensive coursework and hands-on experiences in the field, every aspect of the Geology major at Western meets or exceeds the American Geological Institute standards. Upon graduation, you’ll be prepared to pursue a graduate degree and excel professionally as an environmental consultant, geological surveyor, mine geologist and more.

Working in the field

Located in the south-central Colorado Rockies, Gunnison is the ideal location for students to study a variety of geological landscapes just minutes from campus.

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 Standard Geology Emphasis requires a minimum of 62 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
Two credits from the following:2
GEOL 300
Geology Field Trip
GEOL 401
Career Pathways in Geology
GEOL 452
Advanced Field Geology
GEOL 495
Geology Seminar
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
MATH 151Calculus I (GT-MA1)4
MATH 251Calculus II4
One of the following:3-4
CS 190
Computer Science I
GEOG 340
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
MATH 213
Probability and Statistics
MATH 252
Calculus III
Either both:8
PHYS 170
Principles of Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
PHYS 171
Principles of Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
or both:
PHYS 200
General Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
PHYS 201
General Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
Total Credits62-63

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 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
 Credits16
Spring
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
 Credits15
Year Two
Fall
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
3
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)
4
Elective Elective 3
 Credits16
Spring
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)
4
Gen Ed General Education Courses 3
 Credits14
Year Three
Fall
GEOL 305 Mineralogy (with laboratory) 4
GEOL 495 Geology Seminar 1
Elective Elective 3
Gen Ed General Education Courses 6
 Credits14
Spring
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
1
Gen Ed General Education Courses 6
 Credits11
Summer
GEOL 450 Field Geology 4
GEOL 452 Advanced Field Geology 2
 Credits6
Year Four
Fall
GEOL 320 Geomorphology (with laboratory) 4
Elective Electives 12
 Credits16
Spring
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
Elective Electives 9
 Credits12
 Total Credits120
 Fall (even years)  Spring (odd years)
GEOL 101 Physical Geology GEOL 105 Physical Geology Lab GEOL 302 Geoscience Writing GEOL 305  Mineralogy w/ Lab GEOL 310 Stratigraphy and Sedimentation w/ Lab GEOL 320 Geomorphology w/ Lab GEOL 352 Applied Geophysics w/ Lab GEOL 411 Research in Volcanology and Petrology w/ Lab GEOL 455 Petroleum Geology w/ Lab GEOL 495 Research Seminar in Geology GEOL 101 Physical Geology GEOL 105 Physical Geology Lab GEOL 201 Historical Geology w/ Lab GEOL 240 Introduction to Petroleum and Mining Geology GEOL 300 Geology Field Trip GEOL 311 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology w/ Lab GEOL 345 Structural Geology w/ Lab GEOL 360 Isotope Geochemistry GEOL 430 Hydrogeology GEOL 465 Research in Basin Analysis w/ Lab GEOL 495 Research Seminar in Geology
Fall (odd years) Spring (even years)
GEOL 101 Physical Geology GEOL 105 Physical Geology Lab GEOL 302 Geoscience Writing GEOL 305  Mineralogy w/ Lab GEOL 310 Stratigraphy and Sedimentation w/ Lab GEOL 320 Geomorphology w/ Lab GEOL 346 Subsurface Geology w/ Lab GEOL 420 Research in Quaternary Geology w/ Lab GEOL 455 Petroleum Geology w/ Lab GEOL 495 Research Seminar in Geology GEOL 101 Physical Geology GEOL 105 Physical Geology Lab GEOL 201 Historical Geology w/ Lab GEOL 240 Introduction to Petroleum and Mining Geology GEOL 300 Geology Field Trip GEOL 311 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology w/ Lab GEOL 345 Structural Geology w/ Lab GEOL 362 Environmental Geochemistry GEOL 465 Research in Basin Analysis w/ Lab GEOL 495 Research Seminar in Geology

Spotlight

Geology

Gordon Gianniny

Alumni

“The combination of rigorous coursework and independent research opportunities that I had at Western gave me the skills and experience necessary to pursue a career in geology.”

Geology

Ali Smith & Aric Snellstrom

Alumni

"Using resources from Western's Mountain Rescue team and Wilderness Pursuits, Smith and Snellstrom embarked on a quest to climb the highest peaks in the lower 48 states."

