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Geology

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

Geology student

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.

Now accepting registration for Summer 2022 Field Camp.

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:

Course List
Code Title 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 (GT-MA1)
MATH 252
Calculus III
Select one of the following pairs of courses:8
PHYS 170
PHYS 185
Principles of Physics I (GT-SC2)
and Laboratory Physics I (GT-SC1)
AND
PHYS 171
PHYS 186
Principles of Physics II (GT-SC2)
and Laboratory Physics II (GT-SC1)
OR
PHYS 190
PHYS 185
General Physics I (GT-SC2)
and Laboratory Physics I (GT-SC1)
AND
PHYS 191
PHYS 186
General Physics II (GT-SC2)
and Laboratory Physics II (GT-SC1)
Total Credits62-63

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
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 Writing and Rhetoric I (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 (GT-MA1)
or Calculus III
3
GEOL 302 Geoscience Writing 2
GEOL 310 Stratigraphy and Sedimentation (with laboratory) 4
PHYS 185 Laboratory Physics I (GT-SC1) 1
PHYS 170
or PHYS 190
Principles of Physics I (GT-SC2)
or General Physics I (GT-SC2)
3
Elective Elective 3
 Credits16
Spring
ENG 103 Writing and Rhetoric II (GT-CO2) 3
GEOL 345 Structural Geology (with laboratory) 4
PHYS 186 Laboratory Physics II (GT-SC1) 1
PHYS 171
or PHYS 191
Principles of Physics II (GT-SC2)
or General Physics II (GT-SC2)
3
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
1

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

 
 
 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

Take the first steps toward your dream career.

Career preparation is the primary focus of every academic program at Western. Our professors and Office of Career Services will help you identify your strengths, hone your skills, define your goals, and prepare for a fulfilling role in hundreds of professional fields after graduation.

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

Scholarships

Western’s Scholarship Application portal allows you to search for, apply to and manage your scholarship opportunities. This platform houses over 300+ departmental and privately funded scholarship opportunities available to both new and returning students. Through the scholarship portal, students may identify scholarship opportunities based on academic program, campus involvement, academic standing, specific keywords and more. Students may click below to begin learning about what scholarship opportunities are available to them.

Access to apply for scholarships through the portal is open through April 1.

Please check individual scholarship opportunity start dates and deadlines as there are exceptions.

Find your scholarships!

Western’s Scholarship Application portal allows you to search for, apply to and manage your scholarship opportunities. This platform houses over 300+ departmental and privately funded scholarship opportunities available to both new and returning students. Through the scholarship portal, students may identify scholarship opportunities based on academic program, campus involvement, academic standing, specific keywords and more. Students may click below to begin learning about what scholarship opportunities are available to them.

Access to apply for scholarships through the portal is open through April 1.

Please check individual scholarship opportunity start dates and deadlines as there are exceptions.

Find your 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 1 for 2023. An Alumni selection committee, appointed by the Alumni Advisory Council, 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 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.

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.

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

Geology trip

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

Anne W. Ryter, Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry

Administrative Assistant

Lori Clement

NES Administrative Assistant

Contact Information

970.943.2015

rbingham@western.edu

Campus Location

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

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