FB Pixel Skip to Main Content

Petroleum Geology

Bachelor of Science

The modern world is still heavily dependent on oil and gas for everything from heating our homes to driving our cars. Petroleum geologists help maintain this critical supply by discovering and analyzing natural reserves on land and in the sea using sophisticated technology.

Program Overview

Explore how natural resources are discovered and produced.

The Moncrief Petroleum Geology program will prepare you for a career as a geoscientist in the oil and gas industry or as a resource assessment and energy policy manager at a governmental agency. In the program, you’ll have the opportunity to visit nearby oil and gas fields, study stunning geologic formations minutes from campus and work one-on-one with professors on independent research projects.

Generous donations from legendary oilman Tex Moncrief Jr. and Western graduate Paul M. Rady, Chairman and CEO of Antero Resources, have provided funding for the Petroleum Geology program. In our state-of-the-art computing facilities, you’ll learn the technological skills you need to navigate industry software and data sets. To begin making professional connections, you’ll have the opportunity to network with industry geoscientists and participate in competitive internships. If you’re interested in pursuing an advanced degree, our expert faculty will help you publish your research and apply to graduate programs.

Start exploring

Western provides one-of-a-kind opportunities to visit nearby oil and gas fields, study stunning geologic formations minutes from campus and work one-on-one with professors on independent research projects.

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

A minimum of 67 credits is required:

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 343Introduction to Geophysics3
GEOL 345Structural Geology (with laboratory)4
GEOL 346Subsurface Geology (with laboratory)4
GEOL 450Field Geology4
GEOL 455Petroleum Geology (with laboratory)4
One of the following:3-4
GEOL 320
Geomorphology (with laboratory)
GEOL 430
Hydrogeology (with laboratory)
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
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 Credits67-68

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) 1 4
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) 1 4
Year Two
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)
Gen Ed General Education Courses 6
COM 202 Academic Writing and Inquiry (GT-CO2) 3
GEOL 315 Earth Materials (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 6
Year Three
GEOL 343 Introduction to Geophysics 3
GEOL 345 Structural Geology (with laboratory) 4
Gen Ed General Education Courses 6
Elective Elective 3
GEOL 320
or GEOL 430
Geomorphology (with laboratory)
or Hydrogeology (with laboratory)
GEOL 346 Subsurface Geology (with laboratory) 4
Elective Elective 6
GEOL 450 Field Geology 4
Year Four
GEOL 455 Petroleum Geology (with laboratory) 4
Elective Electives 9
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


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.

Ready to apply or learn more about Western today?

Apply Request Info

Find Your Career

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.


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

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.

  • Computing Facilities: The Scientific Computing Lab and Geology Research Lab have a combined 20 workstations for highly-interactive instruction and use the most up-to-date industry software and data sets.
  • Outdoor Laboratory: The Gunnison Valley provides a wide range of opportunities for unique field experiences and undergraduate research.
  • Research Funding: The Bartleson-Prather Fund provides students scholarships and research stipends.

Outdoor observations

Petroleum Geology students observe many of the principles that they learn in the classroom on local field trips.

News & Research

Nontraditional student writes his own future in geosciences

Nontraditional student writes his own future in geosciences

Read More about Nontraditional student writes his own future in geosciences

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

Take the Next Step

Apply to

Apply to

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.



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.



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.



Want to discover more about Western? Request information today to get in touch with the admissions team.