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

Eligibility

  • An outstanding undergraduate student who is majoring in Geology

Description

This scholarship is provided by Paul Rady, Peter Dea & Barrett Resources Corporation.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Geology Department Scholarship Committee.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Eligibility

  • Applied or accepted Western student
  • Student is pursuing a major in Mathematics or related Natural Sciences
  • Applicant has demonstrated a need for financial assistance
  • Demonstrated an interest and is active in inter-collegiate athletics
  • Preference should be given to entering freshmen, however all classes are eligible
  • Preference should be given to applicants whose study time is limited by family obligations or the need to earn income
  • No preference shall be given based on the sex of the applicant
  • Preference will be given to applicant from Delta County, CO. or the Western Slope of Colorado

Description

Established with the Western Colorado University Foundation to perpetuate the memory of William Charlesworth, a 1954 graduate of Western Colorado University. The express purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to student-athletes pursuing majors in mathematics or related natural sciences.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected By: The chair of Mathematics and Computer Science and a representative from the Athletic Department appointed by the Athletic Director. A representative from the Natural Sciences Department shall be on the selection committee.

Application:

Contact the Mathematics & Computer Science Department or the Athletic Department for application and deadline information.

Mathematics & Computer Science Department: 970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128
Athletic Department: 970.943.2079 | Paul Wright Gym 201.

Eligibility

  • Geology majors who are committed to the timely and enthusiastic pursuit of a Geology degree
  • Must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher

Description

This scholarship is provided by Art H. Menzer.

Amount: $500

Selected by: Western Colorado University Geology Faculty

Application:

Geology faculty review Geology majors for consideration. Contact the Department of Natural & Environmental Sciences for additional information. 970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Eligibility

  • Full-time students who are majoring in Geology, Environment & Sustainability, Environmental Biology or a related field.
  • Must be a junior level (60+ credits)
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • Preference given to students with financial need who are residents of the Western Slope of Colorado and have expressed interest in a career in park operations/park management or a career in the earth sciences

Description

This scholarship is provided by Barbara Kastellic and gifts from others to honor Joseph, who was the first Superintendent of the Black Canyon National Monument from 1975-1984.

Award depends on funds available.

Application:

Complete and submit The Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship application which is available in the Financial Aid Office.

A recommendation and a one-page essay will be needed to complete the application.

Eligibility

  • Students majoring in Geology
  • Demonstrate academic promise and financial need

Description

This scholarship is provided by Marquerite Davidson.

Award depends on funds available

Selected By: Geology Faculty

Application:

Applicants must write a letter stating their interest in Geology and explaining their financial need. Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for additional information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Eligibility

  • Full-time juniors or seniors (qualified juniors shall be given preference over seniors)
  • Must be declared major in the Natural and Environmental Sciences Department
  • Must maintain at least 3.2 GPA
  • Recipients must follow Casey’s example of academic promise, love for the outdoors and service to fellow students demonstrated by volunteering in the community and involvement in campus activities and service.

Description

this scholarship is provided by the gifts by Bill and Monica McKenny, Casey’s parents, as well as other family members and friends.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Natural & Environmental Sciences faculty in consultation with the Dean of Students and Bill and Monica McKenny.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Eligibility

  • Students majoring in Geology who have completed their junior year of study at Western Colorado University
  • Must be able to demonstrate high GPA and leadership potential within the field of geology

Description

This scholarship is provided by the parents and friends of Valerie Mitchell who died in an accident at the end of her junior year.

Award depends on funds available. (Anticipated award $200)

Selected by: Western Colorado University Geology Faculty.

Application:

Geology faculty review geology majors for consideration. Contact the Department of Natural & Environmental Sciences for additional information. 970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Learn more about Western’s Geology Program.

Eligibility

  • Students majoring in Geology
  • 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Must have academic promise and financial need

Description

This scholarship is provided by Richard W. and Belva Moyle.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Western Colorado University Geology Faculty.

Application:

Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

Learn more about Western’s Geology Program.

Eligibility

  • Full-time Colorado residents who have a major in a field within the Natural & Environmental Science Department
  • Must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 minimum
  • Demonstrate financial need

Description

This scholarship is provided by Dr. James Nauman, who attended Western from 1945-49.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

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

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.
    Learn more about geology field camp.
  • 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.

An outdoor laboratory

A class of geology students take a field trip to a site near Tomichi Dome.

News & Research

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Additional Resources

Donation Opportunities

Geology Donation Opportunities The Geology Department has five major funds to which alumni and friends can give. If you’re interested in giving, contact us or the Western Colorado University …

Learn More

Geology Field Camp

Western Colorado University offers a four-week, field-based experience open to Western students and qualified students from other universities pursuing a degree in geology or geology-related studies.

Learn More

Department Chairperson

Robin A. Bingham, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

Administrative Assistant

Samantha Siegfried

Administrative Assistant for NES

Contact Information

970.943.2015

rbingham@western.edu

Campus Location

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