How many concentrations are represented in the geology major?
We offer three basic programs: one for those who want to teach in secondary schools (the Earth Science major); one for those who enjoy geology but don't expect to seek employment as a geologist or who want to combine geologic expertise with another field (the General major); and one for those who expect to be employed as a geologist (the Professional major - which follows guidelines of most graduate schools and of the Association of Professional Geologists). Some students interested in environmental science design their own major in close consultation with a faculty advisor, choosing liberally from the geology and biology curricula.
What opportunities are there for internships within and outside the department?
All internships occur outside the department in settings (agencies or organizations) where the student can apply learned skills and knowledge within a framework of the work place.
How many semester hours are required for graduation within four years?
Of the 130 semester hours required for graduation:
- The Earth Science major (teaching certification) requires 30 hours in Geology, 19 hours in related sciences, 9 hours in Geography, and 28 hours in Education.
- The General Geology major requires 32 hours in Geology and 5 hours in Chemistry.
- The Professional Geology major requires 35 hours in Geology, 5 hours in Chemistry, 5 hours in Mathematics (calculus), and 10 more hours in Biology, Chemistry, Math and/or Physics.
What special features does the department offer students?
Geology majors have regular use of extensive departmental fossil, mineral, rock and map collections. Whenever appropriate, courses make use of field exercises and develop practical skills through hands-on use of instruments and geologic field equipment. As early as the sophomore year, students use computer-controlled x-ray diffraction equipment and scanning electron microscope for geologic research projects. Once each year the week-long Field Seminar visits interesting field sites and alumni employed in geologic jobs. A state-of-the-art microcomputing laboratory and imaging facility is dedicated to our use. Departmental Awards (the Gerrard and Nave Endowments) provide financial support to students engaged in research projects or seeking field experience. Some students serve as student assistants in the Geology microcomputing laboratory or introductory geology laboratory.
How feasible is the study abroad program within a Geology major?
Through careful planning with a departmental advisor, geology majors who want study abroad experience complete it with minimal hassles. They usually concentrate on General Education and elective credits during the period abroad.
What can someone do with a degree in Geology?
This is a rather complex question so bear with us. Many geologists first learned of the profession after beginning college; a few had earth science background in high school and developed their initial interest there. So, it's not unusual to not know what geologists do, in spite of the large number of major earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions and hurricanes worldwide in recent decades that have kept some geologists in the news.
The hottest areas of geologic employment recently have been in environmental consulting, the protection and reclamation of the natural environment. This includes water resources (hydrology) and pollution abatement (landfills, chemical spills, leaky gas tanks, etc). Several of our graduates who began in entry level positions in hydrogeology firms now own their own consulting businesses. There are also employment opportunities in many parts of the country where geologic hazards (floods, landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes) necessitate close consultation among geologists, urban planners and engineers. These jobs exist in both the government and private sectors.
Other current professional opportunities exist in oil and gas exploration (particularly with small private companies), metals exploration (gold is hot in the western US again), and teaching high school earth science or general science. Even though college teaching jobs are less common than they used to be, some of our graduates choose careers as university professors.
Some geologists continue their education after the bachelors degree in multidisciplinary fields like oceanography and planetary science.
Most geologists today expect to change employers several times over a career and many choose self-employment as consultants, so we emphasize general preparation, development of strong communication skills, effective writing, practical computing & field experience, problem solving and opportunities for professional presentations.
For many jobs your major is less important than the successful completion of a Bachelors degree. Former Wittenberg geology majors are in banking, insurance, wine and beer sales, national public interest organizations, and library science, to mention a few.