Geology Undergraduate Program

The Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences offers the Bachelor of Science degree in geology and the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Earth science. These degrees are outlined below and described in detail in this document. The B.S. in geology focuses on traditional geology and environmental geology/hydrogeology, while laying a solid foundation for further graduate study. The B.S. in Earth science provides a broader overview of geology and supporting sciences. The B.A. in Earth science is designed primarily for careers in secondary education.

Geology Program

The B.S. degree is the only degree offered in the geology program and is designed to acquaint the student with the broad discipline of geology and its supporting sciences. The degree includes two options, one that emphasizes traditional geology (Option A) and the other environmental geology/hydrogeology (Option B). Students must declare their option prior to the end of their sophomore year. Sufficient depth of coursework is provided in both options so that the student may pursue graduate study. Forty-four credits of geology are required for Option A, including Geol 100, 100L, 102, 102L, 302, 315, 315L, 316, 356, 365, 368, 479 and 9 credits of geology electives (Table 1a). Required geology courses for Option B (45 credits) are Geol 100, 100L, 102, 102L, 302, 315, 315L, 316, 356, 368, 411, 419 or 426 or 434, 479 and 6 credits of geology electives (Table 1b). Only up to 2 credits of 100-level elective courses can be taken in either option. Required supporting courses for both options include Chem 177, 177L, 178, 178L; Phys 111 and 112; Math 165, 166 or 181, 182; Engl 309 or Engl 302 or Engl 314 or JI MC 347, and at least 6 additional credits from an approved departmental list of courses in the science, engineering, or mathematical disciplines outside of geology. Students with senior standing may use graduate geology courses (500 level or above) to fulfill the elective requirement; however, they should be aware that courses taken at the graduate level and counted toward the B.S. degree cannot be applied again toward a graduate degree at Iowa State University.

Geology courses generally have prerequisites in geology or in mathematics, chemistry, or physics. Prerequisites require that courses be taken in a prescribed sequence; however, because of differences in the preparation and background of each student, there is not a unique way to proceed through the B.S. program. Possible sequences of courses that will allow the student to complete a degree within four years are shown in Table 4. Students are advised to maintain frequent contact with their academic advisors so that all degree requirements are met in a timely fashion.

Earth Science Programs

Both B.A. and B.S. degrees are offered in the Earth science program. In general, these programs require fewer courses in geology and allow coursework in other disciplines such as astronomy. In instances where students are undecided about their career plans, the Earth science and geology programs (Option A) are similar enough that transfer between these programs is possible during the first two years. Of the two degrees in Earth sciences, the B.S. program emphasizes the core geology courses and the basic supporting sciences. In addition to the requirements in cognate sciences, the B.S. in Earth science requires 35 credits in geology, 3 credits in meteorology, and 8 credits of electives in supporting departments. The required core courses are Geol 100, 100L, 102, 102L, 302, 315, 315L, 316, 356, 365, 368, 479, and Mteor 206 (Table 2). Additional courses in geology and agronomy are strongly recommended. The required supporting courses are Chem 177, 177L, 178, 178L; Phys 111 and 112; Math 165, 166 or 181, 182, Com S 107 and Stat 101 or 104.

The B.A. program in Earth sciences provides a less rigorous course of study in geology and supporting sciences and prepares the student primarily for a career in secondary education. It requires 32 credits in geology, 3 credits in meteorology, and 6 credits in astronomy. The required courses are Geol 100, 100L, 102, 102L, 302, 315, 315L, 316, 356, 365, 368, 3 credits of a geology elective, Mteor 206, and Astro 120 and 150 (Table 3). Additional courses in geology and agronomy are strongly recommended. The required supporting courses include Chem 177, 177L, 178, 178L; Phys 111 and 112; Math 151 or 160 or 165 or 181; Stat 101 or 104 or Com S 107; and a course in biology. In addition to these requirements, the student must meet the requirements for teacher licensure (outlined in Table 3; see also the catalog listings under the Teacher Education Program in the ISU Catalog). Dr. Cinzia Cervato is the Teaching Coordinator for Earth Sciences.

The English requirements for the Earth Science programs are the same as for the Geology programs.

Minor in Geology

A minor in geology may be completed by taking Geology 100 and 100L (or 201), 102 and 102L, and additional credits at the 300 level or above for a total of 15 credits. A total of 9 credits must be unique to the minor and cannot be counted for both the major and the minor field of study. The minor will appear on the undergraduate transcript. Although it does not provide adequate preparation for a career in geology, the minor will provide a core experience that can augment a professional degree in environmental science or any field of physical science, agronomy, or engineering.