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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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What Programs Do We Offer?

The B.S. Geology major provides a competitive undergraduate curriculum of geology and geography (e.g., Geographic Information Systems) comparable to Geology programs at many institutions nationwide. It is a four-year program: all core courses are offered every year (unlike many Geology programs at other institutions), and electives provide grounding in groundwater, engineering, and resource geology.

We also offer the Environmental Geology Certificate, enabling students and professionals alike to develop competency in geologic skills relevant to solving environmental problems.

The Geology minor is an excellent complement to related programs in Civil Engineering, Environmental Science, and Geography, among others.

The Geology program is affiliated with the B.S. Earth Science Teaching program, administered in the College of Education and housed in the Department of Geography.

Career Paths

The B.S. Geology major prepares students for careers in the geological sciences, addressing needs related to resources (energy and raw materials from the Earth), environment (groundwater, land use), hazards (earthquakes, landslides), and engineering, as well as graduate study in these and related fields. Our graduates enjoy very high placement rates and starting salaries up to and over $75,000; others are accepted into graduate programs nationwide. Employers for geologists include industries (oil and mining companies, environmental consulting firms); local, State, and federal government agencies; and academic institutions.

If you enjoy the outdoors as well as science and math and think you would like solving intriguing Earth-related problems of societal importance, the Geology major may provide a rewarding and fulfilling career path for you.

The B.S. Earth Science Teaching program, which draws heavily on Geology coursework, has launched graduates into teaching positions throughout the State and beyond.


All faculty in MSU’s Geology program possess the PhD and are devoted to teaching as well as being actively engaged in research. Undergraduates are involved in faculty research projects locally and across the country, and many travel to field areas as well as to regional and national professional conferences to present results. The Geology program benefits from its close affiliation with faculty in the Geography Department, particularly its specialties in surficial processes and mapping capabilities including Geographic Information Systems, GPS, and remote sensing. It is also closely allied with the Water Resources Center on campus.


The Geology program is housed in LEED-certified Ford Hall, constructed in 2008, boasting modern classroom and lab facilities. The program houses a new X-ray diffractometer, a new X-ray fluoroscope, a sediment particle size analyzer, a suite of water chemical analysis instruments including a total organic carbon analyzer, a Linkam fluid inclusion heating/freezing stage, cathodoluminescence stage, and state of the art software for hydrogeological, geochemical, engineering, petroleum exploration, and image analysis applications.

In the Department of Chemistry and Geology, we have access to Gas Chromatographs and Atomic Absorption analyzers, among other instruments of use in Geology research. We also have full on-campus access to a Scanning Electron Microscope with Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy, GPS receivers, GIS software, water quality instruments, and other field and laboratory instrumentation.

Preparation for the B.S. Geology program

As a physical science, Geology draws on quantitative skills; thus, courses in math (such as Calculus) and science (such as Physics and Chemistry) are important. At the same time, Geology involves a great deal of creative problem-solving skill in discerning the ‘big picture’ from careful observations, and thus its practice is greatly enhanced by a strong curiosity about the Earth and how it works.

For more information, please contact:

Professor Bryce Hoppie


Professor Steven Losh


Professor Chad Wittkop


Sample Four-Year Curriculum

First Year Semester 1 First Year Semester 2
  • GEOL 121 Physical Geology (4)
  • MATH 112 College Algebra (4) (if not taken previously)
  • ENG 101 Composition (3) (Gen Ed 1)
  • CHEM 104 Introduction to Chemistry (3)
  • FYEX 100 First Year Experience
  • GEOL 122 Earth History (4)
  • MATH 113 Trigonometry (3) (or 115 Pre-Calculus Mathematics in place of 112 & 113)
  • Req Gen Ed 2 (3)
  • Req Gen Ed 3 (3)
  • First Year Experience
Second Year Semester 1 Second Year Semester 2
  • GEOL 201 MIneralogy (4)
  • CHEM 201 General Chemistry I (5)
  • Req Gen Eds 4 (6)
  • MATH 121 Calculus I (4)
  • PHYS 211 (4) Principles of Physics I
  • Req Gen Eds 6 (9)
Third Year Semester 1 Third Year Semester 2
  • GEOL 320W Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (4)
  • GEOL Elective: 401 Field Studies in N Minnesota (alt years) (3) or 430 Ore Deposits and Petroleum Geology in Fall of 4th year (3)
  • GEOG Elective: 315 Geomorphology (3), 373 Intro to GIS (4), 471 Digital Mapping with GPS (4), or 474 Remote Sensing (4)
  • Req Gen Ed 9 (3)
  • GEOL 302 Petrology (4)
  • GEOL 330 Structural Geology (4)
  • GEOL Elective: 350 Environmental Geology (3) or 450 Hydrogeology (alt years) (4)
  • GEOG Elective: 373, 420 Conservation of Natural Resources, 473 Intermediate GIS
  • Req Gen Ed 10 (3)
Third Year Summer
  • GEOL 440 Field Camp (capstone) (6)
Fourth Year Semester 1 Fourth Year Semester 2
  • GEOL Elective: 430 Petroleum and Ore Deposits Geology (alt years with 401) (3)
  • GEOG Elective: GEOG 315, 373, 420, 471, or 474 (3 or 4)
  • Other Electives: Independent Study (6)
  • GEOL Elective: 450 (4) or 350 (alt years) (3)
  • GEOG Elective (3): 420, 473 Intermediate GIS
  • Other Electives: Independent Study (6)