College of Arts & Sciences

Geological Sciences




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Geological Sciences encompass a variety of types of studies of the Earth, including composition, structure, prehistoric life, internal and surficial processes, and geological history. These studies have applications in the discovery and use of mineral resources, fuels, and water; in protection of the environment; and in planning for natural limitations (climate change, earthquakes, landslides, resources, etc.) on societal development.


Grow Your Future

The median pay for geoscientists in the US in 2012 was $90,890. Jobs in geoscience are expected to grow at the rate of 16% through 2022. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics) Jobs in the geosciences accepted by students with bachelor’s degrees include those in Oil & Gas (36%), Environmental Services (21%), Mining (11%), Government (11%), and K-12 Education (4%).(Source: Status of Recent Geoscience Graduates, 2013. American Geosciences Institute)

Career opportunities in Geological Sciences

  • petroleum geologist
  • hydrogeologist
  • engineering geologist
  • environmental geologist
  • geophysicist
  • economic geologist
  • geomorphologist
  • paleoclimatologist
  • volcanologist
  • seismologist
  • geochemist
  • glaciologist
  • mineralogist
  • sedimentologist
  • cartographer
  • paleontologist
  • petrologist
  • stratigrapher
  • planetary geologist
  • land-use technician
  • surveyor
  • government
  • consulting firms
  • museums

Classes & Requirements

What You'll Study

Geological Science majors begin by taking EES 220: Principles of Physical Geology. This course offers an introduction to every aspect of the discipline. Students engage in hands-on laboratory activities such as modeling the flow of contaminants in groundwater, identifying rocks and minerals, and using geologic maps to understand the geologic evolution of Earth’s surface.

If a student took EES 220 in the Fall semester of their first year in the major, the Spring semester might be a good time to take a 300-level elective, such as EES 310: Exploring the Solar System or EES 345: Paleoclimatology: The Science.

The second year of study begins with EES 230: Fundamentals of Geology 1 during the Fall semester, followed by EES 235: Fundamentals of Geology 2 in the Spring. Both of these classes introduce students to skills necessary to being a geologist, such as mapping, describing rocks, field work, and geographic information systems (GIS). Students also take other 300 level required courses and electives.

After the 230/235 sequence and 300 level required courses are completed, students move on to 400 and 500 level classes that give students more detailed backgrounds in various sub-disciplines in geology, such as structural geology, sedimentary geology, and igneous and metamorphic geology.

Geological Sciences B.S. students usually finish their studies in geology with a 6-week field camp (EES 323). They undertake several field, laboratory and computational exercises that allow integration of all of the skills and knowledge gained during previous studies. Many of our B.A. students opt to take this course as an elective as well.


Graduation Requirements

Any student earning a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree must complete a minimum of 39 hours at the 300+ level. These hours are generally completed by the major requirements. However, keep this hour requirement in mind as you choose your course work for the requirements in the major. Students interested in earning a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree must complete a minimum of 60 hours in biological, physical, mathematical and/or computer sciences. See the complete description of College requirements for a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Sciences degrees in the Arts and Sciences section of the 2015-2016 Undergraduate Bulletin.

UK Core Requirements

  • The Nature of Inquiry in Arts and Creativity (3 hours)
  • The Nature of Inquiry in the Humanities (3 hours)
  • The Nature of Inquiry in the Social Sciences (3 hours)
  • The nature of Inquiry in the Natural, Physical and Mathematical Sciences (3 hours)
  • Composition and Communication I (3 hours)
  • Composition and Communication II (3 hours)
  • Quantitative Foundations (3 hours)
  • Statistical and Inferential Reasoning (3 hours)
  • Community, Culture and Citizenship in the USA (3 hours)
  • Global Dynamics (3 hours)

Total Credit Hours - 30

Premajor Requirements 

  • CHE 105 - General Chemistry I [4 hours]
  • CHE 111 - Laboratory to Accompany General Chemistry I [1 hours]
  • EES 220 - Principles of Physical Geology [4 hours]
  • EES 295 - Geoscience Orientation [1 hour]
  • MA 123 - Elementary Calculus and its Applications or MA 113 [4 hours]
  • PHY 211 - General Physics or PHY 231/241 - General University Physics/Lab [5 hours]

Total Hours - 19

Major Requirements 

Core Requirements

  • EES 230 - Fundamentals of Geology I [3 hours]
  • EES 235 - Fundamentals of Geology II [3 hours]
  • EES 350 - Regional Historical Geology [3 hours]
  • EES 360 - Minerology [4 hours]
  • EES 420G - Structural Geology [4 hours]
  • EES 450G - Sedimentary Geology [4 hours]
  • EES 461 - Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology [4 hours]

Other Course Work Required for the Major

  • Choose 6 hours of EES courses at the 400+ level, not to include EES 495 or 496 [6 hours]
  • Choose 6 additional hours of 300+ EES or related courses. (Note that 14 hours at the 200 level or higher must be completed outside Geological Sciences [3-14 hours]

Total Hours - 41

Geological Sciences  | Bachelor of Arts

B.A. Major Requirements B.A. Four Year Plan

Geological Sciences | Bachelor of Science

B.S. Major Requirements B.S. Four Year Plan

Imagine Your Future


Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics | Click the link for more info.

Median Salary


per year in 2023

Number of Jobs


in 2023

10 Year Job Outlook


new jobs (average)

Work Environment

Geoscientists usually split their time between work in an office setting, in laboratories, and outdoors. Most geoscientists work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Schedules vary to include irregular hours when doing fieldwork.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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A&S Undecided/Exploratory Studies

Understanding that over 70 percent of university students will change their declared major at least once during their college careers, the College of Arts and Sciences has developed an Exploratory Studies program for students who have yet to decide the specific field of study that most closely aligns both their personal interests and their professional career goals and objectives. The Exploratory Studies Program provides students with an extraordinarily diverse educational environment that includes coursework spanning Math and Natural Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences and provides students with the unique opportunity to explore multiple areas of interest during their first several semesters on campus. For more information please contact a recruiting representative at